Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United preview
It has been a miserable few days for Manchester United after crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich and being knocked off the top of the table by Chelsea last weekend. With Chelsea in the FA Cup and Arsenal having a rest ahead of their trip to Spurs next Wednesday, United have the chance to return to the top of the Premier League.
Sam Allardyce has done a good job at Blackburn with limited resources as they are all but assured Premier League safety with a strong possibility of a top half finish which would be a great achievement. Rovers season has been built on a strong record at Ewood Park where they’ve lost just one of their last fifteen league matches.
In fact, Big Sam’s team have taken 16 points from a possible 18 in their last six home games with Chelsea the only team able to avoid defeat in that run. The teams Blackburn have beaten in this run include Fulham, Wigan, Hull, Bolton and Birmingham.
Manchester United will be a far sterner test particularly now the Premier League is their last opportunity of adding to the Carling Cup trophy they’ve already won. Sir Alex Ferguson’s team have already lost five times on their travels this season and will be mentally and physically exhausted following their Champions League exit.
However, the desire within the squad burns bright and they will be up for this one. Playing away should give the likes of Dimitar Berbatov far more space to exploit than he would receive at home which was perfectly illustrated by United’s 4-0 win at Bolton in their last away outing.
The performance and tempo showed prior to Rafael’s sending-off on Wednesday was more what you would expect from the champions and that defeat may galvanise the squad ahead of some tricky matches.
Blackburn have only lost two of their last nine home league encounters with United. This includes three wins for Rovers which proves that Ewood has not been a happy hunting ground for Sir Alex over the years. Despite this it’s worth noting that United have won seven and drawn one of the last eight clashes home and away with Blackburn.
Wayne Rooney made an unexpected return against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, lasting just 55 minutes and will not be put at risk ahead of the clash with Manchester City next week. Gary Neville and Ji-Sung Park, rested against Munich will be available
Although this has been a devastating week in Manchester United’s season, expect the champions to bounce back strongly to return to the top of the table.
Manchester United Sqaud: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Foster, Neville, O’Shea, Rafael, De Laet, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Scholes, Fletcher, Park, Gibson, Obertan, Valencia, Giggs, Nani, Berbatov, Macheda, Diouf.
Should Federico Macheda be given the chance to play in place of the injured Wayne Rooney?