Blackburn Rovers put a dent into the title aspirations of Manchester United, earning a well fought out 0-0 draw, continuing their run of collecting points at Ewood Park.
3 changes were made from the fixture against Portsmouth, Vince Grella returned for David Dunn, Brett Emerton stood in for El Hadji Diouf, whilst Nikola Kalinic was preferred in attack to Jason Roberts.
Robinson, Jones, Samba, Givet, Salgado, Nzonzi, Grella, Gamst Pedersen, Emerton, Olsson, Kalinic.
In front of a cracking crowd, both teams got of to a slow start. Blackburn were more worried about compressing the defence, with Phil Jones and Chris Samba making their physical prescence. With Nzonzi and Grella in the midfield, it was never going to be a game for the purists, as the two defensive minded midfielders managed to shape the midfield to sit infront of the Manchester attack.
It really was a game of minimal chances, despite Manchester United dominating the majority of possesion, and Blackburn attempting to hit on the counter. The earliest chance actually fell to Blackburn. Nzonzi held the ball up well, laying it off to Grella. The Australian international, who actually managed to make his way to the game, get changed, warm up, then jog out onto the pitch without getting injured, put in a neat cross for Samba who headed low, but straight at Van Der Sar.
Manchester though, continued to dominate possesion, but nothing was happening in the final quarter. THe Blackburn defence held a deep line, whilst Grella and Nzonzi ensured that if Manchester were to get to the Rovers goal, then they would not be coming through the middle! Valencia and Nani try their luck from distance, but Paul Robinson has it under control
Samba came of for Nelsen in the 35th minute, a welcome return for the Admiral. The best chance of the game fell in the 42nd minute. A Berbatov pass split the defence, leaving Valencia in a one on one opportunity with Robinson. Robbo was up to the task, saving Valencia’s shot, and keeping the scores even into the break.
Half Time 0-0
Brett Emerton made way for David Dunn.
Blackburn went out with intent in the second half. Completely dominating the first 10 minutes, but just as United did, nothing really to show for it. Manchester could also create little, leaving it to Scholes, Gibson, Berbatov and Nani to all try their luck from distance.
Olsson made way for El Hadji Diouf, after another solid performance from the Young Swede.
As expected, Rovers continued to sit, whilst Manchester, really had nothing. Half the game was spent knocking the ball around in midfield, with Grella and Nzonzi having plenty of time to drink a coffee and read the newspaper before Manchester ventured into the final third. The lack of urgency was bizarre, as it was Manchester who were in a must win situation. And when they did venture forward, it was to no effect, as Phil Jones put in another superb shift. Salgado and Givet rounded up the back four, shutting down Valencia and Nani all game.
Despite a final 5 minute flurry from Manchester, Rovers almost pinched all 3 points. A deflected shot from Gamst found its way out wide. Diouf took on his man, then cut the ball to Nzonzi. Steve probably should of taken a touch, but his first touch shot was well blocked by Phil Neville.
The final whistle went, 0-0.
Credit where Credit belongs. I personally thought Jones would return to the bench in favour of the tried and trusted Samba Nelsen partnership. However Allardyce stuck to his guns, keeping Phil Jones at the heart of the defence. It comes as no surprise that Rovers are now 5 undefeated, conceding only 2 goals, with Jones in the heart of all 5 games. Well done son