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Blackburn Rovers vs. Aston Villa

Ewood Park

7th April 2007

15:00

Rovers .v. Villa

Back at Ewood but will it be back to winning ways? David Dunn certainly hopes so and his sentiments will be echoed by the many Rovers fans gracing Ewood on Saturday. However, I must admit that my mind is elsewhere and could this be the case for the squad?

Sunday 15 April looms large and after an abundance of semi-final disappointments since the 2002 League Cup success, one can`t help but feel it is our time in football`s most prestigious cup competition.

Alas, enough of the F. A. Cup dream, we will save that for next week, which if the players can do the same then I`m confident three points can be achieved.

Aston Villa travel to Ewood Park off the back of some dire form that has seen a promising early season descend into mid-table mediocrity and distant whispers of relegation. They are much changed side from the resolute winners who took all three points at Villa Park earlier in the season, then again so are Rovers.

Two defeats in a row is not the best preparation for the biggest game of Rovers` season and a third would be disastrous, something that Mark Hughes will be reminding his players about.

David Dunn is slowly regaining his form and his first ever Rovers goal came against Villa all of eight years ago, hopefully he can repeat that feat with his first for the club since his return.

Vital Quotes:

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes: 'We have got games left that we can get maximum points from so we need to go on a decent run. If we are realistic we probably need to win five we probably need to win five out of seven games to give us any kind of chance. They are difficult games but given the opposition we are up against I feel we have a chance to put a run together.'
David Dunn on fitness and form: 'I have settled in really well and I am more pleased than anything to be fit still. Everyone knew that my injury problems were the big question mark over me so to have featured in every game since I have been back here is great. I know there is more to come from my play, which hasn't been as good as I would have liked so far, but fitness feels good.'
Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg: 'We have to raise the level a bit over 90 minutes and hopefully get a good run going until the end of the season. We have some winnable games. But we need to play well for 90 minutes to win games. It is not enough to have a poor first 45 minutes and play well for the second half. We need to be more consistent."

Blackburn Rovers Team News:

Mark Hughes only has concerns over the fitness of Zurab Khizanishvili. The Georgian has been struggling for fitness all week. Two other players who missed training at the beginning of the week, Aaron Mokoena and Benni McCarthy are both expected to be fit to feature. In fact Benni will be keen to play to re-discover his scoring touch.

Rovers were dealt a blow this week with the news that Robbie Savage will definitely not feature again this season after he suffered a lapse in his rehabilitation.

Rovers from: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Khizanishvili, Warnock, Bentley, Dunn, Tugay, Mokoena, Pedersen, Derbyshire, McCarthy, Peter, Roberts, Enckelman, Nonda, Henchoz.

Player to watch: David Bentley

David Bentley`s return will give Rovers a boost and it could be his ebullience that will push Rovers onto a win. Direct, skilful, attacking football has been provided from the right by Bentley this season and was missing against United last Saturday. He is still keen to impress to win a place in the England squad, and although he has already done enough in many people`s opinions he still has work to do to convince McClaren.

Aston Villa Team News:

Martin O` Neil was dealt a blow this week when it became apparent that he will be without his talismanic front-man, John Carew. He is likely to miss the Easter programme which will mean a change of tactics for Villa. There are also slight question marks over the fitness of Ashley Young and Gary Cahill.

Villa from: Sorensen, Taylor, Bardsley, Hughes, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma, Samuel, Agbonlahor, Petrov, McCann, Barry, Davis, Osbourne, Gardner, Moore, Angel, Maloney, Young, Berger, Cahill.

Player to watch: Ashley Young

Gareth Barry is an exceptional talent but he has gone off the boil a little recently whereas Ashley Young is yet to explode into life for Villa. That is why Rovers will need to keep an eye on him and his pace. Rovers don`t have the most quick defence so this could mean a slightly deeper back line to neutralise the threat of Young and Agbonlahor.

Match Facts & Stats

This is Rovers` 500th Premiership game and their 250th at Ewood Park.

Villa are the draw specialists this season in the top-flight whereas Rovers have only ended a game level on four occasions.

It is now 18 top-flight games since Rovers last drew.

Rovers` record in the Prem to date: Won 202, drawn 129 and lost 168 of the previous 499 Premier League matches.

Ref Watch:

Martin Atkinson is the man in the middle on Saturday. He has so far produced 56 yellow cards and 3 reds in his 18 games this season. Both times he has refereed Rovers the blue and white halves have emerged victorious.

Match Prediction:

This is definitely a game that Rovers can win, given the nature of the opponents. However, a beady little eye may already be on next Sunday and this could hamper their home performance on Saturday. Should Rovers be fully focused on the fixture then a comfortable win will ensue but the likelihood is that full concentration will be lacking and for that reason there is only one result I can plump for and that isa draw!

Next Fixtures:

The big one at Old Trafford. Chelsea in the F A Cup semi-final on Sunday 15 April 2007




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The Journalist

Writer: Roversman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday April 6 2007

Time: 5:23PM

Your Comments

I do hope (as understandable as it it may be) that we are focusing on this game. The FA Cup is a MASSIVE game in our season but it is vital that we continue plugging away in the League as if all goes wrong next week if we are not on our game tomorrow and we slip up coupled with maybe (but hopefully not!) defeat in the Cup our season is all but over. A draw is a good shout, but Villa don't travel well so we shouldn't lose. A morale boosting win though for me ahead of Chelsea, maybe 3-1.
Hughes Da Man
well everton won today (don't let the scoreline fool you, we were dreadful for 25 mins and not much better after that, fulham were just abysmal) so you need to win your relativly easy home game to to keep up. Good luck (but i hope you lose : P )
EvertonMike
Watched the game Mike, not a classic by any means. Fulham had enough efforts on goal and genuine chances at that to have got at something didn't they, wasteful finishing cost them. Your out of site now I think. Not giving up, and three point tomorrow (which I think we'll get!) will help but 7th is looking our best bet this season?!?!
Hughes Da Man
you need full points tomorow and you could still catch us we have very very hard fixtures coming up, charlton and west ham from down the bottom, united and chelsea from the top, and pompey and bolton fighting for europe. 7 points isn't that much, say you win all 5 (and today) we would need 2 wins, which even that will need better performances. On the fulham game we seem to have forgotten how to defend set plays, bolton will be licking their lipsat the prospect of playing us.
EvertonMike
The famous "on paper" theory and our fixtures: Villa, Watford, Charlton & Reading at home, Tottenham, Fulham & Newcastle away don't look too bad do they. 5 wins out of 7 minumum look VERY possible. It's VITAL we focus on TODAY and not NEXT WEEKEND and beat the Villa, can't be using the Cup as our route into Europe...Just yet! Didn't realise how tough the Everton run-in is, that is tough. Totally agree Mike, from what I saw Bolton will be looking forward to their chances from the set plays. McBride is great in the air, he should have made more of his chance for Fulham.
Hughes Da Man
HDM wtf happened today, but then again mate, what a funny weekend for results, you lot, man utd and arsenal?, didnt see them scores coming.
weeman john
10 point gap so we need 2/3 wins to be sure, pompey worrying me a bit now though.
EvertonMike
I'll tell you what happened today weeman we were terrible! I REALLY hoped that we wouldn't have too much focus on the FA Cup but it appears we did. We BETTER win that match now or we almost certainly won't be witnessing European football again next season!!! Think you'll be right not worrying about us now Mike!!!
Hughes Da Man
one worry goes away, and now pompey come good lol. Dreams of 4th are surfacing though.
EvertonMike
It was an amazing win for Portsmouth wasn't it Mike, a day of the underdog with Villa beating us at home (LOL), the Hammered doing Arsenal at the Emirates and Bangladesh beating South Africa in the cricket also. Fingers crossed England can do Australia today! 4th is looking a real possbility for you lot now isn't it, but Bolton will think it could very well be there's also, certainy 5th wrapped up if they gain a victory over you on Monday.
Hughes Da Man
agreed the winner tomorow will battle arsenal for 4th, the looser will fight everyone else for 6th
EvertonMike
This fight will almost certainly not contain us!!! Our season was looking like being an amazingly successful one again just a few weeks back, defeat to Chelsea next weekend and it's fallen apart so quickly after it took so long, and so much hard work to build it up!
Hughes Da Man
 

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