Tag Archives: Blackburn Rovers

Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn and Fulham

As we drove to White Hart Lane for the QPR game our talk focused upon golf difference. For me we needed to put away Rangers in an effort to try and catch up United, City and Chelsea once we have played (and hopefully won) our game in hand against Everton. G on the other hand felt we should want to do the best we could in that department but winning the games was what it was all about.

G’s right, of course he is, but with Arsenal finding some form and Liverpool likely to have some decent wins at home we could find ourselves sweating a little if we don’t score sufficient goals when we are playing well. Then there is Newcastle who can’t seem to put a foot wrong at the moment and walk away with another +2 from Stoke.

We met my brother in law in Park Lane and he wanted to see a good performance from Gareth Bale. “It’s about time” he said “as he hasn’t done much recently”. We readily agreed. Despite Rangers improvement both in personnel and performance they had struggled to put away 9 men Chelsea so could they present us with any serious problems. We figured maybe not but following G’s logic they would be rightly ecstatic at that victory.

We all went home delighted, Bale scored two fabulous goals, our performance for most of the game was fabulous and another 3 points to the 3 we had won at Blackburn just deserves for those performances.

But was it enough? At this stage of the season it was but as we’ve come to expect we conceded a goal to give Rangers hope and ended the game clearing it off the line. Our first half was outstanding but as Harry rightly said we could have been 4 or 5 up. We shouldn’t complain – or should we? 

When Martin Jol was starting to turn the cruiseliner that is Tottenham Hotspur around G and I often left the ground thinking “how did we win that?” These days we are much improved upon that but sometimes we don’t reap enough of what we’ve sown in the build up. Sunday was a prime example. Was Adebayor unlucky or wasteful? Certainly Van Der Vaart spent much of the second half trying to thread a pass through into space for him and had one come off he might have added to his tally. Elsewhere though he did miss a couple of sitters.

His quick thinking, however, robbed Paddy Kenny of the ball and allowed us to get it back in front of goal where Bale hit a blazing drive that produced an unbelievable save to keep it out. In essence he was not quite firing on all cylinders but his forward play assisted in producing the first goal and keeping Rangers stretched. 

Kenny made other good saves. Two from Van Der Vaart prevented him opening the scoring in the first couple of minutes and again just after half time. Had one of those gone in the floodgates might have opened – as they might have done for Chelsea in the opening minutes against Arsenal – but it just wasn’t to be.

All our goals were well taken. Bales goals in particular were outstanding with Lennon working inside on both laying a super pass for the powerful cross shot and then making a triangle of short passes before Bale curled a powerful shot into the net. Brilliant goals indeed that sent the crowd into raptures and Van Der Vaart’s shot from Ledley’s deflected shot was also clinical in the extreme. 

As we ate lunch before I left Mac Junior told me that a goal for Rafa would equal or break a record for goals scored in games on the trot. Between courses we identified it to be a Premiership record and a quick look in my (soon to be replaced) complete record 1882 to 1991 showed that a certain Mr Greaves scored in 10 on the trot in 1962-63. Others among you will be able to instantly tell me if that is in fact the record but it seems that the BBC are now following Sky and failing to accept football existed before the Premier League. On that basis Liverpool have hardly any history – mind games from Manchester perhaps but let’s get it right guys.

Biggest praise from the QPR game goes to Scott Parker who had an incredible afternoon particularly in the first half dominance. The guy was a colossus in midfield competing for every ball. Surely Luka is happy he stayed to play alongside him? As you probably recall I  wasn’t that keen thinking about how it would effect Sandro’s position but I have to admit that the young Brazilian must be learning loads from Scott who also now seems to have nicked Pav’s song…

Previously at Blackburn we had picked up another valuable three points from a game which my computer wouldn’t feed me. I’ve talked about the luxury of having both Rafa and Luka in the side when we travel but Rafa once again showed his mettle with two tremendous efforts that demonstrate why Harry is right to play him. 

Jermain Defoe must be disappointed to only get a run out alongside Pav in the Europa League games but you cant argue with the thought process behind it whilst we are winning. Once again we allowed Blackburn back into the game as we did at Newcastle but this time we were able to hold out. Will we be able to continue this trend at Fulham come Sunday? 

Whilst we won at The Cottage last season it has been a stadium of disappointment and this year with Martin Jol at their helm there is a risk that he inspires them to a win and some vindication of his unacceptably handled sacking. Realistically on current form that shouldn’t be possible and whilst Fulham have no travel problems their first team have played a Europa game tonight whilst with the exception of maybe Gallas ours have not. 

That means that it should be the right time to play them. These days we are better in such circumstance and have the players available to make it count. Our issue is whether we can get ahead sufficiently to close down the shop and go Sandro/Parker.

That seems to take us full circle to where I began; goal difference. G has a theory that we will get better at this part of the game as we get more experienced. The quality of the squad has not been this good for ever so maybe one good hiding will set us up for a period. It certainly helped Manchester City after their visit to the Lane.

After Newcastle the next six games all looked winnable. Two down, four to go and if we were to do it we would undoubtedly surprise ourselves but maybe for this team now is the time.       

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I don’t believe it – red rose points! Blackburn Rovers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1

A tenth anniversary party – not mine I might add – prevented me from watching a feed of the Blackburn Rovers game but I did manage to pick up the Sky Football First highlights. On route to said event I had picked up the news about Luka Modric’s appendix operation and after feeling more concerned then ever about our chances wondered whether Rafa would drop back and we’d play two strikers up front or put in Kranjcar or Pienaar. 

In the end Pienaar was also injured and so Lennon again played on the left and Rafa went out right allowing the fit again Palacios to come into the centre with Jenas. Not the midfield we would have predicted but maybe one that was suited to the occasion. Crouch came in up front to partner Defoe and on three minutes rose ahead of Samba and headed Rafa’s perfectly hit cross from deep beyond Robinson to put us ahead.

After that our chances were few and far between but we were able to stem the tide for most of the game and when we didn’t Gomes was playing well and making a string of brilliant second half saves. We had two decent chances in the second half both created by Lennon. The first involved a tremendous break which saw him sprint from box to box before laying the ball to Defoe who finding the ball on his left foot allowed Robinson to make a save. 

The second involved a tremendous shot from Lennon after cutting inside and forcing Robinson into an excellent save following a deflection from a Blackburn player.

In defence Charlie returned and received a yellow card after he got caught out and tugged his man to the floor. He was also unlucky when he was adjudged to have brought his man down on the edge of the box when it was clearly not a foul. After the pounding at Fulham his more defensive outlook maybe benefitted the side and at left back Benny appeared to holding himself back.

However, from what I saw Billy Gallas looked outstanding. Having taken back the armband he threw himself into the game and one brilliant sliding tackle in the second half epitomised his performance. He picked up a knock in that challenge but with us being down to bare bones on the bench he continued and along with Bassong helped keep a clean sheet despite a few dodgy moments near the end. 

How this might have been the result of JJ’s knee is open to debate but a clean sheet is a clean sheet and once again Crouchy is on the score sheet but JD is not. He gave way to Sandro who saw the end of the game. Wanting to impress the young man crossed the ball late in the game conceding possession and allowing Blackburn to attack us once again – or so the boy told me who watched the latter stages on a feed.

So Gomes played well, we kept a clean sheet, the makeshift midfield worked on the night, a striker scored and Woody made the bench. And the biggest thing for me is points in Lancashire! I’ve moaned about our performances in the North West for most of the season and to prove my point I’ve included a map of the UK showing our points tallies so far (click link to load). It is unfortunate that some of the best sides are from the North West but so too are some of the middle and lower tier sides and all too often we let ourselves down on our travels to their stadiums.     

As a consequence last night was a bit of a triumph. It wasn’t a great performance but does it always need to be when we get three points and Manchester City does not!   

Wakey Wakey! Blackburn Rovers V Tottenham Hotspur preview

After the debacle of Sunday’s sleepy start an away trip to Lancashire is the last thing we need but with El Hadj in Glasgow and Big Sam despatched to his front parlour maybe this time a visit to the land of no points may produce some result. Earlier in the season we took a four goal lead before we gave two away to end up hanging on. 

This time we arrive in poor form, “out of gas” and probably a little low on confidence so who knows what might happen. Thankfully Blackburn are also erratic and we beat them both times last season. Our job, should we choose to accept it is to keep them out and score ourselves; things that have become difficult in recent times.

Injury problems have decimated our centre backs and so a one match suspension for Dawson is the last thing we needed. Santa Cruz has a groin niggle and is unlikely to play so let’s be hopeful that Gallas and Bassong are commanding at the back. We have to hope so; Ledley undergoes another operation on Wednesday and Kaboul has already had one and will be absent. If things get really tough Woodgate may be called from the bench to make a return! 

I would continue with Hutton and Ekotto allowing Corluka to sit on the bench. If that means he needs to come on then he can prepare for only one position – either full back or at centre back to protect Woody.

In midfield we really need to sort out our options. We need to get the tackling sorted out. Some weeks ago I thought Huddlestone would have a tough job to get back into the team; today he only needs to turn up to win his place back. Not the sort of competition we needed and with Tommy close but not ready it has to be Jenas tomorrow. 

His instructions? Sit tight and win the ball get it to Lennon or Modric and let them do the rest. He has played well this season lets hope to see it continue tomorrow night. 

Having failed to lose Kranjcar we have a choice between him and Pienaar. What a choice! Pienaar looked relatively comfortable at Newcastle but didn’t do anything awe inspiring. He pushed it around comfortably but what did he really achieve? At Fulham he was poor and should have come off instead of Sandro in my opinion.

So is Kranjcar better? Not on performances this season but if he was able to sit out left instead of roaming he could be useful. I think I might go with Niko as he might be more willing to attack than Pienaar whilst the South African settles in. 

Modric needs to see plenty of the ball and I am sure that he will and Rafa needs to be further up the pitch putting pressure upon Blackburn’s box rather than picking the ball up on the half way line.

And so to up front. Which of the three? I called for us all to support our three strikers on twitter last night after the window closed for they are all we’ve got till the end of the season. What we need is Defoe to get onto the score sheet to give himself some confidence. But than Pav might produce a moment of brilliance and net one early or Crouch provide an assist to Van Der Vaart.

I think I might play Crouch to counter the height of Samba in defensive situations without Dawson in the side. But should that be from the start? We ought to go for a positive start and an early goal and that really calls for Defoe running channels and being available on the counter. The Villa victory seems a long time ago but we played really well in that game. For that reason I would stick with that formation. I would therefore go as follows for the team tomorrow:

                             Gomes

     Hutton      Gallas      Bassong      Ekotto

Lennon            Jenas         Modric         Kranjcar

             Van Der Vaart                  Defoe

Prediction: I’m going back to my 2-1 Spurs but would take a point after Sunday.