Date: 9th December 2007 at 9:29am
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On Sky

A certain Mr Lucas Neill returns to Rovers again on Sunday afternoon when he leads his West Ham United side at Ewood Park.

It is a big match between two sides that will be looking to be in the mix for a UEFA Cup place (at least!!!) when the seasons ends.

Vital Quotes:

Mark Hughes on why there is more to come from Rovers:
Whether or not it is a consequence of how we train, we are always stronger in the second half of seasons and that has been the case since I have been here.

‘We are very excited by our start, and if we can capitalise on that and have a similar second half of the season, then who knows what we can achieve

Lucas Neill on another Rovers return:
They’re a very organised and fit outfit and I have great respect for Mark Hughes and his team but there will be no greater pleasure than matching them for their work-rate and taking the spoils.”

Brett Emerton on the importance of the match:
It is going to be a very important game for us, you can call it a six-pointer even at this stage of the season because these are the teams we need to beat if we are going to finish in the European qualifying places.”

Blackburn Rovers Team News:

David Bentley, fresh from his two superb strikes against Newcastle United is suspended as he also picked up his fifth yellow card, he joins Ryan Nelsen still suspended after a scandalous sending off against Aston Villa.

Robbie Savage will be hoping to start after sitting out the last three matches since his return from injury and Jason Roberts is pushing for a start.

Blackburn (from): Friedel, Emerton, Ooijer, Samba, Warnock, Tugay, Mokoena, Reid, Dunn, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, McCarthy, Roberts, Brown, Savage, Berner, Derbyshire, Khizanishvili, Treacy.

Player to watch: Benni McCarthy

A lot has been said about McCarthy’s reaction to being taken off against Newcastle last Saturday, with a lot of newspaper talk trying to claim he was wanting to move. It will be interesting to see (assuming he starts?!?!) how he reacts.

West Ham United Team News:

Dean Ashton is back after his most recent injury setback, after coming on as a substitute in their last match he could start and Lee Bowyer could also return after injury.

Craig Bellamy misses out on another possible return to Ewood Park through injury, but Lucas Neill will return again, as he captains West Ham.

West Ham (from): Green, McCarthy, Gabbidon, Upson, Neill, Etherington, Boa Morte, Parker, Mullins, Noble, Solano, Ljungberg, Cole, Ashton, Wright, Spector, Collins.

Player to watch: Lucas Neill

Personally I have moved on from the thoughts I had about his leaving Rovers (still think it was more than just football related though, and had something more to do wih money!) but eyes will definitely be focused on the former Ewood favourite.

Match Facts & Stats

West Ham have only lost twice in their last ten Premier League visits to Ewood Park, and they have won their last three against Blackburn in League and Cup.

Rovers do have the upper hand in all meetings though.

Previous League Meetings
Blackburn 42 wins, The Hammered 35 wins, Draws 11
Premiership League: Blackburn 8 wins, The Hammered 10 wins, Draws 2

Previous League Meetings At Ewood Park
Blackburn 28 wins, West Ham 11 wins, Draws 5
Premiership: Blackburn 7 wins, West Ham 2 wins, Draws 1

Ref Watch:

Mr Alan Wiley

Match Prediction:

West Ham have been a bogey team for Rovers recently, and SOME HOW managed to win at Ewood Park and Upton Park last season, so I think it would be fair to say that Rovers owe them one.

The 3-1 victory over Newcastle last Saturday made up for the disappointing (yet unfair!) 4-0 defeat against Aston Villa so it’ll be another Rovers win.

Next Fixtures:

A trip to the JJB Stadium to face Wigan Athletic, followed by the Carling Cup Quarter Final against Arsenal at Ewood Park.


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