These two got their campaigns off to contrasting starts this week. Newcastle sealed a 2-0 win over West Ham courtesy of second-half goals from new additions Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick, while twice Blackburn came from behind at relegated Bournemouth, only for the Cherries to claim maximum points late on.
Tony Mowbray’s outfit threatened throughout and were ultimately undone by Bournemouth’s greater quality at the sharp end. However, the result leaves them a desperately poor W6-D3-L15 on the road in all competitions since late August last year – including six defeats from seven since March.
In fact, the visitors conceded at least twice in 15 of the 24 trips in total, including seven of the last eight, while they kept just three clean sheets over this entire period.
Blackburn’s defence is clearly in need of some considerable improvement then, though Mowbray’s side are also reduced in attack. Striker Sam Gallagher is sidelined, but more crucially, key attacking midfielder Bradley Dack is still recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.
The 26-year-old netted 10 times in all competitions during the first half of last season and his absence leaves a strong burden on Adam Armstrong to lead the line – even if the latter has been in rich goalscoring vein with six goals in eight appearances since July.
Newcastle To Beat Blackburn
Given the upcoming schedule, Steve Bruce will no doubt ring the changes here rather than go with the same eleven that downed the Hammers. However, he does have a reasonably deep squad to call upon and we can understand why his side start as favourites on home turf.
Certainly Ryan Fraser should be in line to make his debut, while the likes of Sean Longstaff, Matt Ritchie, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton will all expect some minutes having started Saturday on the bench.
Blackburn did manage a draw at St. James’ Park in the FA Cup in January 2019, before going down 4-2 after extra time in the reply. Those stalemates suggest Blackburn could compete here, but they have also lost all three encounters with Premier League sides in the League Cup under Mowbray.
Burnley, Bournemouth and Sheffield Utd all registered at least two goals each, and the visitors’ obvious defensive issues on the road make them easy to oppose.
Indeed, the only teams to beat Newcastle at St. James’ Park last term in any competition were Arsenal, Everton, Leicester, Man City, Spurs and Liverpool.
Blackburn simply aren’t at the same level as those clubs and though they may prove competitive, Steve Bruce’s squad should be able to handle the threat.