Tight Affair Anticipated
Sunday 1st October 2006
Rovers approach this game off the back of a five-match unbeaten run, including three consecutive victories.
Rovers have now begun scoring with a number of players contributing, often in emphatic style, messus David Bentley and Benni McCarthy spring to mind.
Last year's success story-Wigan, are struggling to replicate the same sort of form.
So far they have registered a solitary win, against Reading at the JJB Stadium, and have been surprisingly knocked out of the League Cup by Crewe Alexandra.
Paul Jewell, Wigan's manager, will be hoping his side can produce a solid performance to match the display of last seasons draw at Ewood.
He will certainly be hoping that Jason Roberts doesn't return to haunt his old side.
Mark Hughes on the squad: 'There have been a lot of changes, a whole new back four, a new strikeforce, but I think they have settled in quicker than I expected. They are really starting to understand how each other plays and that is really encouraging.'
Mark Hughes on Wigan: ' Wigan are a big strong powerful side. The way they play will always ask questions of you. You have to have the answers.'
David Bentley on Hughes 'He wants a hundred percent from each and every one of us, and that's what I look to give. Hopefully my ability will then come through.'
Paul Jewell on Jason Roberts: 'I've a lot of time for Jason Roberts. He did magnificently for us. He's a good player. He'll be a good signing for Blackburn.'
Dave Whelan on Rovers: 'Blackburn Rovers played a huge part in my life, and to be playing them now in the Premiership really is very special to me.'
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Jason Roberts is pushing for a return to the side as he slowly regains full fitness. However, it is likely that this game will have come too soon for him.
Another player who may not make the starting line-up is Robbie Savage. He has been in the wars of late and was taken off early against Salzburg. He will have a late fitness test.
Other than the other two long-term absentees Steven Reid (who has had to pull out of Ireland's European Qualifiers) and Ryan Nelsen, Hughes has a full squad available.
Rovers from: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Tugay, Emerton, Savage, Bentley, Nonda, McCarthy, Pedersen, Mokoena, Jeffers, Gallagher, Ooijer, Brown, Gray, Peter, McEveley, Roberts.
Player to watch: David Bentley
All concerned at Ewood will be hoping Bentley's wonder strike in midweek was a major sign that he is fulfilling his potential and is ready to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Wigan Athletic Team News:
Lee McCulloch returns to the Wigan squad having missed the last four games.
Manager Paul Jewell has no new fresh injury worries and, with the exceptions of Ryan Taylor and Steve McMillan.
Wigan from:Kirkland, Jackson, Hall, De Zeeuw, Kilbane, Camara, Heskey, Johansson, Landzaat, Boyce, Scharner, Teale, Cotterill, Cywka, Webster, Skoko, Baines, Valencia, Todorov, McCulloch, Pollitt.
Player to watch: Emile Heskey
He has struggled early on in his Wigan career but has been playing well. There's no denying he is a handful and causes defences problems. A like for like replacement for the departed Jason Roberts.
Match Facts & Stats
This fixture sees a game between the table's top half team with the worst defence and the bottom half side with the worst defence.
Rovers have an equally balanced home form; one win, one draw, one defeat with five goals scored and five conceded.
Rovers have conceded more penalties than any other side, four.
Wigan have never drawn a Premiership match 0-0 and it has been 45 games since their last 0-0 draw against QPR in April 2005.
They have only secured two points away from home since a victory at Machester City on 18 March.
If Robbie Savage starts it will be his 50th league appearance for Rovers and 450th of his career.
Lucas Neill is set to earn his 350th club career game.
Howard Webb has produced 17 yellow cards and 2 red cards in his five Premiership games so far. So we can expect a few to be brandished in this fiery Lancashire derby.
This will be a tight fixture just like it was last season. Wigan will once again arrive at Blackburn and take a point back on the 22-mile trip home to the JJB. Rovers will dominate the match for long periods as they are becoming more settled and demonstrate a greater understanding in their style of play. However, Wigan are resolute and will pick up a point.
Liverpool at Anfield on the 14th October at 15:00