Two more to go until the international break with Blackburn Rovers up first. Will we leave Ewood Park victorious?
When I think of Blackburn I immediately think of the Championship. Over the last few years, they have never been at threat of going down but at the same time haven’t challenged for a Playoff place. The man at the helm for the Rovers is Tony Mowbray who since he has come in has done an excellent job at getting the club into the Championship and establishing themselves in the league. The face of the Lancashire club in recent years has been Bradley Dack but as he recovers from an ACL injury a new player has taken over the reins. The Chilean Pele, Ben Brereton Diaz has got 12 goals in the league this season and is the second top scorer in the league after Mitro. He will be tough to deal with and will prove a handful for our centre-backs. Former academy graduate Tayo Edun will likely start tonight and it will be nice to see him return.
From a Fulham point of view, tonight will most likely be marred by the news that Fabio Carvalho has rejected a new deal. I still think it is possible he stays but it is sad that another academy graduate doesn’t want to play for us. It makes me think about what the point is in having such an amazing academy when all the best players leave for next to nothing. Concerning the debate about whether we should start him or not, I think we should. While he plays for Fulham we have to utilise him to our advantage as he is a difference maker. The more we play him, the more compensation we get as well so that is another reason it is potentially worthwhile.
I would make three changes from the team that beat West Brom. The first change is an enforced one and that is bringing in Hector for the suspended Tosin. My preferred choice would be Mawson but I like both and think Marco has hinted that Big Mike will start. The other two changes are in midfield bringing Cairney in for Reed and Carvalho in for Decordova-Reid. It is clear that we will have lots of possession versus Blackburn and both of these players having the ability to find the killer pass making them ideal starters. A Mitro brace to seal all 3 points.
SCORE PREDICTION: Blackburn 0-2 Fulham
PREFERRED LINE-UP: 4-2-3-1
H2H LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- PLAYED – 86
- FULHAM WINS – 28
- DRAWS – 22
- BLACKBURN WINS – 36
- GOALS SCORED – 118
- GOALS CONCEDED – 131
H2H LEAGUE RECORD (HOME)
- PLAYED – 43
- FULHAM WINS – 10
- DRAWS – 7
- BLACKBURN WINS – 26
- GOALS SCORED – 37
- GOALS CONCEDED – 73
LAST 5 GAMES
- BLACKBURN 0-1 FULHAM
- FULHAM 2-0 BLACKBURN
- FULHAM 2-2 BLACKBURN
- BLACKBURN 0-1 FULHAM
- BLACKBURN 3-0 FULHAM
BIGGEST WINS AT EWOOD PARK
- BLACKBURN 5-1 FULHAM (1953/54, 1960/61)
- BLACKBURN 4-0 FULHAM (1959/60, 1977/78)
PLAYERS IN COMMON
Tosin Adarabioyo, Peter Baah, Viv Busby, Tom Cairney, Andy Cole, Chris Coleman, Damien Duff, Tayo Edun, Harvey Elliott, Dickson Etuhu, Tony Finnigan, Lewis Holtby, Shefki Kuqi, Billy McKinlay, Danny Murphy, Ian Pearce, Harrison Reed, Ryan Tunnicliffe.
DID YOU KNOW?
In the new millennium, Fulham have been in the same division with Blackburn more seasons than any other club. This is the 17th out of 22.
Here’s a Blackburn perspective from the Rovers Chat YouTube channel ahead of tonight’s game at Ewood Park…
When it comes to Blackburn vs Fulham, what is the first match you think of from years gone by?
I think Rovers’ dramatic 2-2 draw at Fulham in our relegation season comes to mind for a few reasons.
On a personal note, it’s the last away match I missed barring Covid and typical that we scored very late on. That Joao goal felt special, regardless of where you watched it, and it was a key point for us at a vital stage of the season as we was after as many points as possible under our then-new manager Tony Mowbray.
There’s a 3-0 at Ewood that also is in my mind when I remember Danny Graham scoring, and the 2-0 loss at Craven Cottage in 2019-20 due to Cairney’s screamer.
What were your expectations going into the season and have they changed based on the start you’ve made?
I’ll be honest that like many fans, I expected Rovers to finish around 17th.
They have now changed slightly given the red hot form of Ben Brereton Diaz and the incredible fight that we have shown this season, and I’m expecting us to finish just outside the top half.
A striker in January may push us a little further up in my prediction.
Are you happy with the job Tony Mowbray has done since arriving in 2017?
I definitely am. Prior to his arrival, we had been under the torrid management of former Burnley gaffer Owen Coyle, and the atmosphere was toxic around the club.
Mowbray just couldn’t do enough to keep us up, but he installed a mentality within the club and brought the fans and team back together, which meant the world. He then took us up the first time, giving us all a season we’ll never forget, and now we’re back to being a stable Championship side.
He may not be the man to take us forward from here, and time will tell, but he will always have a a place in my heart for the job he did giving us a Blackburn Rovers to be proud of again.
You signed former Fulham academy graduate Tayo Edun over the summer. What have you made of him so far this season?
Tayo has had a very bright start to life at Rovers. He was our only purchase in the summer, and after a few cameos, he has been a regular in the side, mainly covering left back in the absence of Harry Pickering.
He looks a good acquisition and I expect him to be a key player for us in years to come.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a squad?
The main strength lies for me in the front three. Gallagher, Brereton Diaz and Dolan are all still relatively young, and they’ve really stepped up to the mark following the departure of last season’s top scorer Adam Armstrong. They can all play in any of the postions and this fluidity has helped a lot.
I’d also say we’re strong at winning the ball back when we’ve lost possession, which is a big positive in the side as we now play with less of the ball than we did last season.
A weakness this season has been how we respond when we’re leading, and it is always a nervy ending where Rovers are involved. We’ve thrown away two two-goal leads this season, and had some near misses, so I won’t be comfortable until the whistle goes if we’re leading!
What are your top 6 and bottom 3 predictions?
My top six would be: Fulham to win the league, Bournemouth to finish second, West Brom, Swansea, Coventry and Luton, with Swansea to win the play-offs.
My bottom three would be: Derby, Hull City and Peterborough. The Rams might stay up if they avoid a points deduction though.
How do you see the game panning out?
I see Fulham having a lot of the ball and Rovers having to be clinical with their chances. This almost feels like a free hit for Rovers, and that is sometimes when we spring a surprise.
Keeping Mitrovic quiet is obviously key given he has scored half of your goals this season, but there’s plenty of talent that we will have to be worried about.
I do think we’ll score, but it will be tough and I’m going to go for a (maybe very optimistic) 1-1 draw.
LEAGUE POSITION: 9TH
LEAGUE FORM: WWLDL
HOME FORM: WDWWD
LAST RESULT: DERBY 1-2 BLACKBURN
GOALS SCORED: 25 (5TH)
GOALS CONCEDED: 18 (15TH)
AVERAGE POSSESSION: 41% (23RD)
DISCIPLINE: 33 YELLOWS 1 RED (5TH)
TOP SCORER: BEN BRERETON (12)
MOST ASSISTS: JOE ROTHWELL (4)