Beleagured boss Steve Kean takes his rock bottom Blackburn side to Norfolk to face in-form Norwich at Carrow Road who are currently lying eight in the Premier League table just three points shy of sixth.
The Canaries have lost only one of their last five with that defeat coming against Manchester United at Old Trafford three weeks ago. Paul Lamberts side really should have taken something away in that game in a display that shows they can compete against Premier League’s top clubs. Last week’s draw against Liverpool gave credence to the fact Norwich have stepped up their game since they were promoted from the Championship with a combination of grit and determination making them hard to beat. Grant Holt came off he bench at Anfield to head home the equaliser but all the plaudits were centred on goalkeeper John Ruddy after his heroic late save from Luis Suarez’s goal bound effort. They have shown their ability to cope in the top flight with impressive wins over Bolton and Sunderland and it’s made all the more astonishing considering Lambert has moulded his squad using lower league players. The likes of Anthony Pilkington, Steve Morison and Bradley Johnson have performed above expectation this season displaying a hunger and desire to prove themselves in the Premier League. However conceding goals still remains an issue with the Canaries yet to keep a clean sheet in the league and Lambert will have to work on tightening his defence as the games start to come thick and fast during the winter period. Concentration during the last five minutes of games is something that needs to be addressed with the back line at their most vulnerable during that phase of the game.
Blackburn on the other hand have endured a disastrous season so far winning only once and losing six of their nine games. Manager Steve Kean has been the subject of intense fan protests over his tenure at the club in what has been an underwhelming 10 months in charge. Rovers were swept aside by Tottenham at Ewood Park last week although Wednesday’s last gasp Carling Cup win over high flying Newcastle will have brought a brief smile to faces of supporters. They have yet to win away from home though and a squad boasting the talents of Christopher Samba, Junior Hoilett, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Yakubu should be doing better on the road. Like their opponents they have a problem with keeping clean sheets and Kean needs to get his defence working together in order to stop the rot. Scoring goals isn’t a problem and if the back line can sort itself out then they may have a fighting chance of moving away from the drop zone. The return of Scott Dann from a calf injury is certain to aid Rovers and help to improve their poor defensive record whilst Steven N’Zonzi has served his suspension and is sure to add some steel to the midfield.
Bradley Johnson – Since joining from Leeds on a free transfer in the summer Johnson has become an integral figure in the Canaries midfield. His energy and uncompromising performances in the centre of the park have been outstanding and he’ll be key to breaking up Blackburn’s attacks and giving the likes of Pilkington and Morison a platform to attack.
Christopher Samba – The Rovers captain hasn’t been at his best this season but is still a vital member of the back line. His aerial presence will prove vital on Saturday with Morison and Holt uncompromising in the air and should the ball be launched into the penalty area Samba will be tasked with getting to it first.