Revenge is on the menu for Everton after Rovers left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Toffees last time the two clubs met.
F. A. Cup weekend saw Rovers demolish David Moyes` men 4-1 at Goodison Park and they will want to eradicate that memory and dispel the notions of Rafa Bentitez, who bluntly claimed that Everton are a small club following the goalless draw at Anfield last weekend.
Rovers certainly approach this fixture with the physiological edge but have been dealt a stroke of bad luck, as the left-hand side of the team has been paralysed through bad luck. Morten Gamst Pedersen and Stephen Warnock are both absent but this could mean a chance for the impressive young German Sergio Peter.
The fireworks and free-flowing football on display during the cup clash will be put to one side in a fixture that will bare little resemblance to the emphatic Rovers win. Expect all the ingredients of a typical North-west derby to simmer to the surface on a murky Saturday afternoon.
Mark Hughes on Rovers` week ahead: “We are in decent shape for the games that we have ahead of us. We’ve got a really important week this week – Everton at the weekend, Europe in midweek and then the FA Cup tie the following Saturday. So in the space of a week, we are playing in three different competitions and we hope to come out of the next seven days in decent shape.“
Everton midfielder Phil Neville: “Our draw at Liverpool last week means nothing if we do not follow it up with a win against Blackburn. We have to set ourselves targets and we want to win every home game from now until the end of the season.
“We have to get ourselves right back in the hunt for a top-six finish. This club needs to keep progressing, and a Uefa Cup spot is the next stage.“
Ryan Nelsen on Everton: “Knowing David Moyes’ team, I presume our 4-1 win over them this season will still be in the back of their minds. I think the players’ pride got hurt a bit, so it will be very difficult for us.
“And we’re without Morten Gamst Pedersen who can pull off what the average person can’t do. You can’t put a price on match-winning things like that but we’re ready for the challenge.“
Everton Team News:
Leon Osman is suspended for the Toffees but failing his absence, Moyes has a full squad to choose from. He is likely to stick with the same eleven that started against Liverpool, which would mean Manuel Fernandes will have to be content with a place on the bench.
Everton from: Howard, Hibbert, Lescott, Stubbs, Yobo, Naysmith, Arteta, Carsley, Cahill, Fernandes, Neville, Beattie, Johnson, Vaughan, Anichebe, Wright, Van der Meyde.
Player to watch: Lee Carsley
Everton have a number of danger men but a lot hinges on the displays of former Rover Lee Carsley in the middle of the park. He is the type of player who breaks up play allowing more freedom to the more creative members of the team, in Everton`s case Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill.
He will be deployed to eradicate the threat of messes Tugay, David Bentley and potentially David Dunn. He is also capable of scoring from set-pieces, something the Rovers contingent will remember from his goals when the blue and white halves were down in Division One.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Rovers are severely depleted down the left hand side of the team. Stephen Warnock misses out on what would have been a steamy reception for the former Liverpool full back as he is suspended. Fellow January recruit Bruno Berner is in line to replace Warnock, thus making his Rovers debut.
More importantly Rovers are missing Moretn Gamst Pedersen, who has a hamstring strain that he picked up whilst on International duty. He is a massive loss because he has been in red-hot form of late. There are a number of options to replace Gamst. The likely one is Paul Gallagher but he could be challenged hard by David Dunn, depending on his fitness. Finally there may be an outside chance Sergio Peter will get a deserved start.
Stephane Henchoz is also in contention to return, although Chris Samba did impress last time out.
Rovers from: Friedel, Henchoz, Khizanishvili, Emerton, Samba, Todd, Dunn, Bentley, Mokoena, Tugay, Nelsen, Roberts, McCarthy, Nonda, Brown, Berner, Gallagher, Peter.
Player to watch: The left-wing
Many will be casting a curious eye towards debutant Bruno Berner to see how he fares in the Premiership. However, the important position for Rovers is the one directly in front of Berner.
Whoever plays on the left will have to produce something special to replace Gamst and due to that pressure I don`t think Dunn will start. However, one player who has that kind of potential to do something special is Sergio Peter. He would be my vote for the left wing and so therefore he will be the lad to keep an eye on.
Match Facts & Stats
Rovers beat Everton 4-1 at Goodison the last time the two teams met, click on the links below to view the goals in order.
Click here to see Derbyshire`s opener
Click here to see Gamst`s goal
Click here to see Gallagher`s superb effort to make it 3-0
Click here to see Benni make it 4-0
Everton approach this game in good form having only lost once in their last seen games, keeping five clean sheets in the process, which makes the Rovers cup win even more of an anomaly.
Everton have only conceded seven first half league goals this season, yet they shipped three in the opening half against Rovers.
This will be Rovers fifth away game in the last six outings, and they have two more away trips to follow.
Saturday will see Andy Johnson turn 26.
Rob Styles will take charge of his third Rovers game and his twentieth of the season. He has produced three red cards and 63 yellow so far.
Everton will be going great guns to exact revenge for their humiliation at the hands of Rovers in the F A Cup and this could affect the game in one of two ways.
Either Everton will put in a passionate and determined display that will mean Rovers will have to be on top of their game to take anything or Everton will be too determined and will found themselves wanting on a number of occasions.
David Moyes runs a tight ship and won`t want a repeat of the 4-1 mauling so will ensure everything is in place to avoid that and mount a winning charge of their own. However, I believe the Everton players will be too caught up on retribution and with that in mind Rovers will take something from this game.
The full three points is a big ask and therefore a draw seems the likely outcome. A sneaky bet on the same scoreline that both sides battled for at Ewood Park way back in August seems like a winner. 1-1
Mark Lawrenson predicts a 2-0 Everton win as does Skysports. What do you think the outcome will be?
The UEFA Cup is back. Rovers travel to Germany to face Leverkusen on Valentines Day.