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Preview: Blackburn Rovers v Blues

Blues could leapfrog their hosts and finish as high as 15th with victory.

BCFC

Blues visit Blackburn Rovers in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday lunchtime.

The 12.30pm kick-off in Lancashire is the final game of the 2020/21 season and presents the opportunity for Blues to leapfrog their hosts by picking up their first maximum at Ewood Park since 2013.

Currently three places behind Blackburn, Blues could leapfrog their hosts and finish as high as 15th with victory. That would be a third away win in a row for Lee Bowyer’s men, with recent successes over Rotherham United and Derby County meaning the team have only lost once on the road since the Head Coach’s arrival in March.

Blues will also want to end the campaign on a high and bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to Cardiff City at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.

Similarly, Blackburn will be eager to conclude on a positive note after dropping points from a losing position away at Rotherham last time out. They can also complete a double over Blues following their win in B9 earlier this year.

However, a look at the history books has Blues leading the way on the head-to-head record going into the 130th meeting between the two.

THE OPPOSITION:

Frightening going forward and fragile at the back, it has been a season of contrasting fortunes for Blackburn who are the only side in the bottom half to have a positive goal difference ahead of the final day. Their record in front of goal is prolific, having found the net the sixth most times in the Championship.

Of their 60 counters to date, a quarter-century have come through the division’s third-highest goalscorer, Adam Armstrong, with the Rovers marksmen averaging a goal every game and a half. Former Blues loanee Sam Gallgher has chipped in with eight strikes, including one in each of their back-to-back home wins during April.

However, those successes over Huddersfield Town and Derby County were the first in their own backyard since January, a run that included five consecutive defeats during a winless February for Tony Mowbray’s team.

In his fourth full season in charge, the 57-year-old has worked with a youthful squad that includes the exciting Liverpool prospect Harvey Elliott. Although, with only one outfield player over the age of 25 making more than 30 appearances this term, this inexperience has perhaps contributed to the recording of just 11 clean sheets. In the second tier, only Bristol City and Rotherham have fewer to their name.

LAST TIME OUT:

A Blues side featuring seven changes to the starting XI were beaten by a scoreline which flattered an experienced Cardiff side last weekend. Wales Under-21 midfielder Ryan Stirk impressed on debut, although the headlines were stolen by his compatriot Harry Wilson. The Liverpool loanee hit a hat-trick in the West Midlands, with Mark Harris also on the scoresheet for the Bluebirds.

Blackburn had to settle for a point against Rotherham in their most recent match. Armstrong had handed them a 17th-minute lead when he robbed Angus MacDonald and finished confidently. However, this advantage was wiped out in the closing stages as Lewis Wing’s calculated free-kick beat Daniel Kaminski meaning the points were shared.

WE MEET AGAIN:

Blues 0 Blackburn Rovers 2, 02 January 2021

Blues will be looking to exact revenge on a Rovers side that beat them at the start of the year.

That loss also came with a sense of injustice as the visitors scored their first during the same period of play in which Ivan Sanchez was denied what appeared to be a clear penalty.

Lukas Jutkiewicz and Jonathan Leko came close to cancelling out Armstrong’s first-half opener after the break, but as Blues went chasing a leveller, Bradley Dack came off the bench to hit Blackburn’s second in added time.

BLUES TEAM NEWS:

Jon Toral (hamstring) and Scott Hogan (hip) are both out.

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Blues wins: 48 

Draws: 34

Derby County wins: 47

LAST FIVE MEETINGS:

Championship 02 Jan 2021 – Blues 0 Blackburn Rovers 2

FA Cup 04 Jan 2020 – Blues 2 Blackburn Rovers 1

Championship 26 Dec 2019 – Blackburn Rovers 1 Blues 1

Championship 22 Oct 2019 – Blues 1 Blackburn Rovers 0

Championship 23 Feb 2019 – Blues 2 Blackburn Rovers 2

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MATCH OFFICIALS:

Referee – Keith Stroud

Assistant Referees – Jonathan Hunt and Sam Lewis

Fourth Official – Leigh Doughty

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