Blackburn Rovers v Chelsea – Match Preview

Chelsea, still smarting over their embarrassing defeat at home to Arsenal last week, travel to relegation threatened Blackburn with boss Steve Kean expected to bear the brunt of more fan protests.

Rovers were seconds away from beating Norwich at Carrow Road last week only to see a farcical penalty las awarded against Steven N’Zonzi at the death with Grant Holt scoring to send them home with one point instead of three. Their performance warranted more than what they eventually got but being pegged back after leading 3-1 and being on the end of poor refereeing decisions is part and parcel of life at the bottom. Kean must feel the whole world is against him at the moment with several thousand Blackburn fans continuing to remind him of their displeasure over his tenure as boss. Despite his critics being a touch on the harsh side their anger could be justified with the fact they’ve won just one Premier League game all season and just three in the 24 they’ve played since January. The fact is that they continue to leak goals at an alarming rate despite a defence possessing Christopher Samba, Ryan Nelsen and summer signing Scott Dann who could be in for a second relegation in successive seasons after he went down with Birmingham in the last campaign. Coming up a gainst a Chelsea side desperate to bounce back after two defeats on the trot isn’t ideal for Kean and another defeat will surely force the clubs Indian owners to bring his job under review despite stating they wouldn’t sack him for the duration of his two year contract. Their record against the Blues doesn’t provoke much confidence with only one win in 16 top-flight meetings.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side are unbeaten in their last 10 against Rovers but shouldn’t go into this game thinking it’s going to be a guaranteed three points. Their last two performances have been well under-par with their Portuguese coach coming under increasing pressure to turn things around at Stamford Bridge. They surrendered third place last week after they were overtaken by Newcastle and will be out to reclaim their spot and keep themselves in with a chance of challenging for the title. One thing Villas-Boas needs to addresses the defence after they were carved open again and again by Arsenal last Saturday. They have failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 games since the opening day of the season with 15 goals conceded in the process with the fragile performances of John Terry causing concern. The back line was unable to cope with the Gunners pace or creativity with Ashley Cole also experienced an afternoon to forget up against Theo Walcott.  It’s a far cry from the days of Jose Mourinho where Terry was virtually impenetrable and the game plan was to snuff out the opposition attack rather than score goals. I’d expect Chelsea to adopt a similar approach at Ewood Park and play for a 1-0 like they used to do under the Special One. That could mean a reshuffle up top with Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba all battling for a place in attack with Villas-Boas likely to chose one out for four to lead the line.

Key Players

Junior Hoilett – It’s easy to point out that the Canadian winger has been Rovers’ best player this season. His pace and tricker on the wing is vital to the way they attack and his stunning goal at Norwich last week and he’ll be looking to do a similar job to the one carried out by Walcott on Cole last week.

Frank Lampard – If theres one man that can get Chelsea out of their current rut it’s Lampard. His performance last week was top notch with his desire in midfield and passing guile giving the Blues something going forward in what was a lacklustre display. The goals have started to flow again so expect to see him hitting a few long range efforts this week.

Prediction: 1-2

  • Blackburn covered 119,527 metres in that game, and a frantic second half that saw six goals scored saw Rovers cover more ground in the second half (60,151m) than in the first half (59,376m)
  • While most teams show a depreciation in distance covered in the second half, Rovers have covered more ground in the latter 45 minutes in 6 of their 10 games this season
  • Frank Lampard has contributed 4 assists, meaning he has had a hand in 43% of Chelsea’s goals this season
  • Lampard is also the top passer in the Chelsea squad, having completed 209 passes (one every 3 minutes 57 seconds) and has covered mnore ground than any Chelsea player other than Ashley Cole and John Terry for the Chelsea cause