Rovers .v. Spurs
19th November 2006
Rovers are at home for the second time in succession but are desperately hoping that will be the only sequence continued. They come face to face with another of this season`s UEFA Cup success stories, Tottenham; incidentally another side who have failed to reciprocate their European form in the league.
Rovers enter the match off the back of four straight league defeats and scoring just a single goal. There are likely to be changes to Hughes` side again as injuries continue to hamper the clubs rhythm. However, the possible return of Robbie Savage could prove to be a huge boost.
Last season both clubs were the league`s surprise packages with Spurs finishing in 5th and Rovers 6th. They also contested one of the seasons best games; Spurs fortuitous 3-2 victory at White Hart Lane.
Both teams will be eager to turn around negative results last weekend. The 3-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Reading by Spurs was their first loss in 11 games.
Brad Friedel on Spurs: "It is going to be a difficult game, but hopefully we can nick the first goal, put them on the back foot, hopefully sneak a second and make it easier for ourselves.
"Last year, the 0-0 draw against them at home was one of the most boring Premier League games of the season, then the 3-2 defeat was one of the best on show."
Friedel on form: "The only game where we have really under-performed is the Aston Villa one. We`ve lacked goals in the last couple of games, but we have some tremendous strikers at the club and I think our fortunes will turn around very quickly."
Mark Hughes on losing four league games in a row: "It has been a poor run of results but not poor performances and I have been pleased with the way we have played at home.
"We are still very positive as it is early in the season and we have players who will be coming back from injury. Our form is not that bad but we do know we need to get back on track."
Tottenham boss Martin Jol: "Our home record will be okay, so it's only about away games. If you win seven away games you are in the top four or five, we can do that but we need to look at a few details.
"It's not only about our mentality, it's about physical toughness as well. If you have five big strong guys, it's not a problem. We don't buy Vinnie Jones-style players, so they must all show they can be a tough physical player, then there will be no problem."
Mido on McCarthy: "Benni is a player with a lot of character, a very good striker with a very good finish and we'll have to watch him.'
"He's a good friend of mine and I was very happy for him when I heard he'd signed for Blackburn. I spoke to him and I knew he would be able to cope and he's done fantastically well there.
"It takes a good mentality to move to the Premiership and he's adapated well, hopefully he'll score plenty more goals - but not against us!"
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Rovers are considerably boosted by the projected return of the engine room, Robbie Savage, who has made excellent progress after his thigh strain was expected to keep him out for at least a month.
However, there is a question mark over the fitness of Morten Gamst Pedersen who has injured his ribs. Although initial fears that he had broken them, leading to an extended period on the sidelines, seem wide of the mark.
Zurab Khizanishvili (suspension) and captain, Lucas Neill (hamstring strain) are both out.
Rovers from: Friedel, Brown, Emerton, Ooijer, Todd, Henchoz, Gray, McEveley, Bentley, Tugay, Mokoena, Savage, Peter, Pedersen, Nonda, McCarthy, Jeffers, Gallagher.
Player to watch: Robbie Savage
If he is fully fit to return then his influence on the field will be underlined. His energy and passion is normally the key that allows Rovers to tick over. This has been sorely missed since he picked up the injury against F C Basel.
He also adds an extra dimension through his dead-ball distribution either striking direct free-kicks at goal or whipping in set-pieces from the wing.
Tottenham Hotspurs Team News:
Tottenham have a number injury concerns to a select hand-full of first team stars. The most notable absentees will be Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon.
They are joined on the sidelines by Pascal Chimbonda, Calum Davenport, Anthony Gardner and Paul Stalteri.
Tottenham from: Robinson, Cerny, Dawson, Young-Pyo, King, Assou-Ekotto, Davids, Huddlestone, Ziegler, Murphy, Defoe, Keane, Berbatov, Zokora, Ghaly, Dervite, Malbranque, Tainio, Mido.
Player to watch: Mido
It could only be him. He was the match winner when Spurs triumphed over Rovers last time the two sides met. He was also close to becoming a Blackburn Rovers player in the summer in £3.5million deal. He eventually turned down the opportunity in the hope that Spurs would make an offer.
They did and he will lead their line on Sunday as Rovers hope that the player they missed out on doesn`t return to haunt them.
Match Facts & Stats
Benni McCARTHY is Blackburn's leading scorer with seven goals.
If Brad FRIEDEL plays, he'll be making his 250th English League appearance (Liverpool and Blackburn).
Friedel, McCarthy and David BENTLEY are the only remaining players to have started all of Blackburn's Premiership matches this season.
If he starts, Lucas NEILL will be making his 300th English League start (Millwall and Blackburn).
Dimitar BERBATOV, Robbie KEANE and Jermain DEFOE are Tottenham's joint top scorers with four goals each.
Eight different players have scored one goal each in Tottenham's Premiership campaign.
Defoe is a brace shy of 50 goals in the Premiership.
If he plays, Michael DAWSON will be playing the day after turning 23 and will be making his 50th Premiership appearance - all in a Spurs shirt.
Jermaine JENAS, Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO and goalkeeper Paul ROBINSON are the only remaining players to have been on the field for every minute of Tottenham's Premiership matches this term.
If involved, JENAS will be making his 250th club career appearance (Nottingham Forest, Newcastle and Spurs).
Phil Dowd will over-see this tie. He has issued 14 yellow cards this season and no red cards in his seven games.
Both clubs have been successful in Europe this season but have been unable to transform that into league form. Mark Hughes will be disappointed with Rovers home form already this season, losing three of the six Ewood Park fixtures, failing to score in all three of those defeats. Everyone connected with Rovers will be hoping that a bit of luck will return to their games and should it, and then Rovers will win. An aggressive and direct performance from Hughes men will ensure Tottenham fall to the same defeat in a week. Rovers to win 3-1
Feyenoord away in Rotterdam on Thursday 23rd November 2006 at 20:45