Blackburn Club Focus – Under pressure Kean with chance to ease the strain away from Ewood Park

It may be far too early in the season to be analysing the Premier League table, but the fact that even a much-needed win over Queens Park Rangers would see struggling Blackburn Rovers remain below their newly-promoted opponents suggests that these are tough times for Steve Kean and his under-performing players.

Rovers have collected a measly four points from their opening seven top-flight games this season – a return which sees them occupy the dreaded relegation zone – while Neil Warnock’s new-look side have picked up a respectable eight. However, fresh from Rovers’ recent exploits in India, Kean will be looking to seal an all-important victory over QPR for the second time in his managerial career as the lowly Lancashire outfit aim to get their season back on track.

Both sides suffered heavy league defeats last time out and it will be interesting to see which of the two teams will be able to bounce back from such bitter disappointment. Kean does have the upper hand over Warnock – the Scot did lead the former Premier League champions to a slender 1-0 victory over QPR in the FA Cup last season, in a game which was marred by a terrible injury to Rangers forward Jamie Mackie. Warnock was also particularly critical of El Hadji Diouf’s conduct in that game, however the controversial Senegalese star has since left Ewood Park.

And although there could be further controversy this weekend, given the presence of the likes of Joey Barton and the temperamental Adel Taarabt, the main aim of the game will be to see who picks up the points. Rovers are hardly superb on their travels – the Lancashire side have failed to win away from home this campaign – however this could be a brilliant chance for them to secure a valuable away result when they travel to Loftus Road. After all, QPR have yet to win on home soil this term and Warnock’s side have managed to notch up just one goal on their own patch – an own goal scored by Aston Villa’s Richard Dunne. Meanwhile, their visitors have found the net in all three of their fixtures away from home this season.

Kean has several options available for this game from an attacking point of view. The manager will be able to call upon any of Yakubu, David Goodwillie, Jason Roberts, Ruben Rochina, Nick Blackman and Jordan Slew to play up-front, while Rovers also have great strength in midfield and out wide. However, the team have been struggling for both form and fitness at the back since the start of the campaign, and although Chris Samba and Scott Dann are likely to pair up at the heart of the defence once again, it remains unclear as to who will play in the full-back positions.

This is clearly a key fixture for Kean, who is under great pressure from unhappy Rovers fans. If the Scot can lead his side to victory and consequently out of the relegation zone this weekend, then that could calm the discontent for a few days. However, another defeat may leave Venky’s with an interesting decision to make before Rovers face Tottenham Hotspur next weekend.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on QPR v Blackburn

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