Club Focus – Blackburn – Rovers looking for a bright start against Everton

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The biggest news surrounding Blackburn Rovers this week was regarding fourth choice goalkeeper Frankie Fielding. England’s Under-21 stopper was drafted into Fabio Capello’s first team for the friendly against Hungary at Wembley. The shock call up surprised many in Lancashire and across the country, largely due to the fact he has not played a single game for Blackburn. Behind Paul Robinson, Jason Brown and Mark Bunn in the pecking order at Ewood Park, this unexpected experience could allow Fielding to hold talks with Rovers boss Sam Allardyce and persuade the manager that he is good enough to challenge the impressive Paul Robinson for the goalkeeper’s jersey this campaign.

There was much speculation about a potential takeover of the club last week, however those rumours have now cooled ahead of the new season. Having signed Manchester United striker Mame Diouf on a season long loan, Big Sam is still searching for another forward before the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month. Talks of Daniel Guiza joining the Lancashire side have disappeared, however, it does now seem likely that former Manchester City man Benjani Mwaruwari will soon join the Ewood Park outfit. The Zimbabwean attacker has been released by City, leaving a possible move to Rovers still very much on the cards. Blackburn are not blessed with the financial backing that teams like Manchester City enjoy, therefore such an experienced free signing could do the trick for Big Sam, who will need his strikers to perform if Rovers are to match the top half finish they achieved in the Premier League last season.

Nevertheless, that move seems unlikely to be concluded before Blackburn begin their Premiership campaign at home to Everton on Saturday. The Merseysiders will be looking to repeat their success at Ewood Park last season, where they secured a memorable 3-2 victory over Big Sam’s men. Although it was one of only three occasions where Rovers had been beaten on home turf, Blackburn fans will remember the match for a stunning goal scored by Frenchman Steven N’Zonzi. The defensive midfielder let fly from thirty yards and his powerful effort was undoubtedly one of the goals of the season. The manager will certainly be hoping for more of the same this weekend and ideally three points in the bag this time around too.

With Mame Diouf the only addition to Blackburn’s squad this summer, it seems unlikely that Big Sam will change his style of play ahead of the game. Allardyce will have to decide whether Diouf or Croatian youngster Nikola Kalinic will lead the line, just in front of the inspirational attack-minded David Dunn. N’Zonzi is almost certain to play, seeing as he was one of the first names on the team-sheet last year. Another decision that has to be made is whether Phil Jones will play or not. Captain Ryan Nelsen impressed for New Zealand at the World Cup this summer, whilst Chris Samba is also always a certain starter for Rovers, therefore Big Sam could well leave Jones on the bench for the opening game. Fortunately for Allardyce, he seemingly has a selection headache on his hands.

As for the outcome of the game itself, well Blackburn will be looking to keep Ewood Park a fortress just as it became last season. In the previous campaign, Rovers lost only thrice at home and managed to keep the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and champions Chelsea at bay, whilst also beating Arsenal. Similar home form this season could be more difficult to achieve thanks to the ever improving quality of teams in the Premier League, but such a run would definitely help Rovers on their way to another top half finish.

Everton have a very talented squad, including many skilful players such as Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, whose creativity will keep the home side busy during spells of the game. David Moyes’s men are also strong at the back and appear to be well-organised most of the time, therefore Rovers will also have to ensure they test the Toffee’s backline. All in all it should be a testing encounter for both sides who will be looking to excite their fans in the opening game of a new season. Should Rovers manage to beat their opponents, the team will have reason to be even more confident for the season ahead.

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