Blackburn Rovers v West Bromwich Albion – Match Preview

Bouncing back will be the order of the day at Ewood Park on Saturday with both Blackburn and West Brom desperate for a win after suffering disappointing defeats last time out.

Rovers boss Steve Kean looked crestfallen once again as his side conceded two late goals at Sunderland last Sunday to lose a game they look destined to emerge victorious from. Having led through Simon Vukcevic’s early goal it looked as if Kean was about to guide his side their first away win of the season only for the Black Cats to score twice in the final six minutes and send Rovers home empty handed. It was another bitter blow in what has been an awul campaign for the Blackburn boss who has had to endure numerous protests regarding his position in the dugout whilst watching his side plummet into the bottom three following a run of two wins in 15 games. Their latest success was in the 4-2 win over Swansea a fortnight ago and Kean will be hoping his players can reproduce that performance against The Baggies on Saturday. The goals of Yakubu and emergence of young stars like Junior Hoilett, Jason Lowe and Mauro Formica has given supporters a new found optimism that their side can battle their way out of the drop zone before the new year. Picking up all three points at home against Roy Hodgson’s side will provide a much needed confidence boost going into their relegation six-pointer against bottom of the table Bolton next week.

Albion are going through a similar crisis with their stuttering start to the campaign showing no signs of easing up. Hogson’s side have been arguably the most inconsistent side in the league this season with the Baggies recording some impressive victories but always seeming to follow them up with a series of substandard performances. Their excellent away win at Midland’s rivals Aston Villa in October was followed up by two spiritless displays against Arsenal and Liverpool where they barely even put up a fight. Fast forward to the win over Bolton last month, which should have been the catalyst for Albion to go on and pull away from the drop zone. Unsurprisingly that didn’t occur with their last three games providing no victories. Last week’s home defeat against bottom of the table Wigan was by far the worst West Brom have played this season and left them perched precariously just three points above the Latics in 15th. Hodgson knows performances have to improve if his side are to get through the festive period unscathed and need’s his big players to step up and be counted. Whilst record signing Shane Long has impressed sufficiently since his summer move the likes of Peter Odemwingie, Chris Brunt and James Morison haven’t performed as consistently as they did in the previous season. A win against Blackburn on Saturday will provide a nice cushion and a major morale boost ahead of a tough run of games against Newcastle, Manchester City and Everton.

Blackburn – 19th

Last Five: Lost 2-1 v Sunderland (A). Won 4-2 v Swansea (H), Lost 3-1 v Stoke (A), Drew 3-3 v Wigan (A), Lost 1-0 v Chelsea (H)

Potential Starting X11: 1. P. Robinson 39. A. Henley 4. C. Samba [C]* 15. S. Dann 31. G. Hanley 29. S. Vukcevic 8. D. Dunn 15. S. N’Zonzi 12. M. Gamst Pedersen 10. M. Formica 24. Yakubu

Injury News: Blackburn could be without eight first team players with new injury victims Gael Givet Martin Olsson, Ruben Rochina, Jason Lowe and Michel Salgado all doubtful for Saturday.

Key Player: Christopher Samba

The Rovers skipper was a tower of strength at Sunderland last week and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. His commanding performance made it difficult for the Black Cats to find a route through to goal winning the game with two long range efforts. Samba will be put to the test again this Saturday against the speedy duo of Long and Odemwingie.

Match Fact: Blackburn have lost only once in 10 Premier League meetings with West Brom with their only defeat coming back in February 2006.

West Brom – 15th

Last Five: Lost 2-1 v Wigan (H), Drew 1-1 v QPR (A), Lost 3-1 v Tottenham (H), Won 2-0 v Bolton (H), Lost 3-0 v Arsenal (A)

Potential Starting X11: 1. B. Foster 12. S. Reid 3. J. Olsson 33. P. Scharner 20. N. Shorey 14. J. Thomas 21. Y. Mulumbu 7. J. Morrison 11. C. Brunt[C] 14. P. Odemwingie 9. S. Long*

Injury News: Albion have only one player in the treatment room with Zoltan Gera out for the rest of the season.

Key Player: Shane Long

The Irishman has settled into life in the Midlands with ease since his record breaking move from Reading and looks every inch the Premier League striker. His pace and movement can be devastating at times and he’ll be expected to utilise both against a Blackburn defence that will be keeping a close eye on him throughout.

Match Fact: The Baggies have never won a Premier League match at Ewood Park and have failed to score in their last three visits.

Last Time at Ewood Park

Premier League 23 January 2011

Blackburn 2-0 West Brom

Tamas OG (41) Hoilett (47)

Attendance: 24,057

PREDICTION

Both sides are in poor form at the moment with Blackburn still deeply rooted in the bottom three. West Brom are hovering just above the drop zone with their form away from home one of the stronger aspects of their season. Rovers fans will be looking for a repeat of their win over Swansea although Albion will prove a much sterner test at Ewood Park.

Score: 2-2