Club Focus – Blackburn – Hoilett and Olsson inspire Rovers to victory over Liverpool

Blackburn Rovers produced a stunning performance to beat struggling Liverpool 3-1 at Ewood Park on Wednesday night. The Blues went into the game missing half a dozen key players and following defeat to Sunderland last time out, fans were not exactly expecting to get a result against Roy Hodgson’s Reds. However, Steve Kean silenced his critics with an inspiring first home victory under his watch and supporters were full of praise for the Scotsman after the match.

The former first-team coach got his tactics spot on as Rovers outclassed their illustrious opponents. In past seasons, under Sam Allardyce, the Blues would have gone into this kind of game with caution and with the aim of trying to avoid defeat. But Kean appears to be more adventurous in his approach. Based on performances under his management so far, he is keen to try and play to the weaknesses of opponents and this was evident against Liverpool, where the frightening pace and creativity of Junior Hoilett and Martin Olsson proved destructive.

Both played a major part in the result. Olsson opened the scoring with a cool strike, following a slick pass from Mame Diouf. Benjani’s effort to make it 2-0 was sensational, but it was the determination and work rate of Hoilett to set up the third goal which impressed most. Indeed, the Canadian youngster was named the sponsor’s man of the match and Hoilett is proving to be a real weapon for Rovers.

A special mention must also go to skipper Chris Samba who produced a quality performance to see off the Reds. Samba, who has missed recent games through injury, is reportedly unsettled at Ewood Park following the departure of Allardyce, however his commitment was never in doubt against Liverpool. The tall centre-back was excellent defensively and also a significant force in helping Rovers push forward. With victory over Liverpool and a more exciting brand of football being played by Rovers, Samba may decide his future does rest at Ewood Park after all.

Although the Blues’ bid for Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho seems to have failed, it showed the ambition of the new owners. The former World Player of the Year looks set to join Gremio, but Venky’s must be given credit for trying to lure the creative midfielder to the Premier League. As of yet, there have been no new signings made by Rovers, but Kean is hopeful that he will be able to bring in two or three players over the next week or so.

Next up for Rovers is a tricky FA Cup tie against Championship high-flyers QPR. Neil Warnock’s side will undoubtedly feel they can cause an upset at Ewood Park, however if Blackburn’s last performance against Liverpool is anything to go by, then the home side should be clear favourites ahead of this clash. Considering the QPR game could prove to be a potential banana skin for the Blues, progression to the next round of the competition would further impress the Ewood Park faithful as Kean’s reputation continues to grow.

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