Club Focus – Blackburn – Momentum the key for Rovers ahead of Arsenal clash

Having won their opening Premier League fixture of the season against a highly rated Everton side last weekend, Blackburn Rovers came up against a tough Birmingham team at St Andrews. Sam Allardyce’s men slumped to a 2-1 defeat, with the manager somewhat unhappy with the negative result; largely due to the fact his side threw away a valuable lead.

Speaking after the game, Allardyce said “The sad thing is that winning this game was very, very important to our confidence as an away side in the Premier League and we’ve gone and let it slip. It would’ve given us four wins on the trot, including last season. That breeds a lot of confidence in terms of starting this season as we finished the last. Now we’ve put ourselves back to square one.”

The Rovers boss now believes his side need to get something from their next league game against a strong Arsenal side. The Blues did beat the Gunners at home towards the end of last season and will now be aiming for a similar result when the two sides meet at Ewood Park next weekend.

As for the performance against Birmingham, Rovers took the lead through young Frenchman Steven N’Zonzi, who was deputising for injured local-boy David Dunn. The creativity of Dunn was noticeably lacking against his former club and Birmingham managed to force an equaliser almost immediately through Craig Gardner. Gardner then sealed the victory for Alex McLeish’s side thanks to a stunning long-range effort in the 70th minute, which Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson should arguably have kept out.

Nevertheless, it could have been a very different story had Rovers winger Morten Gamst Pedersen converted a penalty minutes before N’Zonzi’s headed goal. The midfielder’s fierce effort was saved impressively by Birmingham stopper Ben Foster, who was in fine form throughout the game. Foster’s save kept his side in the contest, which they went on to win primarily due to his excellence.

It is evident that Rovers will need another striker and possibly another attacking-midfielder before the transfer window slams shut at the end of this month, particularly with the injury-prone David Dunn likely to miss his fair share of games this season. Although Allardyce has some quality hard-working strikers in Croatian Nikola Kalinic and Mame Diouf, the Rovers boss is still looking to strengthen his forward line and the club have reportedly made a bid for another striker, although they are not willing to reveal his identity in case of the deal being hijacked by any rivals. Another forward would definitely be welcome at Ewood Park.

The Lancashire side have also been linked with some high profile players, the latest rumour being that Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra is on his way to Rovers in a £6.5m swoop. The Spanish giants no longer need Diarra and Jose Mourinho is looking forward to clearing out the dead wood from his current squad. However, any such deal does seem unlikely, unless the proposed takeover of the club goes through very quickly indeed.

Nevertheless, prospective buyer Ahsan Ali Syed is already talking up potential signings should he take over the reigns at Ewood Park. If his words are to believed, legendary midfielder David Beckham could be on his way to Lancashire. Speaking of the move Syed said “I used to like Blackburn back then and also used to follow Manchester United’s fortunes because of David Beckham. If my finances allow and his intentions are positive, then I would love to take Beckham to Blackburn.”

Whether Beckham could be lured into joining the former Premiership champions is an entirely different question, however the ambition of Syed is likely to excite Rovers fans, who are hoping for a rich owner to provide sufficient money which will in turn lift the side higher up the table. Should Syed become owner, Blackburn may not sign Beckham, but they will certainly be looking to bring some high-profile players to the club.

Looking ahead, Rovers play Norwich at Ewood Park on Tuesday in the second round of the Carling Cup. Last season, Blackburn memorably made their way to the semi-final stage of the competition, defeating Chelsea on penalties in the process. Sam Allardyce will be looking for his side to secure a comfortable victory over the former Premiership club and it is likely that the Rovers boss will rest a couple of his first-team players. Should Rovers secure victory on Tuesday, they will then go into the game against Arsenal with some confidence.

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