Following five consecutive disappointing, demoralising defeats in a row for the first time since the disastrous reign of Paul Ince, it is easy to understand why some of Blackburn Rovers’ most passionate supporters have all but given up hope of seeing their side survive in the Premier League this season. Relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic’s shock win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night dampened Rovers’ fans hopes even further, with that result leaving Roberto Martinez’s battling side six points clear of the Ewood Park outfit with just four games to go.
However, it must be remembered that Blackburn are currently just three points behind 17th-place Queens Park Rangers, meaning that should Steve Kean’s under-performing team record a win over Norwich and local rivals Bolton lose, then Rovers could find themselves hanging in the drop zone on goal difference alone come 5pm on Saturday afternoon.
With time running out and a couple of tough away fixtures to come, Rovers do face a huge battle to stay up this season. Of course, the Lancashire outfit are relying heavily on the teams in and around them to go on poor runs for the remainder of the campaign. But, thanks to a somewhat impressive string of results in March, Kean’s side still have a chance of avoiding the drop. In order to pull off the great escape however, Blackburn will almost certainly have to beat Norwich. Given the Canaries’ excellent showing in the top-flight this term, Saturday’s fixture at Ewood Park will be no six-pointer. However, the result could make or break Rovers’ season.
Norwich are the only team outside the top-six to have scored more goals than Blackburn in the Premier League so far this season. Therefore, it is essential that the hosts, who have conceded the joint-most number of goals this term, are able to call upon their strongest and most experienced defenders for this clash. Talented Scot Grant Hanley could be out for the remainder of the season following an injury he sustained at Swansea last time out; therefore summer signing Scott Dann is likely to need a new partner at the heart of Rovers’ defence. The home fans will be desperately hoping that versatile Frenchman Gael Givet, who missed the last game because he was not in the right frame of mind, has resolved his issues with Kean and is available for this match.
The much-maligned manager is also sweating on the fitness of star duo Junior Hoilett and Yakubu, who were also taken off with injuries at the Liberty Stadium. The exciting attackers have chipped in with a number of significant goals this term and their presence is likely to be key if Rovers are to take maximum points this weekend. However, if the pair fail to prove their fitness ahead of this game, then could this be the perfect opportunity to hand the likes of out-of-favour attacking midfielders Simon Vukcevic and Ruben Rochina a chance to prove their worth? Either of the underused players is capable of producing moments of magic and the hosts may well need a flash of genius to record victory over a top-half chasing Norwich side.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Blackburn