Games between Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur in recent years have been exciting and controversial. I feel this one will be no different.
A trip to London, not a happy visiting area for Rovers this season, on Thursday will see Mark Hughes` men battle it out for three more points to keep their UEFA Cup qualification hopes alive. These chances are slim, that much is true but, due to the incredible recent form, these hopes stay alive.
Tottenham have ambitions of their own but are almost certain to qualify for Europe. Does this mean they will be taking their foot off the gas? Unlikely.
An interesting sub-text to the game is the clash of the Premiership`s two star buys this season, Benni McCarthy and Dimitar Berbatov. Both have 22 goals to their name for the season and both are being muted with transfers to Man United and Chelsea. Who will win? Well I feel this holds the outcome of the result.
Blackburn manager Mark Hughes: ‘We will take either the Uefa Cup or the Intertoto Cup. We are still dependent on the results going for us but we can only try and win our games. We have put in a lot of work this year and hope to achieve something at the end of it.‘
Tottenham Hotspurs Team News:
Riccardo Rocha is the only major concern for Martin Jol. He picked up a knock in the win over Charlton and is struggling to be fit. He is likely to be replaced by Anthony Gardner.
Tottenham (from): Robinson, Cerny, Alnwick, Chimbonda, Assou-Ekotto, Rocha, Dawson, King, Gardner, Ifil, Zokora, Tainio, Jenas, Murphy, Ghaly, Malbranque, Huddlestone, Lennon, Taarabt, C Lee, Barnard, Berbatov, Defoe, Keane.
Player to watch: Dimitar Berbatov
He has been brilliant following a slow start to his career in England. A few injuries blighted his progress early on but he has returned in glistening form scoring a variety of goals, all executed with immaculate skill. His movement is exceptional, and for a big man he has a bit of pace, Talal El Karkouri will testify that. He will be the danger and if the mighty God and Samba can keep him quiet then there is every chance of a shut out.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Mark Hughes is likely to start with the same team that beat Newcastle so comfortably as David Dunn is only rated 50/50 and Zurab Khizanishvili isn`t likely to feature again this season.
Blackburn (from): Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Bentley, Mokoena, Dunn, Pedersen, McCarthy, Roberts, Nonda, Tugay, Derbyshire, Brown, Henchoz, Gallagher, Todd, Peter.
Player to watch: Benni McCarthy
Well Dimitar is the focus for Spurs so Benni has to be the alternative for Rovers. He has surpassed all initial expectations with his scoring and a few more between now and the end of the campaign could see Rovers end a memorable season on a high. Whereas Berbatov poses a greater threat with his pace, McCarthy`s intelligence is what makes him stand out. Excellent link-up play with players he has formed close bonds with is evident each week.
Match Facts & Stats
Goals are expected on Thursday as it has been 26 games since Spurs last drew 0-0 and 32 since Rovers ended up with that score.
Rovers have scored in their last eleven consecutive games.
Both clubs go into the game on the back of consecutive wins and unbeaten in four.
Rob Styles is the man in the middle.
Most fixtures between the two clubs have ended in draws. This will be different. Last time Rovers won at the Lane it was inspired by a Yorke and Cole salvo which catapulted the club into Europe. Are there similarities here? Yes. Benni and Jason Roberts are being compared to Yorke and Cole and both are on form, plus a win would put Rovers in strong contention for a UEFA spot.
Alas, this result won`t be the same, but the outcome will be. A Rovers 2-1 win inspired by the new Yorke and Cole.
Last game of the season on Sunday against Reading.