Club Focus – Chelsea – Tough trip awaits Blues against former bogey side Blackburn

Chelsea travel to Blackburn Rovers this weekend looking to return to winning ways on the road after dropping points on their last two away days. Trips to Manchester City and Aston Villa resulted in no goals scored and just one point – achieved from a fruitless stalemate at Villa Park – and the Premier League leaders will no doubt be looking to break their poor run away from Stamford Bridge in Lancashire on Saturday.

The Blues have enjoyed a good recent record over Blackburn after a barren run against the Lancashire club in the early Premier League years. The clubs’ fortunes were reversed 15 years ago as Blackburn fought Manchester United for the Premier League crown, lifting the trophy in 1994-95 season with Alan Shearer leading the attack and Kenny Dalglish in the dugout as Rovers celebrated winning the title.

Chelsea, on the other hand were not the affluent club they have now become. They finished 11th in the Premier League table the season of Blackburn’s title win and were often scrapping in the mid-table, occasionally qualifying for European competitions before Ruud Gullit’s ‘sexy football’ revolution of the mid-1990s brought more regular success to South West London. In fact, the Londoners record against Blackburn was so poor they failed to beat them in their first 12 Premiership (as it was then) matches, enduring a run of seven consecutive defeats home and away to Rovers between 1993-96, a dire stretch that rightly saw the Lancastrians designated Chelsea’s bogey side.

The Blues finally broke Blackburn’s hoodoo over them in a Premier League classic tie at Ewood Park in September 1998, in which they returned to London 4-3 victors, courtesy of a late fight back from 3-2 down thanks to a double by substitute Tore Andre Flo as Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea showed they were ready to compete for the title after years of hard work at Stamford Bridge.

Nowadays the tide has turned and Chelsea have enjoyed recent bragging rights against their former foes. After that Ewood Park win in 1998 the Blues only beat Rovers once in six League matches up to the start of the 2003/04 season, but since Roman Abramovich took over as Chelsea owner his side have had much the better of Blackburn, winning 10 of their last 12 encounters. Last season Carlo Ancelotti took his Chelsea side to Ewood Park twice and returned without a win. The two sides met in the Carling Cup quarter-finals and the home side went through winning 4-3 on penalties following a 3-3 draw after extra-time. They shared the spoils later in the season in a hard fought 1-1 Premier League draw in March, as El-Hadji Diouf equalised midway through the second half after Didier Drogba had put the visitors ahead.

Rovers have endured a tough start to this Premier League season, currently sitting 17th in the table, only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. They welcome Chelsea to Ewood Park in sporadic home form too – one win, two draws and a defeat in their four League games so far this season, with the sole victory coming on the opening day back in August, 1-0 over Everton.

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