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Blackburn Rovers vs. Watford

Ewood Park

Wednesday 18th April 2007

20:00

Rovers .vs. Watford

Rovers take on virtual relegation certainties Watford in the first ever Premiership encounter between the two sides at Ewood Park this evening. A "must win" match (for both!) sees the two losing FA Cup Semi Finalists come head to head.

With Rovers looking to recover from the heartache of Semi Final defeat, victory is a must if we are to have any chance of overhauling our deficient and somehow snatching a European place next season. My counterpart on Vital Watford views this as an FA Cup 3rd place play-off, which in effect it is but will in all likelihood have more of a bearing on the outcome of our season than there's, I say that with all due respect meant.

Vital Quotes:

Mark Hughes on Rovers' "bumps and bruises":
"We had Jason Roberts scanned, he got a bang on his foot on the side of the injury that he's had, but thankfully that came back clear although it is still a little bit sore, but we are hopeful he is going to be ok. Stephen Warnock was sore on his ankle but he expects to train today. We've bumps and bruises and obviously disappointment but otherwise we are ok."

Jason Roberts on European chances:
"We are still fighting for a European place and we will go into every one of the final six games feeling we can win. One of the reasons I came to this football club was to play regularly European football, so whatever it takes I will do to try to achieve that objective."

Mark Hughes on European chances:
"We have looked at the situation and I think we still have a real opportunity, and going into the last period of the season that gives us something to chase. We have had a good season but we want something to show for it."

Blackburn Rovers Team News:

Rovers will make late checks on several players before selecting the side, but may choose to shuffle his pack after the exertions of Sunday's FA Cup Semi Final in which a few players picked up knocks, Jason Roberts to his foot and Stephen Warnock to his ankle, but both have trained so should feature.

Rovers from - Friedel, Emerton, Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Bentley, Dunn, Mokoena, Pedersen, Roberts, McCarthy, Enckelman, Tugay, Henchoz, Derbyshire, Peter, Khizanishvili, Gallagher, Berner, Todd, Brown, Nonda.

Player to watch: Jason Roberts

For me was a surprise selection for the Semi Final but I'm more than happy he played. In an injury-ridden season he had his best game for Rovers and showed just why I (and MANY others) think he'll have such a huge roll to play for Rovers in the coming seasons. He should start tonight and will cause Watford a lot of problems as with all due respect they do not have a defence anywhere in the league of Chelsea and we know the problems JR caused them.

Watford Team News:

Gareth Williams has damaged his cruciate ligaments during training so is out for the rest of this, and a large slice of next season. Ben Foster will take over from Richard Lee (who spent much of last season on loan at Ewood) in goal after missing the FA Cup as he was ineligible to play against Manure. Will Hoskins and Lee Williamson were cup-tied so return to the squad also. Marlon King returned for Watford's Semi Final and should be on the bench again, but a calf injury and a broken hand mean Darius Henderson probably won't play.

Watford from - Foster, Lee, Loach, Chamberlain, Mariappa, Carlisle, DeMerit, Stewart, Shittu, Chambers, Doyley, Powell, Smith, Mahon, Francis, Bouazza, Bangura, Rinaldi, Cavalli, Priskin, Kabba, King, Williamson, Hoskins.

Player to watch: Hameur Bouazza

The speedy winger has looked lively for Watford this season as will be looking to run at our defence, which isn't the most mobile so we'll have to watch him. He's got an eye for a goal and is Watford's top goalscorer. At the other end we'll have to beat the excellent Ben Foster!

Match Facts & Stats

Rovers have lost the last three Premiership games and are in danger of suffering four League defeats on the bounce for the second time this season. Beaten by Bolton (h), West Ham (a), Aston Villa (a) and Manchester United (h) between 22 October and 11 November last year.

There is likely to be a winner (well there was until I said this!) as we`ve completed 19 top-flight matches without a draw!

We've won seven and lost seven Premiership matches at home this season (we have to make sure we improve on this next season!) And have Won 40 and lost 40 Premiership matches under Mark Hughes in total.

Watford have only one victory from five matches in all competitions, with defeats in the other four, with only one victory in seven Premiership matches.

Watford have scored just seven goals in 16 matches on their Premiership travels this season - one in each of the last three.

They have only ever won twice away from home (tempting fate again!) in 35 trips in their Premiership history - against Liverpool on 14 August 1999, and at West Ham on 10 February 2007.

Previous League Meetings
Blackburn 8 wins, Watford 9 wins, 8 draws
Premiership - Blackburn 0 wins, Watford 1 win, 0 draws

Previous League Meetings At Ewood Park
Blackburn 4 wins, Watford 4 wins, 4 draws
Premiership - Blackburn 0 wins, Watford 0 wins, 0 draws

Ref Watch:

Mr Mike Dean

Match Prediction:

The teams have only ever met once in the Premiership and we lost 2-1 at Vicarage Road earlier in the season! We can't be split on previous meetings with four wins apiece and four draws so something has to give tonight. Watford have been playing well recently, and in fairness have done so for most of the season but have been made to pay for not converting chances, some sloppy defending and just a little lack of quality but they'll be back. We come into this off the back of the awesome display against Chelsea so if we perform anything like we did on Sunday afternoon we'll win comfortably even though he haven't faired well against the teams we "should beat" this season. 3-1 Rovers in an entertaining and open game, I expect Friedel and Foster to be busy!

Next Fixture

Away to Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.




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The Journalist

Writer: Walker Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday April 18 2007

Time: 4:36PM

Your Comments

We HAVE to win and although we don't often win the games we should we will, so 3-1 win for me tonight! JR and Derbs (on as a sub) among the scorers, maybe even one last goal from the Maestro also (if he does indeed leave in the summer?!?!)
Hughes Da Man
Unless you put in a very poor performance this one has home win written all over it!
merlin
You'd think so, but we have an awful habit of giving lifelines to clubs in need - Whether it's relegation fodder, clubs on losing streaks, or clubs that haven't scored in vast amounts of games, somehow we serve it up on a platter. However, after the reverse fixture is the one that effectively took the heart out of our season (Savage's injury, leaving us with Tugs and Mokoena as our only fit midfielders) i think the lads should be up for this one.
Head Rover Heels
SHOULD and hopefully WILL, fingers crossed :)
Hughes Da Man
Surely... surely...
MikeyGamst
Well we broke a jinx didn't we. What about that for calls then JR our Player to Watch in a 3-1 win, if ONLY I'd put money on it!!!
Hughes Da Man
If you'd of put put money on it HDM it would never have happened.... lol you know the rules with this sort of thing...
MikeyGamst
Definately HDM - I've always maintained that Roberts will come good, and really can't understand the grief he's been getting considering his injuries and subsequent lack of fitness. These last few games we've started seeing some of the real Roberts, and boy does he look like setting us up with a good front partnership. Special mention for DB too - Quotes from the match reports "Samba headed in Bentley's corner", "Running onto Bentley's through ball", and "McCarthy's diving header connecting with Bentley's cross". How long can he be overlooked on the international stage?
Head Rover Heels
True Mikey! At times it's almost as if people have forgotten HOW MUCH of the season JR has actually missed! If he had played more than he had we could be giving him grief, but even since returning he has been working up his fitness, this doesn't happen over night and only comes with games. Even in some games when he has been targeted I've still thought he played well! Bents was BRILLIANT again, deliver SPOT ON almost 100% of the time. Come on Stevie Mac you know its Bentley time.
Hughes Da Man
 

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