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Behind Enemy Lines | Blackburn Rovers

A trip to Ewood Park for The lions...

18 February 2022

Rich Sharpe, reporter for the Lancashire Telegraph, gives us an insight into Blackburn Rovers.

Rovers currently sit 3rd in The Championship table, four points off of the automatic promotion places.

"The team have certainly exceeded the fans expectations. Last year, there was an expectation Blackburn would push towards the top six after the squad they put together. They fell away in the second-half of the season and ended up finishing 15th which is about where they've been since promotion back from League One.

"Since last season, Harvey Elliott has returned to Liverpool and Adam Armstrong was sold. In the summer they brought in a few loans and one permanent signing, Tayo Edun from Lincoln. 

"Expectations weren't that high at the start of the campaign. Rovers lost 7-0 to Fulham at the start of November, when the side were mid-table, but they put together a remarkable run to end the year. There were six wins in a row and that's really catapulted them to where they are now. They're in a bit of a sticky run at the moment, but they're still in the mix and very much exceeding expectations." 

Tony Mowbray's side are without a win in their last four outings, and have failed to score since Sam Gallagher found the net against Middlesbrough on the 24th January.

"They have a really good record at Ewood Park. They've won 10 matches at home. Only Fulham, West Brom and Forest have beat them at home. They've not had many home games in recent weeks so that could be a factor as to why things have dried up a little. Being back at home, and looking at the fixtures after Millwall - they have Sheffield United, QPR and Fulham coming up - this is certainly a game that they'll pinpoint and look to have a real go at."

Top scorer Ben Brereton Diaz picked up an injury last Monday against West Brom and is set to miss out this weekend.

"I think they'll assess him as they go along. Blackburn have a three-game week, so that'll certainly make him a doubt for the next few. The manager didn't want to put a time scale on it, but he was certain he would miss this one. It could well keep him out for the next few weeks.

"He's been the main source of goals this year, just like Armstrong last year, Rovers have one player who is far and away top goalscorer. That will now be on some of the other players, particualry given the run they've been on more recently. They've only scored twice in 2022, so it has certainly been their defesinve record that has kept them where they are in the table."

In the abensence of their prolific striker, Sharpe identifies John Buckley as the key player.

"Over the course of the season John Buckley has been very good. He's played in a false nine position, with Brereton Diaz to the left of that. He presses very well. It's not neccesarily goals and assists with Buckley, it's his all-round play. He has tired of late and has missed a couple of chances in recent games, though.

"I think they might look to freshen it up. Tyrhys Dolan is back from injury and has looked bright from the bench in the last two games. If they throw him on from the start he is someone who has got energy and can pinch a goal.

"Sam Gallagher is another one. He scored the winner against Middlesbrough and he is a player Rovers will be looking at to step up in Brereton Diaz's absence. Really, in recent weeks it has been the players at the back who have been the most impressive."

The two teams met earlier in the season and the match finished 1-1 at The Den.

"Looking at both squads, they're both short of options in attack. It probably won't have masses of goals. The two sides play a similar shape, with a back-three and it's always a tight game against Millwall. Rovers have a good record at Ewood Park and I think they'll be targetting a win. I wouldn't be surprised if it's a game decided by a set-piece. I can't see either side running away with it."

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