Date:Thursday February 19 2009
First, look over our next 8 games in the league.
Man U (A), Hull (A), Everton (H), Fulham (A), Arsenal (A), West Ham (H), Tottenham (H), Liverpool (A).
Notice anything worrying? Over the next eight Premiership games, 6 are from the top half and 4 are in the top six. Worst of all we play United, Arsenal and Liverpool away.
Let`s examine the fixtures more closely, starting with the three fixtures against members of the so-called "Big 4". Between them, only Arsenal has lost a game at home, United and Liverpool remain undefeated at home this season.
However, a draw at Anfield is not unthinkable - Liverpool have drawn 5 at home this season already. At the Emirates, a draw could also be feasible. Arsenal have lost 2 and drawn 3 at home this season. Still, getting anything against United looks extremely unlikely. They have only dropped 2 points at home this season - to Newcastle on the opening day. And that`s not mentioning the maximum points claimed from their last 6 games, and their clean-sheets record (though I have a sneaking suspicion JR might bang one in on Saturday). Big Sam`s stats say: 1-2 points maximum, realistically: 0-1 points
Next up, two teams in form. West Ham and Everton are both teams playing very well at the moment, both picking up 11 points from their last 6 games. These stats look even better when you consider who they`ve played. Everton`s form in particular looks fearsome when you include FA Cup victories over Liverpool and Villa, and note that they`ve played Arsenal, United and Liverpool in their last 6 in the league.
West Ham too have played United and Arsenal in their last six games, although not as impressive against big opposition as Everton, they still managed a draw at the Emirates. On the plus side, both these games are at home. Although it`s hardly been fortress Ewood this season, all 3 of our victories under Allardyce have come at home (including our extra-time win over Sunderland). However, our record against the Hammers over the past few seasons is dreadful. Our last 5 league encounters have all ended in defeat.
We have had a better record against Everton in the past. However, their form of late has been stunning at times and the league stats don`t tell the full story of their games against Liverpool or Villa. What will probably tell most though, is their dominance in midfield. Against Villa we were completely outclassed across the pitch, but especially in the centre of the park. Everton are arguably even stronger than Villa in midfield and I can`t see us coming away from this game with more than a point. Summary: Luck never seems to favour us against the Hammers, so although we could get 3 points, we`ll more likely pick up none. I also seriously doubt our chances against Everton due to our weakness in midfield, so I think the Hammers game is our chance here. Big Sam`s stats say: 1-3 points
So far it`s been a very bleak outlook for our up coming games. So let`s look at the three other fixtures: Hull, Fulham and Tottenham. On paper, Hull should be our best chance of a win in the coming weeks - a win there is crucial. Hull have the second worst form in the league, and have only picked up 2 points form their last 6 games. At home, their form is slightly better, but still only boasts one win in 6. Surely Sam will be targeting this game to pick up his first win on the road.
Fulham away will be a completely different story. They have only lost once at home all season and are joint second behind United on home form (14 points from 6 games). This will be a tough game and although Fulham were made to look average at the weekend by Swansea, I think a draw is a realistic aim here.
Finally, last and least, Tottenham at home. Out of all of the fixtures of the season, Spurs is always the one I want to win the most. The stats suggest we have a chance: Spurs have lost 5 out of their last 6 away games, and, like us, have only won away from home twice. However, Spurs just shelled out around £45m on new (well… mainly old) players in the January window, so we must remember that Spurs are a different team from before January. Still, this game is another good chance of picking up 3 points and I will be disappointed if we don`t hit this game with all guns blazing. Big Sam`s stats say: 6-7 points (wins against Spurs and Hull are crucial)
So there you have it.
On paper, Blackburn can hope for 12 points maximum from the next 8 games. Form like this is actually better than our current form. As long as the teams around us keeping drawing and losing, we might expect to climb a couple of places in the league. That said, a collection of 7 points, a more realistic target, would give us bottom 5 form at best, and would leave us with a very nervous end of season run in.
It looks like Big Sam has some sleepless nights ahead
Date:Thursday February 19 2009
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