Here we are again, ready for the second instalment of a Premiership Lancashire hot-pot. Fixtures between Rovers and Bolton are never pretty. Few goals, scrappy play and passionate challenges are the normal ingredients. Sunday lunch-time`s came promises to keep up the tradition.
Bolton were victorious, somewhat fortuitously, at Ewood Park earlier in the season, emerging with a 1-0 win. In many ways Rovers had only themselves to blame for wasting a number of clear openings and missing two penalties.
Mark Hughes` men will therefore be keen to exact revenge, particularly Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts. They were the culprits who missed the penalties. They also have agendas of their own following recent form. McCarthy has been rested in recent weeks after losing his spark, whereas Jason Roberets is still to score a goal in a Rovers shirt.
An extra bit of spice has been added to the fixture in the form of David Dunn. The returning Rover was within minutes of agreeing a deal with Bolton before a last minute change of heart after Rovers` bid. The Bolton fans, Sam Allardyce and the players will have been none too impressed!
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce: “Mark Hughes will not send his team out for a draw. He’ll think they’ve got more than that. Earlier on in the season, Mark couldn’t find a result from anywhere in the Premiership but did well in the Uefa Cup.Mark has turned that around by making his side more resilient and difficult to beat.”
Blackburn boss Mark Hughes: “Bolton is never an easy place to go and you know they’ll challenge you with set-plays. But we have been rock-solid at the back of late with four clean sheets.“
Aaron Mokoena on the fixture: “ It was a good feeling coming into training after beating Arsenal, but we now have to forget about Arsenal and concentrate on Bolton in the Premier League. Bolton are a difficult team to play against, especially at home. But , with the quality of players that we have and the spirit that we have right now, it is a good time for us to play them.“
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Kevin Davies, a former Rover who endured a tumultuous spell in his two years with the club, is still absent. Another ex-Rover, David Thompson, is available again after serving a ban; as is Tal Ben Haim.
Abdoulaye Meite is unavailable due to suspension.
Bolton from: Jaaskelainen, Walker, Ben Haim, Hunt, Fortune, Gardner, Nolan, Campo, Speed, Anelka, Pedersen, Teymourian, Thompson Diouf, Giannakopoulos, Faye, Vaz Te, Tal.
Player to watch: David Thompson
The former Rovers man has endured a torrid time since leaving the club. He was always been a player with undoubted talent but has been very unlucky with injuries. Brief spells with Wigan and Portsmouth before he joined Bolton were generally unsuccessful but if there is a manager who can resuscitate a players` career then it is Sam Allardyce.
Thompson himself will be keen to show to Mark Hughes, the manager who originally let him go, just what he is still capable of. His eye for the ambitious could prove to be dangerous, especially because he has the cheek to try outrageous things from time to time.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Stephen Warnock has recovered from the illness that forced him off at half-time in the mid-week F. A. Cup reply. Benni McCarthy is pushing for a start after his wonder goal against Arsenal, it is expected that Shabani Nonda will make way.
Rovers from: Friedel, Emerton, Henchoz, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Samba, Todd, Warnock, Berner, Bentley, Tugay, Mokoena, Dunn, Pedersen, McCarthy, Roberts, Nonda, Brown, Derbyshire, Gallagher.
Player to watch: David Dunn
His decision to re-join his boyhood team came as a big blow to Bolton who thought they had secured his signature. Despite Kevin Nolan`s comments this week, there will be a few hefty challenges for Dunny to ride. However, he will have fire in his belly and he is also starting to show his qualities again, demonstrated by the pass that released McCarthy for the winner in mid-week.
He is still waiting for his first goal for Rovers in his second spell and you wouldn`t bet against him to do it on Sunday lunchtime.
Match Facts & Stats
Click on the links below to see highlights from the fixture earlier in the season.
Click here to see Campo`s winner at Ewood Park.
Click here to see the mayhem at the end of the match at Ewood Park.
Only 19 miles separate the two clubs.
Bolton have the chance to complete their first double over their rivals since the 1977-78 season. However, they haven`t been victorious at hoe against the blue and white halves since 1998.
Sunday`s game is Mark Hughes 100th league match in charge of Rovers.
131 cards have been issued to the players of Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers this season. Rovers have failed to score against Bolton in their last four tries. Paul Dickov was the last player to do it.
Both clubs have scored 33 Premiership goals this season.
Rob Styles will referee his fourth Rovers match of the season. So far he has produced four reds and 73 yellows in 22 matches. So we have two of the worse disciplined sides being officiated by one of the most card happy of referees. Anyone think there could be a few cards on Sunday?
Rovers will be keen to avenge their defeat earlier in the season whereas Bolton will want to bounce back following last week`s 4-1 mauling.
With that in mind both sides will be aggressive and attack minded in a bid to score the goals needed for the three points. Bolton will continue to use their fluid three man attack and look to exploit Rovers from their greatest strength, set-pieces. With that in mind Hughes will be reminding his players not to concede needless free-kicks around the area.
On the other hand, Hughes has four fully fit strikers to choose from, all with a pint to prove, which means they will be hungry for goals.
This fixture is normally a draw and it is hard to see beyond that. 1-1
Next up for Rovers is Manchester City in the F. A. Cup quarter finals next Sunday.