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North East Hat Trick Please


Alan75
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Anyone who has followed Rovers exploits over the years will know what a soft touch the Ewood outfit are when it comes to playing bottom of the league clubs. Therefore, I’m a bit concerned at the run in to the end of the season, not because of home games against Liverpool and Chelsea but the three away fixtures against relegation candidates Sunderland, Birmingham and Portsmouth.

The first of those fixtures starts tomorrow, when they head to the north east to take on bottom club, Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, which on form should be a nailed on 3 pointer for Rovers, but one only has to look at last months 2-0 defeat at the hands of West Brom at the Hawthorns, to realise how prone Rovers are to slipping up when favourites to win.

Rovers fellow European challengers have also been pitted against relegation candidates this weekend. (Arsenal away to Portsmouth, Spurs at home to West Brom, Man United v Birmingham and Bolton v Middlesborough).

I cant see any of the other European challenging clubs slipping up, so the pressure is on Rovers not to slip up against Sunderland tomorrow, if they are to keep up with the chasing pack.

A task that won’t be helped with the absence of Savage, whose constant running and chasing would have been a great asset against the industrious if not skilful Black Cats.

Rovers should however have the rejuvenated Tugay available after injury and if he can deliver some penetrating balls for Bellamy to get behind the cumbersome Sunderland defence Rovers could hopefully get a hat trick of wins against north east clubs, having already beaten Newcastle at St James Park and Middlesborough at the Riverside in the premiership.

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Match Preview by Eddie

Well it is crunch time in the Premiership at the moment and we need three points from every game, so who better to play than Sunderland. If you could ever be sure that if a game went true to form we would come out with the three points it would have to be this one. Despite our relatively poor away form (given our home form and league position) Sunderland have the worst home record in the league and have in fact yet to win a game at the Stadium of Light in the league this season. They are 17 points off of safety and given that there are only 8 games left in the season they have little other than pride to play for.

It was only just over a month ago that Sunderland travelled to Ewood to play the re-arranged match. The game finished 2-0 with Bellamy scoring both of the goals and nearly grabbing his first Rovers hat-trick late on. That game was our chance to bounce back after two disappointing defeats to Everton and West Brom away, this time we come into the game on the back of two home victories, hopefully the result will be the same.

The chase for the UEFA cup spots, if not the Champions League, is still very much alive. We go into this game only three points behind fourth spot, something even the most optimistic of Rovers fans would not have believed at the beginning of the season. However, complacency cannot set in. We are also sitting only 10 points ahead of 13th spot and defeat on Saturday could see us drop as low as 8th. We are all well aware of the fact that Bolton are only a point behind and have two games in hand, but all we can do is keep winning and hope that other teams slip up. With Arsenal away at Portsmouth and Spurs at home to West Brom it is only Bolton playing a team not involved in the relegation dogfight. Hopefully those two teams will do themselves and us a favour and pull off surprise results. While we could also do with Middlesbrough bouncing back from last weekends defeat at Ewood by beating Bolton at the Riverside.

As for Sunderland, it is difficult to say who exactly we should fear in their team. There is no doubt that they have players with better ability then they have perhaps shown this season, but they have struggled to score goals, with only 19 this season, and have also conceded at a rate of nearly two a game. Their top league goal scorers are Whitehead and Lawrence, both with three, and we all know that they the striker with the worst goal draught in the Premiership in the form of ex-Rover Stead. We do always have to fear the possibility of former players getting goals against us, but I’m not even sure if Stead will start in this match. They’ve failed to score in nearly half of their matches in the Premiership this year and have kept only three clean sheets. They’ve picked up two points in their last six home matches but haven’t won home or away in eight.

Everything points to a Rovers win, but that is exactly what makes me so worried. It would be typical of our side to give Sunderland their first home win and throw our European aspirations into serious doubt by losing a game at such a crucial stage of the season that we should win easily. Hopefully Tugay will be back from his injury as this seems to be the perfect game for him, other than that the only player we should have out is Savage who will be suspended, if anyone can finally figure out whether this is the only game of his suspension or the first of two or three (?), then that would be great. If not I would expect the same team as played in our last match with Bentley slipping into central midfield alongside Reid if Tugay is not back.

I’m not brave enough to make a prediction as I don’t want to jinx the result, but hopefully the boys won’t let us down, they can’t afford to.

Fans Predictions Click here

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