Date:Friday November 10 2006
11th November 2006
In twenty years in the job, Alex Ferguson holds a lot of fond memories, none more so than the 3-1 victory at Old Trafford against Rovers to clinch the first Premiership title in 1993 that began a decade of success.
However, his recent memories of Blackburn Rovers will certainly cause a few sleepless nights. Under old favourite, Mark Hughes, Rovers beat United home and away last season with David Bentley`s majestic hat-trick at Ewood Park.
Ferguson and co. will be aiming to rectify that and make amends from their shameful display in mid week. This though will not be comforting news for the Rovers faithful. It is perhaps the worse time to play United and Mark Hughes is to aware of this.
Add that to the despondent performance last weekend, bad luck and injuries and this fixture points in one obvious direction; a mauling of Rovers.
Hughes will do his utmost to ensure this doesn`t happen and will undoubtedly tell his charges to attack United from the off. This should make for an open match, much like the corresponding fixture last season.
Mark Hughes on the Southend result and United: "After that, I know Sir Alex Ferguson will want a reaction. For us, a hard game becomes harder. Losing such a game doesn't happen very often to him. He sets high standards and expects players to live up to them. But they're as good as I've seen for a couple of seasons now, top quality.'
David Bentley on that hat-trick: "It was a great day for me and the team. I really enjoyed it but I`m not resting on that. I`m looking to go out there and perform and get another three goals- every footballer goes out with the belief that you can do it again."
Christiano Ronaldo on League aspirations: "Last year Chelsea played very well and were the most consistent team. But we're now doing the same thing. If we lose or even draw it's a bad result.
"We don't want to lose any game at the moment as they are all so important, and in the league we always feel that we need to win every game we play."
Brett Emerton is pushing for a recall after nearing full fitness. He has missed Rovers last two league defeats. He has only just returned to training but there is an outside chance he could return to the starting eleven.
Other than Ryan Nelsen, Steven Reid, Jason Roberts and Robbie Savage, Hughes has a full squad to choose from.
Rovers from: Friedel, Brown, Neill, Emerton, Khizanishvili, Ooijer, Todd, Henchoz, Gray, McEveley, Bentley, Tugay, Mokoena, Peter, Pedersen, Nonda, McCarthy, Jeffers, Gallagher.
Certainly all United eyes will be scrutinizing Bentley after his magnanimous display in this fixture last season.
He has undoubtedly been the form player for Rovers this season and shares the mantle of most improved with flying Aussie, Brett Emerton.
His flair and creativity from the right flank will be very important for Rovers to generate the chances needed to overcome Fergie`s free scoring United machine.
Alex Ferguson has the luxury of a fully fit squad, excluding the absence of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A number of key players featured and disappeared in mid week and they will be looking to re assert themselves back in the Premiership.
Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo continue to look menacing, if not fully fit at the same time.
One possible absentee is Alan Smith after it was reported united had accepted a loan bid from Cardiff City for the versatile and volatile individual.
United from: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Neville, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Silvestre, Heinze, Evra, O'Shea, Fletcher, Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Jones, Giggs, Richardson, Rooney, Saha, Smith.
Whenever Scholes has needed a goal in his career he needn`t look further than in a fixture against Rovers. He has an outstanding ability to score against Rovers. This coupled with his return to form and it is easy to see why he will be the dangerman.
This will be the 100th time the two clubs have faced each other in competitive football.
United have won four, lost four and drawn four of their 12 Premiership visits to Ewood Park, but they have not taken all three points in eight years, since Andrew Cole, Paul Scholes and David Beckham scored in a 1-3 triumph on 6 April 1998.
Rovers have scored more than a single goal in only two Premiership games this season.
Rovers last lost more than three consecutive Premiership matches between 28 September and 2 November 2003, when just one goal was scored in five successive losses.
Saha scored three times in the four times the Red Devils met Blackburn last season.
This will be the first time that a Rovers match will be refereed by Mike Riley. So far he has issued 28 yellow cards and three red cards in seven games.
This will be an open affair with goals a plenty like last season. United will start strongly but it is important that Rovers don`t concede early as this will give them a chance of getting into the game. The game will be won and lost in the midfield. Rovers will definitely miss the influence of Robbie Savage, but Hughes will be hoping that Aaron Mokoena will be able to get amongst the United players and not allow them time on the ball. United`s striking options far exceed Rovers` so it will be imperative for the likes of Shabani Nonda and Benni McCarthy to take their chances. Rovers to return to winning ways and put an end to their winless streak; 3-2
Tottenham Hotspurs at Ewood Park on Sunday 19th November at 16:00
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Date:Friday November 10 2006
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