Club Focus – Blackburn – Extra position could mean extra players

Sam Allardyce was left relatively disappointed with Blackburn’s result against Wolves this weekend, where Rovers could only manage an unspectacular 1-1 draw – a result that secured the Premier League status of their battling opponents. Although Blackburn were practically assured safety themselves a long time ago – thanks to their magnificent home form – Big Sam was hoping to collect maximum points from games such as this in order to finish as high up the table as possible. Nevertheless, the Lancashire side are definitely still in with a decent chance of finishing inside the top ten, which would be quite a remarkable achievement for a club who are unable to compete financially with many other teams in the Premiership.

Blackburn certainly seemed the side more likely to emerge victorious from this game with both Nikola Kalinic and midfield maestro Keith Andrews rather unfortunate to see their fine efforts come off the post on both occasions. Skipper Ryan Nelsen did manage to open the scoring though, only for Rovers to concede a late 80th minute goal from Wolves top-scorer last season – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. The forward has only scored a meagre two goals this campaign and his colleagues have only managed a paltry 11 home goals all season, indicating where they will have to strengthen for next season. Rovers have had problems in the same department, albeit they have proved lacklustre in front of goal on their travels rather than on home soil. Only Stoke, Hull and Portsmouth have scored fewer goals away from home than Blackburn’s twelve – something that Sam Allardyce is already looking to improve for the future.

Croatian youngster Nikola Kalinic will undoubtedly blossom into a brilliant striker given the experience and time needed to settle into the demanding and tough Premier League. Sadly, the hard-working forward has only managed to find the net twice in the league this season, which is significantly one of the reasons his side have struggled on their travels. Nonetheless, there is absolutely enough in his game to suggest he has the potential to get much better in front of goal and this has already been proved by some decent goals in the cup competitions this season. As for the attacking department as a whole – Allardyce has been searching long and hard for another quality addition to the squad, seeing as he will have only two strikers at his disposal come the end of the season, when young Argentinean target-man Franco Di Santo is returned to Chelsea from his season-long loan spell. Last month, Aruna Dindane was rumoured to be on his way to Ewood Park in a £3m deal, however that deal did not go ahead and might not go through at all. Instead, Robert Lewandowski is being touted to move to England, though the young Pole will not come cheap. His club are holding out for £5m – which is slightly expensive for Rovers. Although a dazzling young player with an optimistic future ahead, signing Lewandowski could prove to be a costly risk, which is unaffordable for a club like Blackburn who are already low on transfer funds. Nevertheless, should Blackburn beat the fierce competition and the deal goes through, Rovers will be more than happy to bring yet another classy youngster to the club.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s visit to Ewood Park on Bank Holiday Monday will be Blackburn’s final home game of this solid campaign. With both sides playing for little, it should be a more entertaining and enjoyable game. Rovers have had an excellent time at home this season, losing only three games all campaign and holding the likes of title-chasing Chelsea and Man Utd as well as five-time Champions League winners Liverpool to respectable draws. The last game will provide a brilliant opportunity for the faithful local fans to show their genuine appreciation for a good positive season, which has seen their established side avoid relegation very comfortably whilst also completing the double over fierce rivals Burnley. Rovers will now look to build for next campaign, but victory over the Gunners would be massive and could lift them up a spot in the table, which is valuable, as Allardyce admits “in this league every position is worth £750,000 and that is a good down payment on a decent player.” Therefore, Rovers will be looking to win this game as much as any other, not only to send the fans home happy from Ewood for the final time this season, but also simply because they could have access to increased funds, the higher up they manage to finish in the league.

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