Date:Sunday December 23 2007
23rd December 2007
Defending has been the key issue this week around Blackburn and the foundations for the perfect test awaits on Sunday. Chelsea, the fallen champions of England who cannot buy their league back, pull up to Ewood Park.
Things are a lot different around Chelsea these days since the acrimonious departure of Jose Mourinho. In fact his last Premiership match was against Rovers when Rovers showed tremendous resilience and defending to leave Stamford Bridge with a goalless draw.
That kind of defending is what has been lacking in recent weeks so it should be used as stimuli.
However, a further hurdle awaits as the back-four can`t settle at the moment through injuries and suspension. Today`s game will see commanding centre-back, Chris Samba suspended so Zurab Khizanishvili could come in.
Mark Hughes says his team must stop leaking goals:
'It isn't just about the back four or five it is a collective thing right throughout the team.
'At the moment we are giving ourselves a little bit too much to do.
'There is a feeling of frustration. It is very evident that is where our problems lie, conceding too many goals, so we are working hard to address it.'
Chelsea manager Avram Grant on Frank Lampard:
'Frank is a great player, a great professional. He has a lot of qualities and one of them is to score a lot of goals. He had a bad injury this season and didn't play for a month which is unusual.
'In the last few years he has played in all of the games but he is back with a lot of passion.'
Chris Samba is suspended so either the unsettled Aaron Mokoena or unused Zurab Khizanishvili will come in.
Brett Emerton returns from his ban and could slot straight back in. The other question surrounds who partners Roque Santa Cruz.
Five goals in two games is tremendous considering he was going through a drought. However, despite the goals Rovers has lost both games.
However, he is back to his instinctive best so it is paramount that sevice is good to him.
Although, one thing has come to my attention. We shouldn't give Roque time with his chances because he usually over thinks them and scuffs horribly!
Chelsea are sweating over the fitness of rejuvenated Andriy Shevchenko so Claudio Pizarro may get a rare start.
Jon Obi Mikel is fully fit after narrowly missing the horror lunge of Peter Crouch.
He is creeping into a spate of form and will need to be tamed so that his elusive 100 goal for Chelsea isn't achieved against Rovers. He does have a nasty habit of scoring against Rovers.
Steve Bennet will officiate his first Rovers game of the season on Sunday. So far in his 15 matches he has issued four red cards.
This presents Rovers with a very stiff chance of turning their form around. However, sometimes a game against one of the top sides can inspire a team. Rovers will need to tighten up in defence if anything is to be achieved. It will also be important to ensure plenty of quality balls are played into the area fro Roque and partner. However, hoping for a win here is asking too much. 1-1
Manchester City away the day AFTER Boxing Day!
Date:Sunday December 23 2007
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