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Blackburn Rovers vs. Sunderland

Ewood Park

2nd January 2008

20:00

Rovers v Sunderland

The win against Derby on 30th December ensured Rovers ended a barren run and finished 2007 in the right manner. It is now important to make the most of this upturn in form with a victory to start 2008 in the right way and maintain our winning ethos to a new year.

Sunderland come to Ewood Park looking to end a run of six consecutive away defeats and avoid a second defeat to Rovers this season. It is also another clash between two of United`s contemporary great players, now doing a stellar job in management.

However, Mark Hughes` Rovers should have the upper hand against Roy Keane`s Mackems. The performances against Chelsea, Man City and Derby showed a marked increase in quality from Rovers but they must avoid conceding the opening goal. It is making games all the more difficult.

Also, conceding the opener against Sunderland could prove to be a very difficult deficit to over-turn. They will look to sneak an early goal and will be encouraged by Rovers` proneness to defensive lapses.

However, if Hughes` troops can take the lead in a match for the first time in ten games then a chance to control a game could have one of two affects. Either Rovers take confidence and dictate the game, or the goal leaves the players wondering what to do next, such is the length of time since Rovers scored first.

We would hope it is the former and not the latter. After all, the team were winning for fun earlier in the season. That opening goal will be key.

It will also be important to subdue two living legends in the Sunderland side, the famed pairing of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. The pair both played fro Rovers together for a two year period, to limited success.

And a final sub-plot, Keane has his eye on two Rovers players - Robbie Savage and Jason Roberts. Hughes has hinted at the fact they both may leave in the now busy transfer window so could he be tempted to flaunt them in front of Keane.

Vital Quotes:

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes on conceding the first goal: 'It's frustrating because it's undermining what we're trying to do. We know we're a good side at this level but you've still got to make sure you don't concede goals and put yourselves in situations that are difficult to get out of.'

'Once we're in front we can dictate the tempo and control the game a lot better than we have done in recent weeks, when we've been chasing the game and trying to get back on level terms.
'

Roque Santa Cruz on being a happy Rover: 'It was a very important choice for me and I am happy to come here.

'At Bayern the manager told me he wanted me to stay but for the bench, and because of my injuries I knew I had to keep playing so I could get back to my best.

'When I talked to the manager here, he said I'd have a chance and after a few months in England this feels like home.

'This is the best thing that could have happened to me as I stayed too long at Bayern.
'

Sunderland defender Danny Collins: 'We've managed to get ourselves out of the bottom three and hopefully we can go on up the league a bit.

'We've haven't won away from home but hopefully we can go to Blackburn and get at least a point.

'I watched Blackburn last week and they came on strong towards the end. They are a fit team and they've got some quality players in their ranks.
'

Blackburn Rovers Team News:

Mark Hughes has a slight concern over the fitness of Steven Reid who missed the match against Derby with a slight injury. Zurab Khizanishvili, who has impressed at centre-back recently could continue alongside of Ryan Nelsen as Chris Samba stays by the side of his partner, who is expecting a baby.

Rovers from: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Khizanishvili, Bentley, Mokoena, Tugay, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, McCarthy, Dunn, Reid, Savage, Berner, Olsson, Roberts, Derbyshire, Brown.

Player to watch: Morten Gamst Pedersen

It's been a tough few months for Morten but a new year brings new fortunes and what better way to annouce your up-turn in form than by scoring in the first game of 2008. I fancy Morten to end his barren spell tonight.

Sunderland Team News:

Sunderland could be boosted by the returns of Nyron Nosworthy and Russel Anderson, both of whom are making excellent progress. Roy Keane is sweating on the fitness of Ross Wallace.

Sunderland from: Gordon, Ward, McShane, Halford, Harte, Higginbotham, Collins, Yorke, Etuhu, Leadbitter, Whitehead, Richardson, O'Donovan, Jones, Chopra, Waghorn, Murphy, Stokes, Cole.

Player to watch: Kenwyne Jones

He has impressed for Sunderland this season, leading their line admirably with his cocktail of pace, power and skill. He could cause the Rovers backline a few problems.

Match Facts & Stats

Ref Watch:

Rob Styles officiates having issued 4 red cards and 49 yellows in his 4 games this season.

Match Prediction:

This is a game there for the taking for Rovers but it is imperative that the promising early starts we have been making in recent games continues, but is supported by a goal or two. The opening goal will be vital. If Sunderland get it, it could be a difficult evening with a lot of long balls to the powerful Jones. However, Santa Cruz cannot stop scoring and it doesn't look like that run will end any time soon. Bentley is also in terrific form but encouragingly Gamst and Benni are putting in some improved displays so hopefully they can end their droughts. 2-0 Rovers

Next Fixtures:

The FA Cup begins for Rovers next against Coventry at Ewood Park on Saturday.




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The Journalist

Writer: Roversman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday January 2 2008

Time: 10:10AM

Your Comments

This is a game for the taking but it won't be easy. If the lads play to their full attacking capabilities then goals will come. It is important to remain tight in defence and strike first. Come on Gamst and Benni, prove me right!
roversman
You stole your man to watch from me in the forums. THIEF!!!!! i demand justice lollll, as always great report
sasman
Sunderland are an improving team, but this is a good way to start the year isn't it, and will be even better if we can start it with a win, a win that I think we will get, 3-1.
Hughes Da Man
Yer i hope clean sheet and a win, hopefully Benni and MGP can grab a goal, or MGP just send in a cross or a good corner/free kick. COme on Lads!!!!
roverjoy
If MGP did anything in a match it would help, he ( for me ) was the biggest disappointment in the team this season, with his undoubted talent not in question, he just has not performed half way near it! Maybe it cos Bentley/Cruz has stole some of his thunder as the main man in the team or if he's carrying an injury that no-one has spoke of. But hopefully we'll see him firing soon, cos if we do Rovers will have one of the best wing partnerships in the league
Clint
great preview and i too really hope we win tonight. two key things for me benni to get a goal (more important than gamst gettin a goal) and keeping the elusive clean sheet!
durks de rover
Yes, I'm looking for an efficient and professional display so would happily take a 2-0, esp if benni and/or gamst scores. The clean sheet is a much needed requirement. Do you guys know that we haven't been beaten yet when we have scored first!!!
roversman
This game is a must-win... because now we're only 7 points away from Liverpool. We'll get there, top4, we're coming!
diegoveron
Now this is one you should win!
merlin
we won, benni mac penalty, omg blackout for 2 hours, i completely missed the game, im hoping your report will come early roversman
sasman
woah so this is what it feels like when we keep a clean sheet id forgotten what it felt like and i like it more of the same please well except the reported bad performance but after so many games recently im just happy with the three points!
durks de rover
One that we should have won, and one that we did (but we WOULDN'T have last season I'm telling you!) not pretty but we got the job done.
We've now got a nice little run of matches coming up haven't we.
Hughes Da Man
 

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