VBer pre-season preview
The coming season is a pretty tough one to call. With seemingly every other team in the league splashing out on new players, it would be easy to look at Rovers and think that we will struggle to compete with even the likes of Stoke and West Ham.
However, I do not see this being the case. We finished last season in 10th, with a total of 50 points. 36 of those points were gained at Ewood, with only 14 being gained away from home.
We had a total of 13 wins, 11 draws and 14 losses. Which is not a bad record, but there's certainly room for improvement. I think we will improve slightly this year, and finish 8th. As for our cup campaigns. I think we will make the semi finals of the FA Cup, and the quarter finals of the League Cup.
I see this seasons results panning out as follows: The new boys: This season sees the return of both Newcastle and West Brom to the Premier League, and also a first ever appearcance for Blackpool. I don't see any of these teams presenting a threat to us. 3 points home and away against Blackpool, 3 points at home and 1 point away against both Newcastle and West Brom will give us a total of 11 points.
The top 4: Generally a struggling point for us. Home wins against Man United and Tottenham and a home draw against Chelsea are all I can see us taking from those 4 teams, I can't see us beating Arsenal home or away. Giving us another 7 points. The other teams who finished above us last season: Birmingham, Everton, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Man City. 4 points against Birmingham (home win & away draw), 3 points against Everton (home win), 3 points against Liverpool (home win) and 3 points against Villa (home win) will gives us a further 13 points.
Again, I see us taking nothing from the City games. Last seasons surprise packages: Stoke and Wolves. Home wins against both, along with an away draw against Wolves will give us 7 more points. The derbies: Bolton and Wigan. 6 points from Bolton and 4 from Wigan (home win, away draw) will bring us 10 more points. The rest: Fulham, Sunderland and West Ham. Home wins against all 3 and an away draw at Sunderland and Fulham will leave us with a further 8 points. This will leave us on 56 points.
Last season 56 points would've only gained us 1 place, but the points totals were unusually high last season, and in every other season since the turn of the century (except for 07/08), 56 points would have placed us at least 8th. With the additon of Diouf from United, and the possibility of Benjani joining on a free transfer, our striking options will be bolstered.
Add to this another striker, who I am sure most of us think Sam will sign before the end of the transfer window, and we will finally start to score a few goals. Last season we only scored 41 goals, averaging just over a goal per game.
I think we can realistically score 60 this season. So much hinges on whether Sam can bring in an extra striker before the close of the transfer window. With the emergence of Jones and Hanley last season, we now have more options for when Nelsen and Samba are missing through injury.
If we can add Canella to the squad, we will have adequate cover for the whole back line. 55 goals conceded last season was not too great, I think we can improve again and concede 45. Our player of the season, I think will be Chris Samba. He has been a rock at the back for us since we signed him, and I think he will have his strongest season yet with us. Our top scorer, I think will be Kalinic but this may change depending on who we bring in before the beginning of September.
Our surprise player of the season, Junior Hoilett. He has shown lots of potential in the past (good grief don't let Rover23 see this Ben!) and I believe this is the season he is set to shine. So in summary, I predict that we will finish 8th with 56 points, 60 for goals and 45 goals against. What do you guys think? If any of you say that we will finish in the bottom 3, I will have to hunt you down and kill you! =)