Rovers manager Steve Kean saw his side end 2011 in some style beating Manchester United at Old Trafford and moving to within a point of safety. But they fell back into old habits in their first fixture of the New Year turning in a tame display just 48 hours later against Stoke. It’s been the same old story all season for Kean who has seen his players fail to build on some impressive wins with their inability to string a positive set of results together arguably their biggest issue. Their victory over Arsenal in September was followed by an eight game winless run before they beat Swansea at the start of December. Unfortunately they went onto lose three and draw one of the four games after before beating United on New Years Eve. Not even the goals of Yakubu have been enough for Rovers to pull away from danger although any side would struggle with an injury list Kean has had to contend with. The beleaguered boss is missing eight first team players including influential skipper Christopher Samba. His absence for the visit of Fulham is a massive blow for Rovers as they aim to build some momentum in 2012.
Fulham are another side keen to force themselves into the Premier League top ten and began 2012 after a strong festive period. Despite losing being hammered at home by Manchester United performances have steadily improved for Martin Jol’s side with their relegation fears being allayed by wins over Liverpool, Bolton and Arsenal over Christmas. Draws at Chelsea and Fulham have also proved priceless in their efforts to remedy a slow start to the campaign that threatened to drag them towards danger. They now sit seven points above the drop zone and Jol can now look forward instead of constantly peering over his shoulder. His exciting attacking trio of Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz have been the Cottagers’ shining lights in recent weeks providing excitement and more importantly goals in the final third. Supporters will be expecting them to provide more of the same at Ewood Park on Saturday and improve an away record that has seen Fulham win just once in 10 games on their travels.
Blackburn Rovers 20th : 14 points
Last six: L W D L L L
Team news: Blackburn are without eight key first team players with captain Christopher Samba, Junior Hoilett, Paul Robinson and Scott Dann the biggest absentees.
Key Player: Yakubu
In a season of struggle goals have come easy for Blackburn with Steve Kean’s decision to sign Yakubu proving a shrewd one. Rovers will be hoping the Nigerian can maintain his hot streak in front of goal and fire the club to safety.
Fulham 14th : 23 points
Last six: W D D L W L
Team news: This game will come too soon for Mark Schwarzer whilst Andy Johnson and Simon Davies also remain on the sidelines.
Key Player: Clint Dempsey
It’s been a brilliant month and a half for Dempsey who has become arguably Fulham’s best player in that. His performances over Christmas were of the highest quality scoring goals against Liverpool, Bolton and Chelsea and more will be expected against struggling Blackburn.
Blackburn failed to build on their stunning win at Manchester United and will be hoping to kick start their survival bid against Fulham. The Cottagers are in good form and should travel back to the Thames with thee points in the bag.