The Blues head to Ewood Park looking to register their first points of the new season against a Blackburn side also looking to break their duck following back to back defeats in their opening two fixutures.
The home side will line up something resembling 4-4-1-1 potentially with Rochina playing off the striker after his double blast against Sheff Wed in the League Cup this week. Steve Kean inherited a pretty robust outfit from the Allardyce regime and their strength remains in defence and prinicpally their 2 centre backs Samba and Nelson – the pair havent started a game together this campaign but are due to be reunited for this fixture. In midfield expect Pedersen to cut in from the right and the main danger to come from the left where Hoilett is probably the only player on the pitch with genuine pace in wide areas. Their deep lying playmaker Dunn will be looking for the leftside as the outball at every opportunity.
Only Stoke averaged less possession (41%) per game and a lower pass completion (65%) than Blackburn last season. 21% of their passes where long balls in comparison to ourselves (17%). It does seem though that the players Kean is bringing in are less ‘win ugly’ than Fat Sam and that he is trying to evolve the style of play somwhat.
Their threat is in the air and at set pieces which accoutned for 18 of their goals last season; only Newcastle (20) scored more from deadballs. The Blues will need to be razor sharp to contend with this and it wouldn’t be a suprise if Anichebe was drafted in to assist with this on the wing.
Blackburn are strong down the left – Olsson is decent going forward and with Hoilett further upfield there is a threat here. Their right side is the principal weakness – Míchel Salgado has given away more penalties since the start of last season than any other top flight player so it would be advisable to work the ball into space behind the veteran fullback at every opportunity
The midweek win over Sheff Utd was a welcome boost for the Blues. Like the opening to last season, its difficult to predict who Moyes will start with in the offensive slots – whoever does though will need to display better movement than last weeks offering QPR which undermined the entire display. More was made of the fact the Blues had no recognised striker on the pitch – but modern football is about less about ‘2 up front’ and more about intelligent movement from a striker coming deep and dragging defenders with them to create space for attacking midfield players – Man Utd’s last Champions League success was based on Tevez doing just this – all the goals came from the players exploiting the space he created with Rooney, Ronaldo and Giggs the main beneficiaries.
This will be a tight game – neither side has particularly great speed and both find goals hard to come by. Whoever defends crosses into their box better will be in with a shout of winning this one. I’m going for the Blues to sneak it 1-0.