Manchester City will make the short trip up the A666 to Ewood Park on Sunday looking to exact revenge for last season`s closing day defeat. This is just one of five Premiership fixtures on Sunday.
Neither team have started the season well, Rovers have just two points and City have four. Additionally, both sides have only one Premiership goal to their names each so far. Past fixtures suggest this will be a game of few chances after a total of just four goals in the past four meetings between the sides.
Man City have a tight defence but regularly come undone from wicked in-swinging crosses, something both Morten Gamst Pedersen and Robbie Savage are experts at, evidenced in mid-week. They will be looking to cause havoc inside the City penalty box with the likes of Benni McCarthy sniffing around after he netted his second goal of the season in mid-week. Indeed it could be set-pieces that decide the outcome of this fixture.
Robbie Savage on his ambitions for the season: “If I can chip in with a few more goals this season it will be great.“
Mark Hughes on Paul Dickov: “We’ll welcome him back, but hopefully we’ll send him on his way with not too much too show. Paul was excellent for us during his time here, certainly in his first season when we were struggling.”
Benni McCarthy on his form, Rovers and the season: “I`ve got two goals, and it`s nothing to complain about, but with my standards I would love to have had maybe four. I`m starting to feel my way, communicating with and understanding my team-mates, which is what I`m hoping for and what I want. There`s certainly more to come from me.
“I just hope I can help them have a fantastic season as they did last season. We want to try and reach the Champions League, and that would be brilliant for the club, for the players and fans.“
Stuart Pearce on Rovers and his team: “I don’t think there’s a good or a bad time to play Blackburn. They got a good result in Europe on Thursday which will give them and their club a lift.
“We feel as though we’re doing not too much wrong at the moment“
Paul Dickov on the game and Rovers: “I’ll be looking to go there on Sunday and get a result. I think that Mark Hughes has got a team of good lads, a team of honest lads, and a team of players who all want to work hard for one another.“
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Steven Reid is once again unavailable after a scan on his back, as is Jason Roberts who continues to struggle with a groin complaint. Neither featured in Thursday`s impressive performance in Austria against Salzburg and they haven`t been included in the squad for Sunday`s game.
One player who is available is Francis Jeffers. He has had his red-card in the reserve fixture against Manchester United rescinded and will battle it out with Shabani Nonda and Paul Gallagher for a place alongside Benni McCarthy.
Once again there is no place for long-term absentee Ryan Nelsen and Stephane Henchoz is still working his way up to full fitness.
Rovers from: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Ooijer, Emerton, Todd, Tugay, Savage, Bentley, Nonda, McCarthy, Pedersen, Mokoena, Jeffers, Gallagher, Brown, Gray, Peter, McEveley.
Player to watch: Morten Gamst Pedersen
Gamst put in an improved display against Salzburg on Thursday, regularly getting involved in the build up play and almost seizing on a number of defensive errors on more than one occasion. Man City have had trouble defending set-plays so far this season so Rovers fans will be hoping Gamst`s wand of a left foot will produce some magic. It was used to great affect in mid-week as he helped create McCarthy`s goal and he`ll look to do more of the same on Sunday.
Manchester City Team News:
Manchester City travel to Ewood Park without the suspended Ousmane Dabo, who`s red-card against Reading has been upheld after an appeal by the club. It is likely that Dabo will be replaced by Dietmar Hamann. He will be making his belated debut following his disputed transfer from Bolton Wanderers, where he enjoyed a brief couple of hours. He has been out since pre-season with a foot injury.
Another City new boy who could be in contention for a debut is American DeMarcus Beasley. He has joined them on a season long loan deal from Dutch giants P.S.V. Eindhoven. Andre Ooijer will know plenty about his abilities from the wing so Mark Hughes should be well informed should he make an appearance.
City are further hampered by the prolonged absence of summer acquisition Andreas Isaksson. This will mean Nicky Weaver will continue between the sticks. Isaksson joins Darius Vassel, Sun Jihai and Nedum Onuoha on the injury list.
Bernardo Corradi, Georgios Samaras and ex-Rover Paul Dickov will vie for the two starting births in attack.
Man City from: Weaver, Hart, Distin, Richards, Jordan, Dunne, M Mills, Trabelsi, Barton, Dabo, Hamann, Ireland, Reyna, Miller, Beasley, Sinclair, Samaras, Corradi, Dickov.
Player to watch: Paul Dickov
Who else would it be? Mark Hughes and his defence will know all about Dickov and what he can do. Despite now being thirty-three years old he continues to pester defences up and down the country and his ebullience and zeal for his new club should ensure Rovers` defenders are in for a busy afternoon.
During his time with Rovers, Dickov clocked up over fifty appearances contributing fourteen goals. He is one of the few players in the modern game that has a penchant for scoring against former employers.
Match Facts & Stats
This will be the one hundred and first league meeting between the two teams.
Mark Hughes will be looking to celebrate two years as Rovers manager with a victory over City.
A win for Rovers today will see them reach seven hundred Premiership points. They will be the eighth team to do so as they currently sit in eighth position in the all time rankings table.
Manchester City have failed to score in this fixture at the last three attempts.
This will be Stuart Pearce`s fiftieth game as official manager of Manchester City.
City have lost ten of their last eleven away games.
They have created a new Premiership record for going the longest without finishing a game in a scoring draw. Thirty-seven matches have now passed since they drew with Manchester United one a piece on 10 September 2005.
They have gone fourteen games since scoring more than a single goal in a game, another Premiership record.
History has forty-two Blackburn wins, thirty-four City wins and twenty-four draws.
Sunday`s referee is Martin Atkinson form Yorkshire. In his opening two games he has issued just four yellow cards.
Traditionally these are tight affairs between two physical teams that mirror their manager`s approach to the game. However, this fixture will produce goals.
It doesn`t appear Rovers will be winning any awards this season for the best defence and I feel they will be breached again on Sunday. However, despite not winning in Europe in mid-week, the fact that Rovers ended their barren spell in front of goal will prove the deciding factor here.
McCarthy claimed his second goal of the season in mid-week, much to the delight of his manager, and with Roberts still out Rovers have two strikers in waiting hungry to prove themselves. Jeffers partnered McCarthy last time out in the league but I feel Shabani Nonda will be given his chance to show English football what he is capable of.
The obvious danger men for City are Joey Barton, their inspirational captain, and the returning Paul Dickov. However, set pieces will be their undoing again especially as Rovers seem to excel in that department at the moment.
Rovers will edge ahead in a thrilling three-one result.
Middlesboro at the Riverside on 23rd September, three o’ clock kick off.
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