Blackburn Club Focus – Rovers looking for another shock against United
When relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers last faced champions Manchester United in the Premier League, the struggling Lancashire outfit shocked Sir Alex Ferguson’s side by recording an incredible 3-2 win at Old Trafford. Prior to that New Year’s Eve fixture, Rovers had won just twice in 18 top-flight games and had picked up a miserable 11 points. However, Steve Kean’s resilient team notched up a further 17 points from their next 12 games to give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop with 8 games to play.
How Blackburn could do with another victory over United to give them a similar boost for the remainder of the campaign. Rovers are currently sitting just one place above the relegation zone. The Ewood Park side have the same number of points and the same goal difference as Mark Hughes’ Queens Park Rangers, who are in eighteenth place, though fortunately for Kean, Rovers are in an advantageous position because they have scored more goals. Nevertheless, should the home side slip to a defeat against favourites Manchester United – even by a slender margin - then they will fall below QPR.
Blackburn fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were all but safe a couple of weeks ago, following back-to-back 2-0 wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sunderland. But many of the bottom sides have managed freak results since then to keep the pressure on Kean’s team. Not only have QPR and Wigan beaten Carling Cup winners Liverpool over the last couple of weeks, but the duo also picked up vital wins over the weekend. Bolton Wanderers, who defeated Rovers at the Reebok Stadium last weekend, also won their fixture at Wolves on Saturday.
Those results have seen Blackburn back in the mix, with some interesting fixtures remaining. On the one hand, Rovers have to play United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea before the season is out, though on the other hand they have winnable games against West Bromwich Albion, Swansea, Norwich and Wigan to come. Four wins from their remaining eight games would see Rovers hit the 40-point mark – which is considered to be the number of points required to more or less guarantee safety. But for a team that has won just seven Premier League games all season, asking for another four wins in just eight games is a big test and in truth, Rovers are likely to need less than 40 points to survive.
But whether they will get anything against United remains to be seen. The champions are in fabulous form and have picked up 28 points from a possible 33 so far this year. The Red Devils have been excellent on their travels and have lost just once in their last 16 away games. Given that both Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney have terrific goalscoring records against Rovers, the hosts’ defence could be in for a busy night. However, Manchester United have only managed to draw their last two games at Ewood Park and a similar result this time around would keep Blackburn out of the drop zone for yet another week.
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