Club Focus – Blackburn – Big Sam looking to capitalise on Spurs’ domestic troubles

Blackburn Rovers returned to Ewood Park with all three points on Wednesday night after they beat high-flying Newcastle 2-1 at St James’ Park. Sam Allardyce always enjoys beating his former clubs and this was no exception to the rule as the former Bolton and Newcastle boss was delighted with his side’s excellent victory.

Rovers had beaten Wigan last weekend, albeit unconvincingly and this game in the North East was always going to provide a sterner test for Big Sam’s men, however they coped brilliantly. It took the visitors just three minutes to break down the Newcastle defence. Morten Gamst Pedersen, who scored a magnificent goal against Wigan last time out, capitalised on Cheik Tiote’s mistake and drilled past Krul in the Magpies net.

Rovers continued to attack and seemed more than capable of preventing Newcastle from scoring. But the hosts improved in the second period and it took just two second half minutes for in-form Englishman Andrew Carroll to head past Paul Robinson and equal the scores.

Joey Barton’s punch on Pedersen then went unpunished, before Blackburn grabbed a winner thanks to Jason Roberts. Roberts, who did not even have a squad number at the start of the season, scored his second winning goal in five days when he slotted past Krul in the 82nd minute. Rovers held on to take all three points and the Lancashire side find themselves in a mid-table position, just two points behind Newcastle who are up in fifth.

But the work does not end there. Such is the tightness of the Premier League table that a couple of defeats could see Rovers drop back into the relegation zone, so Big Sam’s side must aim to continue winning matches and climbing even further up the league. Next up for Blackburn is a trip to North London to face Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Redknapp’s men may have shocked European champions Inter Milan a couple of weeks ago, but they certainly aren’t setting the Premier League alight with their performances this campaign. In fact, the London side find themselves only a point above Rovers at the moment, so Allardyce’s men have a real incentive to win and leapfrog their opponents.

However, it will be tough. Spurs have lost only once at home in the Premiership this season and Redknapp has an excellent side full of quality players who will give Rovers a real run for their money. On the other hand, the Londoners are not in the best of form. Since their historic win over Internazionale, they have taken just a point from two league games, compared to Rovers taking a maximum six, so the Blues should go into the match more confident and with every chance of winning.

If Rovers start the game well, just as they did against Newcastle, then they could puzzle Spurs. Big Sam’s side are always organised and strong, so they will close down Tottenham attacks better than other teams do, but it is what Rovers do with the possession they get which will be important. If they manage to snatch a goal, Allardyce’s men are more than capable of frustrating Spurs; however the Londoners do have several key players in their side who could cause problems for the visitors too, namely Rafael van Der Vaart and Gareth Bale. This one could go either way.

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