Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United, Ewood Park, 17.15 Saturday 11th November 2006.
Everybody’s talking about Manchester United’s loss in the Carling Cup and the ‘backlash’ that Blackburn are bound to receive.
Let me assure you that there is no such backlash on the cards. Blackburn are tough, physical side and United will be hard-pressed in the game.
There are, however, two things that can make a difference.
Rooney’s form – his goals against Bolton have silenced the critics somewhat, but he’s still not back to his best. I’m expecting him to score today, but if he doesn’t, Manchester United will need something special to win.
Our left-back – Heinze could start, but he’s rusty. Evra’s prone to a defensive lapse now and then but his runs down the left flank are fantastic. It’s our weakest link in the defensive, so I’d expect Blackburn to be targeting this player.
The Carling Cup loss has really, really hurt, and you’d expect Manchester United to come fast out of the blocks and go for the win really hard. Having said that, Blackburn are on a losing streak and Mark Hughes will want to put an end to that, so expect a lot of kicking in the game.
- Manchester United haven’t won at Ewood Park since 1998. We haven’t beaten Blackburn in the last 5 Premiership games.
- Blackburn have one of the worst defensive records (conceded 15 goals, worst is 17) in the Premiership, coupled with the worst disciplinary record (28 cards so far). Blackburn have also given away the most penalties this season (6).
- The corresponding numbers for Manchester United are far better, but then we’re top of the table, so you’d expect us to score the most goals, concede the least goals, win the most games, etc etc.
- In last season’s corresponding fixture Blackburn beat Manchester United 4-3, with David Bentley getting a hat-trick.
- Blackburn have scored more than 1 goal only two Premiership games this season
Bottom line – Blackburn are defensively vulnerable while Manchester United have a new-found solidity thanks to Vidic. United are also better in attack this year, while a case could be made that Blackburn are not as strong offensively as they were last year.
Blackburn – Emerton could return, although Roberts, Savage and Reid are still out.
Manchester United – Park and Ole are out.
Manchester United to win 2-0.