Date: 31st January 2007 at 11:47am
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After the leisurely kick-about at Saturday lunch-time Rovers come face to face with a team wounded by results and adverse talk about inner turmoil, which ultimately means it will be a tough evening ahead.

Rovers are still to pick up a point in London this season after another under-par display against lowly opposition. The defeat against Watford last Tuesday came as a surprise to many but it should have been envisaged as Rovers seem incapable of taking advantage of struggling sides.

It is a completely different story on Wednesday as Rovers face reigning Champions Chelsea, who have already enjoyed consecutive 2-0 victories over Rovers this season.

Chelsea have stuttered of late due to the ‘injury crisis` that has ruled out their star man John Terry. This has raised notions of a one-man team, incapable of competing sufficiently without their captain. However, convincing victories against League One and Two opposition has raised the clouds of gloom.

With both sides missing key players it will be a game for the taking. Rovers are due some luck in London and this could be the night.

Vital Quotes:

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard on Andriy Shevchenko: “There was so much stuff spoken about Sheva, and it was unfair – because a lot of it comes from the outside. It is nothing to do with him.
“He is a world-class player and has shown that for so many years. He just wants to score goals – and he’s done that for the last couple of games.
“Let’s hope he continues, because we need strikers who can score goals. Andriy and Didier Drogba are two of the best, and we need them firing.

Mark Hughes on Chelsea: “Injuries to John Terry and Petr Cech have obviously affected their balance and flow but they have still been able to win a significant amount of matches. Even though some people are trying to say it is a crisis they are still a quality side, even when maybe they are not playing up to the level they have attained before.
“We know we will have to produce to the level we are capable of, and if we do that we have a good opportunity. We have to ask questions of them and cannot allow a team like Chelsea to attack at will.

Chelsea Team News:

This game comes too soon for John Terry who is expected to return against Charlton. Arjen Robben is also likely to be missing due to an ankle injury however, Michael Ballack and Claude Makelele are set to return.

Petr Cech will continue in goal supported by his face guard.

Chelsea squad: Hilario, Cech, Cudicini, Ferreira, Geremi, Carvalho, Essien, Bridge, A Cole, Lampard, Drogba, Diarra, Mikel, Shevchenko, Wright-Phillips, Kalou, Woods, Ballack, Morais.

Player to watch: Andriy Shevchenko

Despite what everyone may say the boy is still world class and has found goals easier to come by recently which will have lifted his confidence. He is a player who thrives on confidence and he will be flying after finding the net against Wycombe and Nottingham Forest. However, he will be eager to score a Premiership goal as he has found these particularly hard to come by, unlike his strike partner, Didier Drogba.

His pace against Rovers` defence will cause plenty of problems for Hughes.

Blackburn Rovers Team News:

Ryan Nelsen is set to start his first Premiership match of the season after featuring for 70 minutes against Luton at the weekend. David Dunn is not fit enough for the standard Rovers expect so he isn`t included.

Bruno Berner is in the squad having recently signed from Basel. He is joined by Tugay who has recovered from the hamstring strain that kept him out of the Luton tie. Jason Roberts is still not quite ready for a return.

Rovers squad: Friedel, Henchoz, Khizanishvili, Emerton, Warnock, Bentley, Pedersen, Mokoena, Tugay, Nelsen, Derbyshire, McCarthy, Nonda, Samba, Brown, Berner, Gallagher, Peter.

Player to watch: Ryan Nelsen

After an exceptional return in the F A Cup, Nelsen appears to be back in business. His command of the back-line, determination and reading of the game are going to be vital if Rovers are to mount a push up the Premiership table.

This will be a tough test for him against Chelsea`s physical and rapid attack but with Warnock providing the pace Nelsen can lead his troops in a phalanx style defence that will make it incredibly hard for Chelsea to break down.

Match Facts & Stats

Click here to view the highlights of Rovers last league encounter with Chelsea.

Rovers are looking for the 200th victory of their Premiership history.

Rovers have won only one of their last six Premiership visits to Stamford Bridge. They were victorious by the odd goal in three on 22 February 2003 when Dwight Yorke and David Dunn scored their goals.

Chelsea have not lost a home Premiership game under Jose Mourinho (won 40, drawn 10), nor been defeated in the top division at the Bridge since a 1-2 reverse to Arsenal on 21 February 2004 (won 44, drawn 12). They are just eight games from beating Liverpool`s unbeaten home record of 63 games.

This could be Brett Emerton`s 100th start for Rovers.

Ref Watch:

Graeme ‘the Clown` Poll is the referee for this game. He has taken charge of two Rovers games this season; the away wind against Middlesbrough and Reading. He has issued 3 reds and 77 yellows in his 19 games this season.

Match Prediction:

Chelsea are still very much there for the taking. If Rovers play their open attacking football that they did at the Emirates against Arsenal then I feel they will have greater reward. Chelsea have been grinding out results but have still looked vulnerable at the back and with Rovers producing goals all over the park for fun at the moment then this should be a high scoring contest.

Chelsea are due a defeat at home and Rovers, who have had little in the way of luck against the Blues, will be looking to end the home sides impressive Stamford Bridge record.

However, it will be tough to go all out for the win. I see this one ending all square, perhaps 2-2.

Next Fixtures:

Sheff Utd at Ewood Park on Saturday


12 Replies to “Chelsea .v. Rovers”

  • Nice little links piece there James to highlights of the last game, I like it! Jesus not Graham Poll, why!?!?! Persoanlly I’m not sure Shevchenko’s pace will caue much problem, think he’s lost that. Still a quality player and if still here next season will do better after adjusting to the English game. Id LOVE a win and think if we have a go we could get it but with their home record its asking a lot, I’ll take a point as we’ll score goal(s), 1-1 maybe sneak a 2-1 win!

  • This will undoubtedly be a tough game but I have one of those feelings that we will emerge with something. I think a win is alot to ask for but a point will be ours. COME ON ROVERS!!!

  • Hope springs eternal! we seem to play better against the clubs around us and above us… just not teams in relegation zone! If you get a chance go and read the same preview from a Chelsea perspective! I have left a long missive for them! the Author is so arrogant he was probably supporting United three seasons ago!

  • I think you could be right, but I’m always the optimist and almost always go for a win even if I don’t really believe it, my boy Derbs might just score again!

  • lol, I’ll check this out Ex Ewood Resident. These big teams think they own the place don’t they (I don’t mean vital football, mean the Premiership).

  • Get Matty and Benni on in the 1st half as Essien is no where near a centreback and neither is that Portuguese half wit who cost 18 odd million, should be able to take advantage of that Nonda can then batter them when they are tired, plus Geremi is no full back(very good midfielder but cant defend) and he’s on the rite, Pederson/Warnock will be able to exploit this. Nelsen should be able to cope with Drogba, who is having a great season and Shevchenko has no confidence. Hopefully they play Ballack and Mikel in midfield as this is great news as we have no central midfielders and they are no problem to cope with lately. Bascially just get into them and get someone on Lampard who is the only danger in the middle at min

  • I have to disagree a little Clint, Essien, sure isn’t a central defender but what I’ve seen of him he’s filled in well for them. With that said I’d happily see him play their tonight instead of midfield! Is Carvalho the half wit you speak of? When he plays alongside JT I’ve usually thought he’s been very good and would almost certainly have him in the Rovers side alongside the Admiral. Pedersen and Warnock along with Emerton and Bents (so long as he plays down the right?) will cause problems to Geremi (certainly looks suspect defending) and Ashley Cole (who I personally don’t think it much better than Wayne Bridge if indeed he is!) Keep Lampard and Drogba quiet and well cause a surprise or two, even if that only gets us a point.

  • Essien is filling in at centreback all I was saying was that its not his favoured position so he ahould be targeted as the weak link, Carvalho is who I meant and he’s (in my opinion) average at centreback certainly no better than God and he cost £18m more! Ashley Cole isn’t better than Bridge at defending but is better going forward

  • Carvalho and JT quite simply make an excellent partnership – One playmaking centre back, and one no-nonsense grafter – Since JT’s injury, they’ve had no-one to do the leg work and cover the rest of the back line. Essien has done ok, but isn’t the no-nonsense partner that is needed – For that reason i think Derbyshire should have a go (If JT were in, then Nonda’s experience and hold up play would be essential). If Matty can run the back line and drag them deep like he did to Luton then we could get some serious joy out of this match. First league loss at the bridge for Mourinho? (I think??)

  • The rite side of the Chelsea defence is the weakest and with our players down the left it should be a focus. just have to keep the other players busy

  • As I said on vital Chelsea they’ll have to watch Derbs as he’ll run their defence all over the shop with his movement. With JT in Nonda would have played with him out I just hope Sparky keeps Derbs in as he’ll work openings and take them if they arrive. I’m so full of optimisum about this game guys think we’ll come away with a point at least, maybe three!

  • Well Gamst is in the line-up so that puts an end to his transfer speculation. Good to see Gally starting out wide. This will be a real chance for him to impress. There is so much creativity and flair in our midfield. COME ON ROVERS!!!

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