David Moyes’ side failed to win once again in 2012 coming from behind to claim a point against Aston Villa last week courtesy of Victor Anichebe’s second half strike. The Toffee’s have had a poor start to the year and will be grateful that they avoided a third consecutive defeat after losing to Bolton and Tottenham in their last two games. Darron Gibson, who joined the club just days earlier, made his debut in the Midlands as Moyes went someway to filling the hole left by Mikel Arteta in the summer. The former Manchester United midfielder turned in an admirable display on his debut but couldn’t fix his new side’s goal scoring problems. Everton have struggled to find the net all season long scoring just 21 times in as many games. Their weaknesses in front of goal were exposed once again at Villa Park as they missed a series of good chances to win the game and move into the top half. With money tight at Goodison Park the prospect of a new forward coming in looks bleak. Continue on the same route this coming Saturday and they’ll be staring down the barrel of another defeat.
Blackburn would love nothing more than to take three points away from their trip to Merseyside and win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Steve Kean’s men moved out of the bottom three for the first time since September after beating Fulham 3-1 at Ewood Park despite playing much of the game with 10-men. Leading scorer Yakubu was the man to see red and his absence for the game against former club Everton although Rovers didn’t seem to miss him after his dismissal on Saturday. Their performance after their main marksman departed was arguably their best of the season as they swept aside the Cottagers with consummate ease. Morten Gamst Pedersen, who has operated in central midfield for much of the season, excelled alongside Steven N’Zonzi whilst a defence missing captain Christopher Samba coped well. Their willingness to dig in and not let their disadvantage prevent them from attaining victory should herald a change fortunes as Kean hit back his critics in style. However for every positive result there has always been a negative one lurking around the corner and it’s the Blackburn boss’ job to ensure his side retain the confidence that was so evident last weekend. A defensive performance like the one against Fulham will keep goal shy Everton out and provide a platform for another important victory.
Everton 11th : 25 points
Last six: D L L W D W
Team news: Everton have seven first team players missing although Jack Rodwell could return from a hamstring injury.
Key Player: Johnny Heitinga
With captain Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin injured leading the back four is now Heitinga’s job. The Dutchman will need to keep the Everton rear-guard together if they are to ward off another disappointing home result.
Blackburn Rovers 17th: 17 points
Last six: W L W D L L
Team news: Leading scorer Yakubu is banned but want away captain Christopher Samba and fellow defender Scott Dann could return from injury.
Key Player: Morten Gamst Pedersen
Despite playing much of the season in the centre of midfield Pedersen has been a consistent performer for Blackburn. The Norwegian is always a threat from set pieces and is the route Rovers are likely to take in their pursuit of victory.
Everton are usually poor at home and come up against a Blackburn side brimming with confidence. With their defensive options depleted the Toffees may well struggle against Steve Kean’s revitalised Rovers.