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Blackburn Club Focus – Kean’s Rovers must negotiate tough run in as Bolton put the brakes on

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By Mushtaq Quraishi

Monday 26 March 2012

Blackburn Rovers’ impressive three-match unbeaten run in the Premier League came to an end as Steve Kean’s side were beaten 2-1 by local rivals Bolton on Saturday. The Trotters, who were playing for the first time since midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup, scored twice through defender David Wheater in the first-half, and although Kean's men replied early on in the second period with Steven Nzonzi’s header, Bolton managed to see the game through and pick up three crucial points.

While the manner in which Rovers conceded their goals was unsurprising – despite keeping two consecutive clean-sheets prior to this fixture, the Lancashire outfit have shipped a staggering 62 goals so far this term – it was their lack of real threat going forward which will cause the most concern. Nigerian forward Yakubu and Canadian attacker Junior Hoilett, who have formed a lethal partnership in recent weeks, failed to launch a single shot on target, which is somewhat disappointing considering that only Wolves have conceded more goals at home than Bolton. Rovers also failed to put the hosts’ nervy goalkeeper Adam Bogdan under any real pressure from set-pieces.

Speaking about the performance, Kean told the club’s official website: "They were much better than us today which is disappointing.” He added: "The performance was not our usual selves, we are normally better with the ball, we normally get it back much quicker. So we are disappointed with not only the result but also the performance."

The poor result threw Rovers back into the fierce relegation battle. Not only are the Ewood Park outfit now just three points clear of the drop zone, but their conquerors Bolton are only two points behind them and Coyle’s men also have a game in hand. Given that Rovers still have to face the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in four of their final eight Premier League games, avoiding the drop will be no easy task.

But having seen his side collect points against United and Liverpool already this season, Kean remains confident that Rovers can continue to trouble the big sides for the remainder of the campaign.

"We aren't getting carried away, we know there'll be twists to come we can take encouragement from picking up points at difficult places against difficult opponents and I'm sure we can do that again," he said.

Blackburn have also suffered from the fact that some of the other struggling teams in the top-flight, such as Wigan and Queens Park Rangers, have picked up crucial victories of late. Both of those teams have recently triumphed over an out-of-sorts Liverpool side, leaving the table a lot tighter at the bottom. Worryingly for Kean, Rovers could find themselves back in the relegation zone in time for their next game against champions Manchester United on Monday 2 April – should QPR beat in-form Arsenal by more than one goal and if Bolton beat Wolves. While Rovers’ result at the Reebok Stadium was by no means a disaster, it could prove to be a very costly defeat come the end of the campaign.

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