Rovers win again - but lose Akpan to injury
On Saturday 25th November we played Middlesbrough, who are struggling against relegation, in front of a crowd of 33,345 ecstatic fans who made us feel as if we are about to win the Premier League!
We had to play still without Besic of course, but at least Bennett was back and Aké had agreed to replace Lowe at least for this one match. We have assured him that he will always be considered a defender, not a midfielder, but that we need him as midfielder at least for now and he said he understood.
And although it wasn't an easy game by any definition we managed to defeat the Smoggies but we did lose Akpan who had to go off injured deep into the second half!
We started well and Lens almost scored within minutes when he struck the ball on the half-volley but Guzan managed to push it away. Marshall also had a great chance with a header, but he put it horribly wide.
And then Forshaw chipped the ball into space and Pukki was free of our last defender so he blasted the ball towards the top corner, but it was saved in style by Steele! Just a few minutes later, though, Friend smashed the ball in low on his left foot and he did score!
The crowd got behind us, though, and we took control of the game again. Aké played well as did Akpan, but it was Henley who hit a hopeful looking shot and found the net, just before half-time!
And it did not stop there, either. The second half had barely started when Lens spotted Guzan off his line and chipped the ball towards goal and scored his 100th league goal of his career!! The crowd was delighted!
Things were going well for us now. Our defence played as well as ever and Lens was superb, but then disaster struck once more as Akpan picked up an injury and had to go off! We brought on Lowe(!) to replace him and went on to win the match with some difficulty but we do have serious injury problems now!
With the crowd behind us our lads fought like tigers and we defeated Middlesbrough. Henley is getting more game time lately and playing fantastically. He was named Man-of-the-Match.
So that's yet another three points against a mediocre opponent.
But the bigger challenges are coming up now. First it will be Everton in the EFL Cup and then Spurs at White Hart Lane in our next Premier League match just before our two-week break.
And with Akpan out for ten days, who will replace Besic against Everton and against Spurs?
Everton knock Rovers out of EFL Cup
Four days later, on Wednesday 29th November we were knocked out of the EFL Cup Quarter Finals by Everton, more or less as we had already expected.
With Akpan injured we had little choice. Jason Lowe replaced Besic as defensive midfielder (after all, we are still paying him wages) while Aké continued to replace Lowe as central midfielder. And it must be said that they both did what they could and in fact, our whole team has to be commended for playing as well as they did.
We did receive another blow, though, when Henley had to go off injured within ten minutes. There seems to be some kind of curse on our defenders and defensive midfielders!
Everton were by far the better team. Nevertheless, it took very long before we (or should we say, Steele?) finally succumbed. It was Dier who scored the deciding goal.
In way this is a relief, though. At least we can now concentrate on the Premier League and on the very necessary work of rebuilding our squad.
In the Premier League we shall have to play Tottenham at White Hart Lane next. Still without Besic, Akpan or Lowe and now also without Henley. And then, after a much-needed 15-day break all of them except Henley should be available again when we play Charlton at Ewood Park.
Maybe if the midfield are more confident in the defence, they can push forward more and therefore create more chances.
Or maybe I read too much into a game and it is just luck
The artist formally known as The Eejit
Great comeback against Middlesbrough but definitely going through an injury crisis right now. The January window cannot come quickly enough!
Could Ake play instead of Besic/Akpan in DM?
The league charge continues - a fine comeback - showing fine determination!
The cup is a blow but arguably bigger fish to fry in doing as well as possible in the league
How many physions you have? They are aearning thier crust at the moment!
Need to focus on the league and how to topple Sansea from their perch
With the injuries I guess you have to grin and bear it. I'm not sure you are at the point yet, but would you change the formation or select players out of possition ?
The artist formally known as The Eejit
The problem with the formation is the number of goals scored. We need a goal machine to replace Lens or a world class midfielder to replace Lowe.
I have thought about switching to 4-1-3-2 so midfield without Lowe and with Zeqiri as partner for Lens, but that doesn't work because Bennett and Marshall are wingers so Bennett, Grimes, Marshall wouldn't be ideal as midfielders.
Last edited by samsami; 22-02-17 at 02:39 PM.
Rovers lose 5-goal thriller at White Hart Lane
On Sunday 3rd December we played Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane without Besic or Akpan, who are both injured and without Henley - and yet we came so very, very close!
The injuries meant that Aké had to play in his least favourite position, as central defensive midfielder, while Bilal replaced Lowe as central midfielder. And while Aké actually played remarkably well, Bilal was more or less invisible.
And for a change our defence also had a bad day at the office. Nyambe and Wisdom both received a yellow card and obviously they had a hard time with the creative Spurs forwards, while Flanagan was unfortunate enough to have to face the likes of Dennis Suárez and Christian Eriksen.
Spurs were clearly the better team, but as so often there were no goals in the first half. And then, just minutes into the second half Aké jinked past Suárez and put a low cross into the far post. Lens showed good control of the ball and went past Sissoko and struck the ball with fury to score the shock opener!
Spurs attacked even more fiercely now and with 65 minutes on the clock Eriksen finally scored to cancel out Lens' opener. And they did not stop there! Kane lost his man and shot on the volley, but Steele gathered the ball safely. Suárez also had a scoring opportunity but he put the ball just wide.
And then we countered again and Grimes laid the ball off for Lens who was unmarked and scored his second goal of the day! And on most days that would be the clinching goal of course, but not so to-day.
Spurs owned the last twenty minutes or so and they created several decent scoring chances, but as the clock ticked down we began to get more hopeful. However, it all went wrong in the final minutes. With just four minutes remaining Alli took on Wisdom who could not prevent Alli from going past him and lift the ball over Steele to score the equaliser. And less than five minutes later Kane took the ball forward and when nobody even tried to stop him, Kane took the ball into the penalty area and scored with a fierce strike.
Football can be cruel. Of course Spurs fully deserved to win, but why do we have to concede two goals in the last five minutes??
This was our fourth loss in sixteen League games. Still not bad at all, what with all those injuries. And at least we now have a two-week break until the 18th of December!
Meanwhile, Lowe has decided to join Charlton on a free transfer this summer. Unfortunately no club was prepared to sign him in the upcoming January transfer window. Perhaps he can make himself useful yet now that he has found a new club?
And during our long two-week break most of the other clubs (with the exception of Man City) played some of their games-in-hand which made us drop to sixth position in the League table. Still a very good position for us of course, although admittedly we are a little jealous of the amazing Swans...
What do you reckon, top6 a realistic goal?
Thriller of a game there!
2 winnable games next
Up the Swans!
Oof, bad luck with those two late goals! Still doing incredibly well though.
Shame you didn't get any much needed cash for Lowe, that's always frustrating.
Another 5-goal match: Rovers 3 Charlton 2
On Monday 18th December we finally got to play a game again, this time in front of a record-breaking crowd!
We had beaten Charlton 4-0 in our opening game of the season so understandably the crowd expected to see goals again, preferably more than four. And they did - only not quite as they expected.
But at least, we won the match against the team residing at the very bottom of the Premier League Table.
With Besic back from his injury Aké played as left defender again and this time we had Akpan replace Jason Lowe as central midfielder alongside Matt Grimes.
Charlton started positively and created one or two chances but then it was our turn. Marshall took a corner and Lens headed the ball towards the goal, but he put it wide. However, less than two minutes later he did score the opener with a ferocious right-footed strike!
We wanted a quick second goal, but when that did not come quickly enough it was Kashi who unexpectedly scored for Charlton by rifling the ball in low with his right. This happened just before half-time so now we had to start from scratch in the second half.
We brought on Lowe for Akpan hoping that Lowe would still perform for us if he were given a chance, but it was Matt Grimes who found the net by scoring in the rebound after Besic had bent a shot in at goal and Jakupovic could only parry it. Grimes is a real specialist in being at the right place in the right time. He may not be a world-class midfielder, but he scores more goals than any other first team player, including Jeremain Lens!
And as if to prove the case, twenty minutes later Marshall had a chance, Jankovic pushed the ball away and the rebound fell to Grimes who scored his second goal of the day!
Flanagan then picked up an injury and had to go off. We seem to lose a defender to injury in every single game lately! And then, with 80 minutes on the clock Lookman picked up the ball after a poor goal-kick by Steele (who is not perfect, either!) and Lookman blasted it goal-wards with his left foot and found the net!
However, in the remaining ten minutes we forced Charlton back under pressure and they never produced another shot on goal.
Besic is clearly not at the top of his form yet after his injury. Grimes was named Man-of-the-Match.
We still haven't found anyone to replace Lowe, but at least we won another match against a relatively weak opponent.
Unfortunately, Flanagan will be out for two weeks or so. There seems to be no end to the list of players, especially defenders, picking up injuries.
But the good news is that Henley is available again so he can immediately replace Flanagan as right defender. At least we do have some squad depth!
There's not one, but two matches coming next in quick succession. On Saturday 23rd December we will play West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park and just three days later it's Liverpool at Anfield!
Henley's return is very good timing!
Excellent result although your usual defensive solidity went out of the window!
Amazing that you've got a record crowd but against Charlton of all teams?
Easy win over West Brom
On Saturday 23rd December we played West Bromwich Albion in front of yet another record-breaking crowd. Excitement is mounting in Blackburn these days!
With Akpan as central midfielder again (we simply don't have anyone else to replace Lowe) we quickly scored not once but twice against the team which are currently in 15th position in the Premier League table.
Besic is playing as well as he did before his injury and Aké is playing like a young dog now that he is back in his favourite position as left defender and so we won the match without much difficulty.
However, there was some bad news again as well. With just ten minutes on the clock Nyambe had to go off injured after a good sliding challenge on Rondón. Yet another injured defender!! Fortunately for us Marshall scored the opener less than a minute later with the assist coming from Aké. And Lens doubled our lead soon after that.
In the second half it was Besic himself who actually scored! It was only his second goal in 18 appearances but it was a beauty! Bennett lifted the ball towards him in the area and Besic dived onto the ball at full stretch and scored with a superb header! Foster never saw it!
Chadli scored a late consolation goal, a bit of a disappointment for Steele, but this was an easy afternoon for us.
Besic is playing as well as ever. Aké was named Man-of-the-Match, though.
And yet another defender injured, which means that we have to play Liverpool at Anfield without Nyambe and without Flanagan. In fact, Nyambe will be out for a full month!!
Liverpool too strong for Rovers
Three days later, on Tuesday 26th December we played Liverpool at Anfield without Nyambe and also still without Flanagan. And although Besic is at the very top of his form, the rest of the team seemed to have a bit of an off-day.
Liverpool were superb, even though they did not create all that many scoring opportunities, they have so many world class players that it is not funny anymore. We never had a real chance.
Morata and Henderson scored for the Reds, both of them in the second half.
Liverpool fully deserved to win. They certainly took advantage of our weak central midfield and you can hardly blame them.
So we lost at Anfield. And there is no rest for the wicked. We have four more matches to play in just eight days, starting with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday 30th December. Two days later it is Chelsea at home and two days after that it's Man City, also at Ewood Park!
We have a busy schedule but at least the January transfer window is fast approaching!!
5th halfway through the season, got to be happy with that!