Blackburn’s season so far:
Following the resignation of Steve Kean we have dipped in form a little. Henning Berg was a surprise appointment and the Norwegian is yet to hit the ground running having won just one of his first six games. Having been top of the league earlier in the season we are now four points adrift of the playoffs, which, by Blackburn’s standards is unacceptable.
Berg inherited a squad lacking fitness, discipline and tactical awareness and as the saying goes Rome was not built in a day, therefore it is going to take some time for Berg to get the team playing his way. It would be wrong to judge him after just seven games. We have to be patient because, arguably, we have the strongest squad in the league with the likes of Rhodes, Murphy and Rochina and for this reason I believe given the time and backing, promotion is still a possibility, albeit perhaps by the playoffs.
Expected lineup (4-4-2)
GK Paul Robinson RB Adam Henley CB Scott Dann CB Gael Givet LB Martin Olsson RM Mauro Formica CM Danny Murphy CM Jason Lowe LM Morten Gamst Pedersen CF Colin Kazim-Richards CF Jordan Rhodes
Away from home we have been banging in the goals. It seems we play with less pressure on the road and hopefully the same will apply on Sunday. If Rochina starts then on his day he can be the difference in this league. His flare and vision is second to none and would cause any defence problems. Another huge strength which we possess is the goal scoring prowess of Jordan Rhodes. The Scotsman is, like Austin, one of the most feared strikers in the league. He proved on Wednesday how dangerous he is going at least 80 minutes with barely a touch of the ball but keeping the concentration and composure to find the net with practically his only chance of the game, if that is not world class then I do not know what is!
We have two very bright, pacey and creative full backs. Martin Olsson, who I’m sure Burnley fans will remember very well, and Adam Henley enjoy getting forward at every given chance. Their pace on both flanks will be a huge strength for our quick counter attacks.
Now it is fair to say at this moment in time the weaknesses massively outweigh the strengths. Defensively we have been sloppy all season both Scott Dann and Grant Hanley are suspect to mistakes, therefore I am praying Berg selects the warrior like Gael Givet to stiffen up the defence. In the midfield Etuhu has been getting the nod ahead of Lowe but the Nigerian’s recent performances have been well below average. Pair him with Danny Murphy and we have the most immobile midfield in the league. Slow, weak and very lazy, both players have yet to show their worth. But if we play Lowe instead of Etuhu then it will allow Murphy to sit deeper and spray the ball around while the youngster bombs up and down the pitch like a headless chicken. It’s not pretty but it is very effective and that could be the difference on Sunday afternoon.
Another major weakness we have is a shortage of natural right wingers. Mauro Formica usually starts on the right but the Argentine often drifts inside despite the space being out on the touchline. In January Berg must address this situation if we are to continue playing this system.
I personally believe this is the best chance in decades Burnley have of beating us. We are on a poor run of form, there is a lack of leadership on the field and tactically we look confused. But, as stated earlier, on our travels we seem to be playing with a little more freedom which may shock Burnley.
The game promises to have goals with the league’s two most feared strikers going head to head. We have the more superior squad, but that counts for nothing in games like this. Based on recent form and the occasion I’m going to sit on the fence and slump for a 2-2 draw.