If relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers manage to preserve their Premier League status this season, it will be largely thanks to the goalscoring exploits of deadly striker Yakubu. The Nigerian forward has been in sensational form for the Lancashire outfit since signing from Everton last summer and the 29-year-old’s cool opening finish against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday was his 13th goal in just 17 top-flight appearances – a phenomenal return for a player who cost the club just £1.5m.
It is relatively unsurprising to hear that QPR were just one of the clubs interested in acquiring Yakubu’s services during the recent transfer window. While Rovers have stressed than no official bid was made, the Nigerian believes it would not have made a difference anyway. He said: “Blackburn gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League again so for me to just go and want to leave, I don’t want to do that. I’m lucky to be here today, they gave me the opportunity to prove myself so why do I have to leave?”
Yakubu, who returned from a three-match suspension against QPR, is repaying Rovers’ faith in him with every passing game. In addition to a superb goal tally, when it comes to taking his chances, Blackburn’s Number 24 is the deadliest in the league. Yakubu’s conversion rate of 38% is nothing short of remarkable, particularly for a player who was widely criticised for his efforts during a torrid final few months of his Everton career.
Rovers’ relegation rivals have every reason to be jealous of Steve Kean’s star man and best signing. While most teams at the bottom of the league generally tend to concede a great number of goals, not all of those struggling sides have a prolific striker on their books. Wolves may be happy with Steven Fletcher’s 10 goal contribution this term and QPR will also be correct to point out that Heidar Helguson has eight strikes to his name, but Yakubu still comes out on top. And the Nigerian has scored more league goals than Bolton’s top-scorer Ivan Klasnic (seven) and Wigan’s Franco di Santo (four) combined. This alone is likely to give Rovers’ fans some much-needed hope ahead of what promises to be a nerve-racking final few months of the season.
The first half of Blackburn’s 3-2 victory over QPR highlighted all the positives of their style of play under Kean. Rovers turned their dominance into three well-worked goals and by half-time; the game was as good as over. But a poor second-half display will have given the Scotsman a reminder of exactly why his side are so low down the table. Rovers crumbled at the back and invited pressure, with Kean’s switch from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 partially to blame. Fortunately for the manager, the hosts held out for maximum points, which helped to see them climb out of the drop-zone. The Lancashire outfit can now start planning for a trip to the Etihad Stadium in a couple of weeks time, where Yakubu will hope to continue his outstanding run in front of goal.
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