Rovers take on virtual relegation certainties Watford in the first ever Premiership encounter between the two sides at Ewood Park this evening. A “must win” match (for both!) sees the two losing FA Cup Semi Finalists come head to head.
With Rovers looking to recover from the heartache of Semi Final defeat, victory is a must if we are to have any chance of overhauling our deficient and somehow snatching a European place next season. My counterpart on Vital Watford views this as an FA Cup 3rd place play-off, which in effect it is but will in all likelihood have more of a bearing on the outcome of our season than there’s, I say that with all due respect meant.
Mark Hughes on Rovers’ “bumps and bruises”:
“We had Jason Roberts scanned, he got a bang on his foot on the side of the injury that he’s had, but thankfully that came back clear although it is still a little bit sore, but we are hopeful he is going to be ok. Stephen Warnock was sore on his ankle but he expects to train today. We’ve bumps and bruises and obviously disappointment but otherwise we are ok.”
Jason Roberts on European chances:
“We are still fighting for a European place and we will go into every one of the final six games feeling we can win. One of the reasons I came to this football club was to play regularly European football, so whatever it takes I will do to try to achieve that objective.”
Mark Hughes on European chances:
“We have looked at the situation and I think we still have a real opportunity, and going into the last period of the season that gives us something to chase. We have had a good season but we want something to show for it.”
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Rovers will make late checks on several players before selecting the side, but may choose to shuffle his pack after the exertions of Sunday’s FA Cup Semi Final in which a few players picked up knocks, Jason Roberts to his foot and Stephen Warnock to his ankle, but both have trained so should feature.
Rovers from – Friedel, Emerton, Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Bentley, Dunn, Mokoena, Pedersen, Roberts, McCarthy, Enckelman, Tugay, Henchoz, Derbyshire, Peter, Khizanishvili, Gallagher, Berner, Todd, Brown, Nonda.
Player to watch: Jason Roberts
For me was a surprise selection for the Semi Final but I’m more than happy he played. In an injury-ridden season he had his best game for Rovers and showed just why I (and MANY others) think he’ll have such a huge roll to play for Rovers in the coming seasons. He should start tonight and will cause Watford a lot of problems as with all due respect they do not have a defence anywhere in the league of Chelsea and we know the problems JR caused them.
Watford Team News:
Gareth Williams has damaged his cruciate ligaments during training so is out for the rest of this, and a large slice of next season. Ben Foster will take over from Richard Lee (who spent much of last season on loan at Ewood) in goal after missing the FA Cup as he was ineligible to play against Manure. Will Hoskins and Lee Williamson were cup-tied so return to the squad also. Marlon King returned for Watford’s Semi Final and should be on the bench again, but a calf injury and a broken hand mean Darius Henderson probably won’t play.
Watford from – Foster, Lee, Loach, Chamberlain, Mariappa, Carlisle, DeMerit, Stewart, Shittu, Chambers, Doyley, Powell, Smith, Mahon, Francis, Bouazza, Bangura, Rinaldi, Cavalli, Priskin, Kabba, King, Williamson, Hoskins.
Player to watch: Hameur Bouazza
The speedy winger has looked lively for Watford this season as will be looking to run at our defence, which isn’t the most mobile so we’ll have to watch him. He’s got an eye for a goal and is Watford’s top goalscorer. At the other end we’ll have to beat the excellent Ben Foster!
Match Facts & Stats
Rovers have lost the last three Premiership games and are in danger of suffering four League defeats on the bounce for the second time this season. Beaten by Bolton (h), West Ham (a), Aston Villa (a) and Manchester United (h) between 22 October and 11 November last year.
There is likely to be a winner (well there was until I said this!) as we`ve completed 19 top-flight matches without a draw!
We’ve won seven and lost seven Premiership matches at home this season (we have to make sure we improve on this next season!) And have Won 40 and lost 40 Premiership matches under Mark Hughes in total.
Watford have only one victory from five matches in all competitions, with defeats in the other four, with only one victory in seven Premiership matches.
Watford have scored just seven goals in 16 matches on their Premiership travels this season – one in each of the last three.
They have only ever won twice away from home (tempting fate again!) in 35 trips in their Premiership history – against Liverpool on 14 August 1999, and at West Ham on 10 February 2007.
Previous League Meetings
Blackburn 8 wins, Watford 9 wins, 8 draws
Premiership – Blackburn 0 wins, Watford 1 win, 0 draws
Previous League Meetings At Ewood Park
Blackburn 4 wins, Watford 4 wins, 4 draws
Premiership – Blackburn 0 wins, Watford 0 wins, 0 draws
Mr Mike Dean
The teams have only ever met once in the Premiership and we lost 2-1 at Vicarage Road earlier in the season! We can’t be split on previous meetings with four wins apiece and four draws so something has to give tonight.
Watford have been playing well recently, and in fairness have done so for most of the season but have been made to pay for not converting chances, some sloppy defending and just a little lack of quality but they’ll be back. We come into this off the back of the awesome display against Chelsea so if we perform anything like we did on Sunday afternoon we’ll win comfortably even though he haven’t faired well against the teams we “should beat” this season. 3-1 Rovers in an entertaining and open game, I expect Friedel and Foster to be busy!
Away to Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.