What lies ahead…December
Another hectic month sees Blackburn Rovers with eight matches ahead of them! At least five are at home, which will be a huge bonus.
PREM Sat 2nd 15:00 - Fulham (h)
Fulham currently lie in 10th place in the Premiership with 20 points from their fifteen matches played, seven more than Rovers.
By my reckoning only Fulham's Ian Pearce has ties with the opponents. Obviously he was a part of our Premiership winning side of 1994-1995. A red card last weekend would have ruled him out but for Fulham's midweek game.
Last season, on the 20th August 2005, in front of an Ewood Park crowd of 16,953 Rovers sent Fulham home with nothing. Morten Gamst Pedersen and Tugay scoring in a 2-1 win.
Fulham have a good home record and come into this game off the back of a home win over Arsenal. Their poor away form from last season has also picked up with them only beaten twice so far so this won't be the "pushover" we might have expected last season. This is a winnable game so we have to think that way so I'm going for a Rovers win.
PREM Tue 5th 20:00 - Charlton (a)
Charlton Athletic currently lie bottom of the Premiership with 9 points from their fourteen matches played, but only four fewer than Rovers!
It is highly unlikely that he will play but if he does Andy Todd will be returning to one of the clubs that "booted" him out for a training ground incident, fonder memories of his time there saw him win the old First Division. Francis Jeffers will also be retuning to the Valley following his release in the summer. If he features Marcus Bent will come up against Rovers, a team he endured a "difficult" time with following a big money move.
Last season, on the 29th April 2006, in front of a Valley crowd of 26,254 Rovers returned home with all three points thanks to a 2-0 win with goals from Steven Reid and an own goal from Chris Powell.
Charlton were not one of my tips for relegation before the season kick-off but they are now. Despite being under new leadership in Les Reed and early signs are a fight back is possible we need to win this game so again I'll go for a Rovers win.
PREM Sat 9th 15:00 - Newcastle (h)
Newcastle currently lie in 17th place in the Premiership with 13 points from their fourteen matches played, the same as Rovers but just below us.
Lucas Neill is a Newcastle target but they won`t get him, again as far as I can make out that is as far as our links with Newcastle go from our end, obviously things were different last term! Shay Given of course will be lining up against Rovers when he takes his place in the Newcastle goal.
Last season, on the 18th September 2005, in front of an Ewood Park crowd of 20,725 Newcastle left with all three point despite having Steven Taylor sent off! They were already 2-0 up thanks to two quick goals from Alan Shearer and Michael Owen; Charles N'Zogbia completed the 3-0 win with a late goal.
Newcastle look to be finding some form at last and are looking like reproducing their UEFA Cup form in the league so this will be a tough game. Although this is a home game and home games are games we need to look to win I think it will end in a draw.
UEFA Wed 13th 19:45 - Nancy (h)
Nancy of France are going to prove tough opponents for Rovers in our final UEFA Cup group E match.
The French side qualified for the tournament via winning the French Cup last season so they have quality. They may not have much of a European history but with Michel Platini and Tony Cascarino a part of this history they have pedigree so they will be very tough and won't be easy at all.
Had this game been in France I think we would have found things far, far more difficult than we will. A point will almost certainly win the group and ensure we miss out on the Champions League drop outs a win guarantees this so I'm going for that win and an "easier" (if that's possible) last 32 tie.
PREM Sat 16th 15:00 - Reading (a)
Reading currently lie in 8th place in the Premiership with 22 points from their fourteen matches played, nine more than Rovers.
By my reckoning there are no links between the current Reading and Rovers squads.
The last time we faced Reading in the league, in one of only seven meetings (losing only once!) came on 28th November 1987. I don't know the attendance that day but we came home with a point after a 0-0 draw.
Reading were a lot of people's tip for relegation, but not mine and this is currently being proved right. When the fixtures were released many would have been rubbing their hands together. Reading's home form over the past year and a half has been superb, with this carrying on in the Premiership as Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have found out, only Chelsea from the three have come away with all three points, and only just. I think we will do well to get a point and I'll settle for this.
PREM Sat 23rd 15:00 - Arsenal (a)
Arsenal currently lie in 6th place in the Premiership with 22 points from their fourteen matches played, nine more than Rovers.
David Bentley will come up against the team who nurtured his early talent and unsurprisingly they didn't want to lose him, they did and we got him! Francis Jeffers will also come up against his former side (and a team that once paid £8 million for him) if he features.
Last season, on the 26th November 2005, in front of a Highbury crowd of 38,192 Rovers returned home with nothing. Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie condemned us to a 3-0 defeat.
At the point of writing this despite finding it a struggle at times Arsenal were still unbeaten at their new Emirates Stadium in the Premiership. Arsenal are a tough proposition any time but with their current troubles this could prove even harder. A point away to Arsenal is always a good result so I'd settle for this, unfortunately I fear we will lose.
PREM Tue 26th 15:00 - Liverpool (h)
Liverpool currently lie in 7th place in the Premiership with 22 points from their fifteen matches played, nine more than Rovers.
Rovers have several former Liverpool stars in our current squad including Brad Friedel, Dominic Matteo and Stephane Henchoz, however Friedel is almost certainly the only former Red likely to play. Lucas Neill is likely to feature against his next club, with a move likely to take place a couple of weeks after this meeting. The struggling Craig Bellamy will face his former side if he lines up for Liverpool. In the reverse fixture earlier this season as we know he denied us a win, equalising Benni's early goal.
Last season, on the 16th April 2006, in front of an Ewood Park crowd of 29,142 Liverpool made the short journey home with three points thanks to a 1-0 win after Robbie Fowler's controversial winner. How was Djibril Cisse NOT offside…
We did what few teams have been able to do to Liverpool at Anfield in October when we prevented them winning as we drew 1-1. Liverpool's away from has been poor thus far this season with them having scored only one goal, conceding twelve and losing 5 out of 7 matches (at the time of writing this) so a Rovers win would not surprise me in the slighted but I'll go for a draw.
PREM Sat 30th 15:00 - Middlesbrough (h)
Middlesbrough currently lie in 14th place in the Premiership with 16 points from their ten matches played, three more than Rovers.
Andy Todd started his professional career with Middlesbrough under his father Colin but he is unlikely to be given the chance to feature against his old side. If he plays, as is likely Brett Emerton will again face the team he could have joined in the summer.
Last season, on the 18th March 2006, in front of an Ewood Park crowd of 18,681 Rovers won 3-2 despite having Robbie Savage sent off, we were 2-1 up at the time before Boro levelled again at 2-2. Craig Bellamy added to his earlier and Morten Gamst Pedersen's effort to see our ten men win 3-2.
A genuine Jekyll and Hyde side of the league, we earned out first away win of the season (and only at the point of writing this) at the Riverside thanks to Shabani Nonda's goal in our 1-0 win so we'll be looking for the same here. The double will be completed here with a comfortable Rovers win, depending on what Boro team turns up!
How do you think the month will pan out? Why not have your say by posting a comment below…
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