Finnish striker Shefki Kuqi will return to Ewood Park tomorrow as Newcastle face Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League. The 34-year-old, who recently joined the Magpies on a free transfer, scored seven league goals for Rovers in the 2005-2006 season. Although Kuqi is the first striker Alan Pardew has signed since Andy Carroll’s £35m move to Liverpool last month, the well-travelled forward is unlikely to start against his former club.
However, Rovers’ own veteran striker, Jason Roberts, could start his third consecutive game for the Blues to face a club he loves scoring against. The Grenadian striker, who scored against his former club Wigan last time out, has netted four goals for Rovers in six league games against Newcastle. Roberts does have some critics who claim he does not score enough goals; however the 33-year-old does provide Blackburn with strength up front and has recently been rewarded with a new contract by manager Steve Kean.
As for Newcastle, well Pardew’s side simply do not score enough goals on their travels. The Magpies have only ten away goals to their name so far this campaign – the joint-second lowest in the league. Considering that 40% of these goals were scored by Carroll, it is difficult to identify where the goals will come from for the visitors this weekend.
Nevertheless, Newcastle have already proved they are capable of scoring goals without Carroll and they showed this against Arsenal last time out, where they came back from 4-0 down to level the score and pick up a point at St James’ Park. Therefore, should Rovers defend as poorly as they did against Wigan last weekend, Newcastle do have goalscorers from midfield who could punish them.
Meanwhile, Rovers’ new owners are continuing to search for a new chairman following the recent departure of the long-serving John Williams. When Sam Allardyce was axed by Venky’s in December, rumours began to circulate that highly-respected Williams would quickly follow suit. He eventually left the club last week, after 13 years of service. Venky’s reportedly have a number of targets in mind for the vacancy; however there has been no indication as to who could eventually land the job. Vineeth Rao, director of marketing for Venky’s India, told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph: “We
As the search goes on, what happens on the pitch is currently of more relevance for the time being. Kean appears to have won over a large section of the crowd at Ewood Park, who are now more vocal in their support for the former first team coach, however recent results have not exactly gone to plan. Rovers have lost their last two league games, which has seen them slip back into the bottom half of the Premier League table. Although the Blues are likely to comfortably avoid relegation, the Lancashire outfit will need to get back on track if they are to match last season’s top half finish.