Blackburn Club Focus - Rovers running out of time to save season
Just less than a month ago, relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers were sitting six points above the relegation zone, having recorded back-to-back wins and clean sheets for the first time since much-maligned Scot Steve Kean replaced Sam Allardyce as the manager at Ewood Park.
However, the struggling Lancashire outfit, who have failed to pick up a single point since those victories against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sunderland, have slipped back into the relegation zone and now have just five games to save their season.
Rovers’ latest disappointment came on Tuesday night when, despite a spirited comeback, Kean’s men were unable to overcome a significantly weakened 10-man Liverpool side at Ewood Park. The hosts went 2-0 down within the space of 16 minutes thanks to Maxi Rodriguez’s quick-fire double, before the Merseysiders’ second-choice goalkeeper Alexander Doni was sent off. Nigerian forward Yakubu missed the resulting penalty, but Blackburn fought their way back into the game and by the hour-mark, Rovers were level thanks to the villain-turned-hero Yakubu. But the visitors netted a late winner through Andy Carroll, leaving Kean to mull over a fourth consecutive defeat.
For a team that has scored 42 Premier League goals so far this term - a tally which beats 12 other sides, it may sound somewhat strange to suggest that a lack of goals in recent games has cost Rovers. The games against Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion saw Blackburn fail to find the net in consecutive matches for the first time this campaign and Kean’s side have found the net at an average rate of 0.75 goals per game over the course of the last four fixtures. This is almost half of the 1.45 goals per game Rovers were averaging prior to this latest poor run of form. Meanwhile, the Lancashire side are still shipping a great number of goals. As a consequence, the team have suffered more over the last few weeks.
Another problem for Kean’s battling side is that their relegation rivals have managed to pick up some significant wins in recent weeks. Both Wigan and Queens Park Rangers have gained three significant victories over the past month, results which have seen the two sides climb out of the drop-zone. With the sides in and around Rovers suddenly finding form, it is vital that the Ewood Park outfit do the same and collect points in their next two games against Swansea and Norwich.
Rovers will travel to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, where they will be hoping for a repeat of the 4-2 win they recorded over Brendan Rodgers’ side when the two teams met in Lancashire back in December. However, Swansea have lost just four times on their own ground this season, conceding just 14 goals in the process. Therefore, it will not be an easy fixture for Blackburn. Fortunately for Kean, Yakubu has been in sparkling form this season and the Nigerian bagged all four goals against the Swans earlier this season. A repeat of that extraordinary feat would almost certainly see Rovers do the double over the promoted side. As long as Yakubu plays, Kean’s side have a chance of returning to Blackburn with maximum points.