Match Preview: Blackburn Rovers Vs Manchester United

Dimitar Berbatov

I won’t dwell on the Champions League exit too much, the game is gone and there is no point thinking ‘what if’ now.  Sir Alex Ferguson now needs to get his side prepared for the final Premier League run in and next up is a trip to Blackburn Rovers.

Chelsea enjoy a two point advantage at the moment and they seem to have hit form at the right time, but they could still drop points and United have a chance to go top after they play Rovers on Sunday as Chelsea don’t play until Tuesday.   All United can really do from now on in is try and win every game in front of them and hope it is enough to take the title at the end of it.

Blackburn isn’t an easy place to go and Sam Allardyce’s side have only been beaten twice in the league all season at Ewood Park.  They got a point out of Chelsea not long ago and United will have to be on top of their game if they’re to come away with all three points.

Wayne Rooney made a surprise start on Wednesday night but played for just 55 minutes before going off with a recurrence of his ankle injury.  I’ll be honest, I was quite surprised to see him play against Bayern but Ferguson thinks he won’t be out for too long after going off in the second half.

Ferguson said: “I don’t think it’s serious. He’ll be available next week.”

If Rooney were available to face Blackburn it would be a massive bonus but I feel United could get a result at Ewood Park regardless.  It is the kind of fixture where veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs could make the difference and I’m sure Ferguson will rotate a bit after playing a midweek European game, although with just the league on the agenda now the United boss will want to play his strongest possible side every game.

Under Allardycer Rovers have become a very hard team to beat at home and they play in a very physical, direct way.  They do have some skilful players amongst their ranks such as David Dunn and   El-Hadji Diouf but both of these players are guilty of being inconsistent, especially Diouf, which is perhaps why they’ve never truly fulfilled their potential.  Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic also looks a decent player and a good finisher, although as he is a youngster Allardyce doesn’t always start with the Croat but he could still be a danger from the bench.

In terms of injuries United’s only concern is Rooney, aside from those who have been out for some time, so Ferguson has a relatively fully fit squad for this one.  I would expect a reasonably similar formation to the team that beat Bolton a few weeks ago, with Dimitar Berbatov leading the line and the likes of Nani and Antonio Valencia providing back-up.  I’ve managed to see quite a lot of Blackburn this season and I would say one of their biggest weaknesses is dealing with pace – particularly down the left-wing.  Former Real Madrid man Michel Salgado has made the right-back position at Ewood Park his own this season and although he is an accomplished defender he doesn’t have the pace to keep up with the league’s faster wingers and Nani or Valencia could really benefit from this is they’re at the top of their game.

It won’t be easy, but United need to bounce back and take three points against Blackburn to get their season back on track.  If Rooney does pull through it would be fantastic, although it may be better to rest him and make sure he is available for the Manchester derby on April 17.

Written by Gareth Freeman, a sports writer who blogs about tips for the Grand National, Manchester United and racing tips.

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