Club Focus – Blackburn Rovers – Home sweet home for Big Sam

Blackburn Rovers poor away form continued this weekend with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Champions League chasing Tottenham Hotspur. But that score line does not tell half the story. Sam Allardyce will look back upon the game and realise his side could have grasped a vital point from the game. If Blackburn had been awarded a penalty for the foul by Vedran Corluka on inspirational attacking midfielder David Dunn at 0-0, then the game could and should have been a lot different. Howard Webb did not display his best performance and Rovers felt rightly aggrieved at the end when England’s best referee chalked off Nikola Kalinic’s sublime strike, due to an unintentional handball in the build up. Regardless, Blackburn came away with nothing and they have only won one game on their travels all season.

Paul Robinson was injured during the first half of the game and he will have a scan on his damaged calf. The absence of Robinson will be a major blow to Sam Allardyce, as the English goalkeeper has pulled off some top class saves this season. In fact, only a few weeks ago he was being tipped to return to the international scene due to his sparkling performances at times during this campaign. Jason Brown will step in between the sticks for the time being, but the sooner Robinson is fit again, the better for Blackburn as they face some tough opposition at the end of this tough season.

Ewood Park has been a fortress for Big Sam’s side this season, as they have only lost two games at home. This has allowed them to relax with 34 points with nine games remaining, meaning they will almost certainly stay safe. Luckily, they have already almost guaranteed safety, because their last few home games are incredibly difficult on paper. Rovers final five games include title-chasing Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal along with European-spot hopefuls Birmingham City and Everton.

With this testing sequence of games beginning next week against Chelsea, Big Sam will have to ensure that his defence is tight enough at the back in order to frustrate the Londoners. Rovers are constantly criticised for their defensive lapses after away games and rightfully so. Having said that, Blackburn are much better at home when it comes to defending, where they have conceded only twelve goals this season. Even Chelsea have conceded more goals at home. Nevertheless, it is vital that Allardyce works with his defenders to avoid mistakes for this huge game.

Rovers last faced Chelsea at Ewood Park earlier this season in the Carling Cup quarterfinal. That exciting game ended 3-3 after extra-time, with Blackburn eventually winning on penalties. It was on of their best performances this campaign and Allardyce will be hoping his side can produce a similar performance this coming Sunday in order to climb the table even further.

Looking ahead, it is almost derby day again in Lancashire as Blackburn will take on bitter rivals Burnley at Turf Moor next weekend. Rovers emerged victorious from the fixture earlier in the season, with a decent 3-2 victory at Ewood Park. With Burnley having an excellent record at home and Rovers playing so poorly on their travels, it would seem that the result will inevitably be a win for Burnley, however Rovers fans will well and truly be up for this match and will be hoping to have the bragging rights come full time.

But before that game come Chelsea and Birmingham at home and it is key that Rovers try and take some points from these home fixtures. The visit of Birmingham is one that Big Sam will particularly be looking to take three points from, but also a decent battle against Chelsea is a must, as Blackburn look to have a real say in where the Premier League title will end up this season.

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