Blackburn Club Focus – Spurs trip not so daunting anymore

Steve Kean’s struggling Blackburn Rovers side will travel to White Hart Lane this weekend, knowing that a much-needed victory against top-four hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur would boost their chances of survival in the top division of English football.

While many neutrals will have Spurs down as favourites to win due to their vastly superior position in the table, recent form suggests that the north London outfit may find it difficult to overcome a resilient Rovers side who will be fighting for their Premier League lives.

Harry Redknapp’s men have won just one of their last nine top-flight fixtures, while Rovers have notched up three victories in that time. And although the Lancashire club have been poor on the road of late – Blackburn have lost three consecutive away matches in the league – Spurs have hardly been in sparkling form on their own turf, picking up a meagre four points from their last four home games. In truth, despite fighting at almost opposite ends of the table, both teams are in poor form and this is a must-win clash for the two sides as they aim to achieve their objectives with time running out.

Of course, the visitors will head into this fixture on the back of a solid 2-0 victory over Norwich City. Argentine midfielder Mauro Formica opened the scoring at Ewood Park, but it was Junior Hoilett’s terrific, long-range, curling effort which attracted the most attention. Kean will be relying on the Canadian youngster to produce the goods over the next few weeks as Rovers look to avoid slipping into the Championship.

Meanwhile, Spurs last tasted success almost a month ago, when they recorded a 3-1 win over Swansea. Since then, Redknapp’s Champions League-chasing side have drawn at Sunderland and lost to both Norwich and Queens Park Rangers. These results have left Tottenham trailing fourth-place Newcastle by three points. A win this weekend could see the White Hart Lane climb above the Magpies, but a poor result would dent their chances of doing so before the season is out.

While Rovers’ nervous supporters will be hoping to see their side collect maximum points, the travelling fans will also offer a warm applause for one of the opposition players. Defender Ryan Nelsen spent seven memorable years at Ewood Park after Mark Hughes signed him for Blackburn from DC United on a free transfer. The sturdy, reliable centre-back quickly became a fans’ favourite in Lancashire and was eventually made Rovers’ club captain. However, the 34-year-old was allowed to leave for Tottenham in the last transfer window – a move which upset a number of passionate Blackburn fans who appreciated the great commitment Nelsen showed while he wore the blue and white shirt.

And Nelsen recognised the importance of this game for ex-club as he told Tottenham Hotspur’s official website: “Blackburn will be really up for it in the position they are in as well. It will be difficult game.” He added: “Junior Hoilett is a fantastic prospect and we all know about Yakubu, he scores goals wherever he goes. They have some dangerous players, certainly, but so have we and we have to look at this game as a potential three points for us. It’s a huge game for both teams, a must-win.”

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