Not Safe Yet, But Ewood Games Should Keep Us Safe
Rovers aren`t safe yet, but games at Ewood should put us home and dry.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article entitled The Stats That Keep Big Sam Awake At Night suggesting that we faced a tough time over the next eight games. With the exception of the Liverpool game on Saturday, those games have all been played. Consequently, I thought I`d take a look over how we`ve done during those games, before looking ahead to our end of the season run in. Here are our last 7 results:
Manchester United 2 - 1 Blackburn
Hull City 1 - 2 Blackburn
Blackburn 0 - 0 Everton
Fulham 1 - 2 Blackburn
Arsenal 4 - 0 Blackburn
Blackburn 1 - 1 West Ham
Blackburn 2 - 1 Tottenham
Liverpool v Blackburn
If we lose at Anfield on Saturday - which seems likely given Liverpool`s frightening form of late - then we will have taken 11 points out of a possible 24. This represents a good haul. When I made my predictions about six weeks ago, Rovers were in dire straights despite improved form under Allardyce. I predicted 7 points as a realistic target, and 12 points as the best we could hope for. Well, with that logic 11 represents a job well done. As I suggested the league table now looks a little less ominous, with Ooijer`s late strike against Spurs has taking us up to 14th and, crucially, 5 points above Newcastle in 17th. We`ve put ourselves in a good position for the run in, but who have we got left to play? Here our last 6 games (after Liverpool):
Stoke (A), Wigan (H), Man City (A), Portsmouth (H), Chelsea (A), West Brom (H).
From this list I have identified the three home games against Wigan, Portsmouth and West Brom as ones we really should (must?) collect full points from.
Wigan`s season seems to have slowed down a bit recently, however, they will still probably be the toughest test of the three and we will have to stay sharp to take maximum points. Portsmouth have drawn 4 out of their last 6 away games but have only won away twice all season. They are in a similar position in the league to us at the moment and I think we can really use our momentum against them. The game against West Brom is another one that we really should win. However, there is a real possibility that they will already be relegated before this game and playing for pride, so we might have to be on our toes for a freak result. Hopefully, we will already be safe by then so it won`t matter too much, but I don`t see any result other than a home win here. Predicted haul: 9 points (come on Rovers!)
The away games are a much more challenging affair. First up are two teams who have relied on their home form to stay in contention this year. Both Stoke and Manchester City have stunning home form despite sporting woeful records on the road.
Man City have won their last six home games on the trot and have looked formidable at home all season. Our only chance of getting revenge on City (for their mugging of 2 points off us earlier this season) is to hope they are distracted by efforts in Europe. Stoke too have only lost 3 at home all season and have taken points off Arsenal and Liverpool at the Britannia. Any points from these two games would be a real bonus. Chelsea away is always going to be a tough game. We haven`t taken any points off the Big 4 this season and I can`t see us changing that trend at Stamford Bridge. Therefore, optimistically we might hope to snatch a draw against Stoke (sure to be one of the worst to watch games of the season) or City, but I`m not too hopefully for these fixtures. Predicted haul: 0 points (1-2 if we get some luck)
So there you have it. I`m predicting 9 points from our remaining games. It`s not a huge amount, but I think it will be enough. Even if we only win 2 of our remaining games, Newcastle will need to win 4 out of their last 7 in order to catch us up. Given the fact that they face Stoke, Tottenham, Liverpool and Villa away, I think this will be a very big ask for Shearer and the Toon Army, and that`s assuming that they win all three of their final home games (against Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Fulham).
So there you have it, let`s make sure everyone gets down to Ewood and makes sure we win those 9 points. After that we can start worrying about Carlos and Matty.
DON`T LET THEM GO SAM!