Filed: Friday, 29th January 2010
By: Preview Percy
We asked a number of highly respected football writers to give us their views on this weekend's match. The fact that we've got Preview Percy again should tell you how many responded....
Next we entertain Blackburn Rovers in a 3pm Saturday kick-off. Nice.
Rovers have had an undistinguished league season so far. They currently lie in 11th place with 27 points from their 23 games so far which leaves them 5 places and 7 points ahead of us, though we do have a game in hand. Their pre-Christmas form gave the Ewood faithful some cause for concern and they went ten games without a win between beating Bolton 2-0 at the Reebok on 22 November and their defeat of Fulham at home on 17 January. Since then they’ve gone on to beat Wigan 2-1 to ease any thoughts of relegation for the time being.
Their season has, of course, been punctuated by their excursions into the League Cup where their run came to an unceremonious end in that 6-4 defeat at Villa Park. Sam Allardyce was, of course, fuming at the perceived injustice of it all, blaming ref Martin Atkinson for failing to spot a push in the build-up to Villa’s first. Of course this is not unusual for Allardyce who clearly played truant from charm school, and, in interviews, he puts one in mind of Morrissey on tranquilisers, though I expect that Allardyce writes better lyrics.
They’re not the best of travellers it should be said. Of their seven wins thus far only one has come on the road, that being the aforementioned win at Bolton. Of their remaining ten away matches to date the have lost 8 and drawn two, the draws coming at Wigan.
The visiting ‘keeper this week is Paul Robinson whose promising early career at Leeds took a down turn when he ended up at Spurs. His form has improved a bit since moving north though on those occasions I’ve seen them on the box there have often been some of those “moments” that were sadly all too familiar to those of us who like to watch England.
In defence last time out they went with Frenchmen Gael Givet and Pascal Chimbonda, Kiwi Ryan Nelsen and Swede Martin Olsson. In midfield they went with the Australo-Franco-Norwegian combination of Emerton, Nzonzi and Pedersen with Senegalese spitter Diouf, Croatian Kalinic and Canadian Hoilett providing the strike force. Clearly the job of academy boss at Ewood is not the most time consuming these days.
One player who won’t be appearing for the opposition this week will be Bennie (or Benedict to give him his full name) McCarthy. Of course he won’t be playing for us either, having not signed on the dotted line at the time of writing. Allardyce put the delay down to a “work permit situation” – it would appear that the system automatically rejects any South African applications that don’t contain the words “bar work” so they have to be input manually. The delay is expected to be sorted out by the weekend which will be conveniently too late for his inclusion to face his old club. Of course Allardyce, being Allardyce, couldn’t resist a dig at his soon to be erstwhile employee, suggesting that McCarthy’s move was purely about the money. Yeah, right. After all who in their right mind would want to leave a pure footballing side such as Blackburn what with them having such a happy-go-lucky cheerful chappie in charge and all. Ah well there’s no accounting for taste is there Sam?
“And what of us?” I hear you ask. Well the new “Gold-en” era (sorry!) started with a draw at Pompey that could well have been a win but for a bit of profligacy in front of goal and a superb outing from their ‘keeper who, it appears, may be next on his way out from Fratton Park. Oh and an assault on Tomkins that was missed by a referee standing three yards away, looking straight at it. Tomkins appears to have recovered from the double vision that the assault occasioned and he should be fit to partner Upson in the defence.
Scott Parker faces a test on his hamstring, which will have Kovac looking over his shoulder (if he can pull himself away from the mirror for long enough. Herita Ilunga is also close to a return and, if fit, he is likely to replace Spector at left back.
The most welcome sight though will probably be Carlton Cole who will, at the very least, be on the bench, though some sources suggest that a start may be on the cards this time round. If that is the case young Nouble will take Carlton’s place on the racing car seats.
This match is likely to represent something of a clash of styles. Who can forget the long-ball assault up at Ewood last season? I don’t particularly have a problem with that as such – but then again I don’t support Blackburn. I’d have been more worried by Fat Sam’s statistical analysis of that mach which he used to prove that they were a passing side. The “analysis” came in response to newspaper reports of the match which noted the home side’s reliance on hoofing it long. That‘ll be the London-centric press moaning again eh Sam?
There are good reasons for optimism about the place at the moment. The ownership situation has finally been resolved, this being the first home match under the new ownership. The injury list is beginning to get shorter and Cole’s return will also give the place a boost. We’re unbeaten in two and, as mentioned, the visitors struggle a bit outside of Lancashire. So this time out I’ll predict a 3-1 win to us as we edge our way towards mid-table respectability.
Enjoy the game!
Last season: Won 4-1 Goals from Davenport, Samba (og) and injury time efforts from Cole and Bellamy saw us end up with a comfortable-looking scoreline that owed much to Green’s second half penalty save at 2-1
Referee: Peter Walton – did our home match against Man Utd. Didn’t upset Fergie which is all that matters really isn’t it.
Danger Man: Nikola Kalinic – has taken a while to settle but two goals in his last three games suggests that he may be coming into a spot of form.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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