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Match Preview - Chelsea - 2nd Feb

Next Wednesday brings the visit of Chelsea and their expensively-assembled squad to Ewood Park. It promises to be a nerve-jangling encounter for Rovers fans, and not many will be looking forward to it.


Blackburn: LWWLW

Chelsea : WWWWW

It quickly becomes apparent just why Rovers fans have every right to be fearful. Chelsea are in an amazing run of form, stretching back past the last 5 league games - they just keep on winning! They are high-scoring and don't let many (or rather, any) in. Arsenal and Manchester Utd have now begun to be left in their wake and unless there's a twist in the tale, it looks like Chelsea will romp home with something to spare. The last time they last in the league was October 16th, the same day we were hammered by mighty Middlesboro.

Rovers on the other hand, have had a mixed bag of form. They've suffered two losses - one down to poor defending, the other to a despicable act of gamesmanship. On the other hand three wins have been notched up - that's one more win in the last five than had been managed in the eighteen before. Mark Hughes is slowly turning the Exxon Valdiz around, after tightening things up at the back, games that were being drawn are now being won, albeit by slender margins.


The Chelsea squad is littered with internationals (and also contains the marvelously-named Lenny Pidgeley). Rovers also have a fair few internationals, they're just not as good/ well-paid. Chelsea have obviously benefitted from the munificence of Roman Abramovich, the Russian oil oligarch, recently the subject of an investigative television program. Rovers, in comparison, appear to be paupers. Football has been dominated by money since the inception of the Premiership, it's a game of haves and have-nots. Despite both playing in the top flight, there is a massive financial gulf between the two clubs and this may well, sadly, be reflected on the field.


Peter Cech is widely acknowledged as one of the best 'keepers in the division, if not the best. A position occupied not too long ago by Brad Friedel. It's difficult to tell whether Brad's standards have slipped or whether it's all the fault of the shenanigans going on in front of him.


Chelsea have Bridge, Galas, Johnson, Ferreira, Carvalho and Terry. The Rovers have Andy Todd, he came close to leaving the club this season, after a string of immaculate performance, Rovers must be very glad he didn't. After that, the cupboard looks bear for Rovers, and it seems a real mismatch. Neill has Premiership experience, and can play well on his day, but all too often goes about his task in a slapdash way, being caught out-of-position a speciality. Mokoena and Nelsen have three games between them, Short is in Emergency Ward 10 all the time, and Amoruso is to defending what Abi Titmuss is to Puritanism. Enough said.


With Barry Ferguson about to depart, a mediocre-sized hole has been left in midfield. Hughes can call on Flitcroft, Tugay, Mokoena, Thompson and Savage in central midfield, with two of Reid/ Emerton/ Pedersen/ Thompson on the wings. In opposition there is Cole, a former player of ours, Lampard, Geremi if he's still there, Robben, Makalele, the new arrival Jarosik and "Where's it hurting?" Smertin. It's likely to be hurting all over with Rovers, with Lampard and Robben in fine form and Rovers midfield in disarray. It is likely to be artists against artisans.


This is where the gulf between the teams appears largest. Drogba cost Chelsea £24m, summer signing Dickov cost less than a tenth of that, yet most of Rovers hopes fall on his diminutive shoulders. Chelsea don't seem that reliant on their forwards to score, they seem more likely to core from midfield. Yet their other assets include Gudjohhnson and Kezman. In contrast Rovers also have two youngsters struggling to find their way, a former England prospect struggling to find his feet after two years rehabilitation, an Arsenal reject struggling to justify his wages ... and that's it.

Conclusion - on paper, Rovers are well-beaten. It will take all of Hughes' organisational-acumen to keep the back door shut and perhaps nick a goal. This looks unlikely unless someone dives blatantly in the box, perhaps.


Ignoring substitute appearances, only Nelsen (1W 0L), Todd (4W 3L) and Thompson (2W 1L) have experienced more wins than losses for Rovers. At the less-dignified end of the scale, notable mentions for Amoruso (0W 2L) and Gray (1W 6L).

All but one of Rovers losses have come against top twelve teams, the exception being the unfortunate loss to Soton. Rovers draws have been distributed fairly evenly through teams in league positions 3 to 20. We've not beaten any current top-six team this season.

Top scorer this season is Dickov with 7 goals from 21 appearances. of the forwards, Gallagher and Jansen are both on 2, Stead is yet to score. Which makes 11 goals from 38 starts between them. Our squad is more prolific with red cards. A red each from Amoruso, Bothroyd and Thompson; between them they have 13 starts. Tugay also got a red against Middlesbrough, but at least he has made it into double-figures for appearances this season.

I was going to have opposition vox-pop, but my mate is expecting a baby in March (well, his Missus is) and hasn't replied to my e-mail. Not surprising since he only recently became a Dad.

OK chaps, that's the preview, now let us pray.

Edited by Bryan
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I have a godfather who's a big chelsea man, actually somewhat into the business aspect as well for the past few years I could send him a few questions if you'd like?

Rovers 11- 1 Chelsea

Duffer opens the scoring before the blues are blown away.

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Just watched the Manx v Chelsea game and they are the complete unit who when have to defend as a team.

Not worth think about next wednesday, but you never ever know with Rovers, we often reserve our best home performances for these type of matches.

At the very least i am sure we will be entertained, either as a great match when Rovers raise their game or as a great team performance from undoubtably the best team in the country.

Forecast hopefully 1-1 a great game or 0-?, depends how poor we are.

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I think its a good opertunity to go to a Rovers game, see some entertaining football, for your money you get to watch one of the best sides in Europe if not the world.

Anything from the game is a bonus. I dont think we'll do too badly but dont hold your breath, enjoy the occassion and hopefully Rovers can learn a thing or two from the opposition.

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one word


Just about sums it up for me, I'm afraid - and the worst of it is I've got a hospitality ticket for this one (a business freebie) so have to try to be civil about it with a few pints inside me.

Best case: 0-2

Worst case: Doesn't bear thinking about


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Rovers struggle to score more than one goal per match; Chelsea look likely to break Liverpool's record of conceding only 16 league goals in a season.

So a contrarian view is that Rovers will win 4-0.

Realistically, Rovers must aim for a 0-0 or 1-1 at best and the only way they will achieve that is by taking a leaf out of Chelsea's book and maintaining their shape and discipline for 90 minutes.

It will demand total concentration by all the players for the whole game and they will have to work extremely hard and believe that they are capable of doing it.

If they don't, and Chelsea score early and we have to chase the game, it could easily be a three or four goal beating.

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Completely agree jim smile.gif

Two cringeworthy thoughts

- For once I hope Ferguson is right about Chelsea crumbling on a cold night in the North West!

- It is actually an honour to have such a fabulous team come to Ewood Park.

Realistically: Rovers 0 Chelsea 3 but Rovers to give it more of a go than some of Chelsea's recent opponents.

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This is where the gulf between the teams appears largest. Drogba cost Chelsea £24m, summer signing Dickov cost less than a tenth of that

the depressing thing is that you can buy 160 Paul Dickov's for one Drogba!!!

come to think of it, 160 Paul Dickov's is a pretty scary image biggrin.gif

Great preview, basically the idea is we defend like our lives depend on it, hope that Chelsea are getting a bit of an Ego and hold out for 0-0.

I think we can do it. They have such a large lead that if we can hold out for an hour then they won't want to risk anything silly by throwing people forward and I don't expect rovers to have more than 2 shots on goal in the whole match.

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How to play Chelsea with the men we've got.

Can Rovers play the traditional 4-4-2 with the men we have, i think we would be left wide open if we did. So i think we should take a leaf out of Chelseas book by playing a back four with a diamond shape central midfield.... thats one midfielder preferably Flitcroft between the midfield and defence just like Makelele does for Chelsea with Savage and Thompson just ahead either side of Flitcroft and Dickov on the tip of the Diamond.

Dickov has to play off Gallas and not Terry becuase Tery will put Dickov in his pocket.

Emmerton and MGP play their usual wide roles, these lads have got to be encouraged to shoot across goal more often instead of trying to set up our weak attackers. The thing i see with these two is that Emmerton can beat his man but wont or cant shoot, whilst MGP can shoot but may struggle in beating his man.

One thing we dont want is Chelsea defending on the edge of their box - why ? because thats when they look solid and at their best and have the speed and strength to counter attack or pick us off at will with the speed they carry.

Bring the Chelsea team into our half if possible with their defenders near to the half way line and then we can try and open them up, this has to be the tactics - we tried it at the Bridge but Matteo and Gray fell asleep and we ended up conceding two easy goals.

If we play our usual game they would pull us to pieces and dont forget Richard Dinnis commented on the local radio that he had seen the Chelsea scout on Rovers last six outings, so they obviously know everything about the Rovers so we have to give Chelsea the unexpected.

Edited by JAL
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I'm on a very intensive course next week in Oxford, where you are expected to be studying till 10pm at night.

Dilemma, do I find a pub to watch Rovers get taught a lesson, or stick to the learning myself?

My head says dont watch, but my heart says watch it, you never know what is going to happen with the Rovers.

Rovers 2 Chelsea 0



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How to play Chelsea with the men we've got.

playing a back four with a diamond shape central midfield.... thats one midfielder preferably Flitcroft between the midfield and defence just like Makelele does for Chelsea

Emmerton and MGP play their usual wide roles

Slight problem here JAL,

Flitcroft can only play backwards thus so we would have a triangle shape \/ rather than a diamond , and if he gets passed the halfway line (per se Makele) he is too slow to get back so we would be left /_\

In addition, although Emerton is allocated the wide role he only plays the diagonal bishop role \

................................... \








Don't know about anybody else, but I feel an onslaught like we got off Arsenal some seasons ago like we have been hit by storm just like we where then.

Don't want to predict the score as I only have 8 fingers and 2 thumbs blink.gif

Edited by CAPT KAYOS
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