Date:Saturday September 1 2007
Sunday 2 September 2007
Sunday sees Premier League action return to Ewood Park as the infamous Sven Goran Eriksson brings his new look Manchester City side to Lancashire with their array of foreign imports and vast amounts of good fortune.
For both sides, this will be deemed a winnable game, but City fans will undoubtedly have illusions of grandeur heading into this tie after it was made apparent on Friday that they are the most disillusioned fans in England.
However, Eriksson will ensure his players don`t lose focus and bounce back from last week`s first Premiership defeat of the season against Arsenal, a team that Rovers matched toe for toe a few weeks previous.
It will also be the first time that Sven Goran Eriksson takes a team to Ewood Park following his acrimonious reversal on his word when he agreed a contract to become the new Rovers manager ten years ago.
That should add a little extra spice to this encounter as well as City`s determination to overturn the barrage of goals conceded to Rovers last season as three Blackburn wins amassed a total of nine goals.
Both sides have made impressive starts to their respective campaigns, Rovers going about their business quietly and modestly whereas City have been grabbing all the headlines following a run of three wins and three clean sheets, including that win against Manchester United.
Whereas last week was billed as a tough and closely fought contest against Everton, this one should be a lot more open with both sides having quality players to unlock defences at their disposal.
Santa Cruz on the Hughes factor: "I had four or five clubs who were interested in me. I talked to some people, managers, and Mark Hughes made the difference. He told me his ideas. It was a simple decision after that. He said I would get the opportunity to play. And to learn.
'He said this team is competitive, but that I will only help to make it more competitive. I had a good feeling. I feel fit and strong. I feel like I can do everything now.'
Hughes on squad options: 'I was able to rest a number of players against MyPa. Chris Samba was ill, but we are hoping he is going to be okay for the weekend so he comes back into the equation.
'Benni and Roque obviously are key players for us, as are Savage and Dunn as well. So I've got a lot of options and a lot of good players that I can call on.'
Mark Hughes is set to recall a number of his rested stars for this clash with the Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz partnership set to re-ignite despite only being 75 minutes old.
Chris Samba has been struggling with illness all week but has a strong chance of returning for this game. If he is passed sufficiently fit he will likely replace Andre Ooijer in the centre of defence.
Rovers from: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Ooijer, Warnock, Bentley, Dunn, Savage, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, McCarthy, Derbyshire, Roberts, Tugay, Mokoena, Rigters, Khizanishvili.
He has put in two consistently good displays in the middle of the park and another on Sunday will see Rovers create chances through the middle. Whereas City have Geovanni and Elano, Dunn needs to be Rovers creative spur in the middle of the park with Robbie Savage neutralising the opposition threat. It is going to be a hands on display in the engine room but Dun has been displaying all the abilities of doing this.
Like Rovers, City will bring back a number of first team players including the impressive and resolute defensive partnership of Micah Richards and Richard Dunne. The impressive early season form will see Geovanni return to the starting line-up should he shake off an illness.
Manchester City from: Schmeichel, Hart, Corluka, Onuoha, Sun, Richards, Dunne, Garrido, Ball, Fernandes, Geovanni, Hamann, Johnson, Ireland, Petrov, Elano, Bianchi, Corradi.
The young international has been putting in performances at the centre of the defence that belies his age. He is quick, sharp, strong and dominant in the air. Rovers will have to focus as much of their attacking play away from him but in McCarthy and Santa Cruz, perhaps even Roberts, Rovers have physical, yet clever strikers who could give the youngster a run for his money.
Hughes may indeed decide to start with Roberts as a way of combating the presence of Richards.
Manchester City have only managed to score against Rovers twice since 2004.
City's only win in 12 Premier League matches against Rovers was by an odd goal in five triumph at Ewood Park on 25 August 2003, when Nicolas Anelka scored the winner in the 87th minute.
Matt Derbyshire appears to have a fetish for scoring against City after finding one in the league ties and one in the cup against them last season.
Rovers are one of only five teams still unbeaten in the Premiership. The others clubs are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle.
Mike Dean will officiate this tie and he has already issued a sensational 21 yellow cards and a single red in his three games.
This will be a far more open game than last week`s draw against Everton and the previous match against Arsenal. Man City will try and play their counter attacking football but if Rovers can get an early goal to force them out then there is every chance Rovers can hurt them. Calls have been made by Rovers fans this week to see more first time shots at goal and it will be sensible to test Kasper Schmeichel early on because, despite his three clean sheets, he has at times looked a little suspect, especially on crosses. This is one of Rovers` strengths so Hughes will be keen to see David Bentley and Morten Gamst Pedersen (who got a brace in this fixture last season) deliver the goods for the forwards. Rovers to emerge victorious with a repeat of last season`s scoreline: 4-2
Rovers travel to Stamford Bridge nest on Saturday 15 September
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Date:Saturday September 1 2007
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