Old Trafford, Manchester
November 27, 2010; 8:30 PM IST – Live on ESPN
Manchester United welcome Blackburn to Old Trafford having won seven of the previous nine fixtures between these clubs in all competitions. The match is important for both the teams as victory for the home side would lift them to top of the standings for the first time this season while Blackburn’s win would propel them to seventh position.
Sir Alex has called for better performances from his team as his team has failed to hit top form throughout the season despite being unbeaten thus far. A last gasp draw against Villa and only a 2-0 win against 9-men Wigan in the last two games has been a reason to worry for the manager. However, he will be more than happy that his team is second in the standings only due to goal difference despite failing to hit top gear. This fixture is a must win game though with a tough fixture schedule in December coming up.
Blackburn, on the other hand have been in good form of late having won three of their last four fixtures. However, the stats are stacked against Blackburn as they have won only once out of their last sixteen trips to Old Trafford – a 2-1 victory courtesy a brace from Morten Gamst Pederson.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Sir Alex has a few worries in central midfield as Darren Fletcher is ruled out due to an ankle injury suffered in the last game against Wigan while Paul Scholes is also struggling with a groin injury sustained in midweek against Rangers. Valencia, Hargreaves and Owen are still missing but rest of the squad is fit for the home side.
Ferdinand and Vidic are likely to return after being rested for the Ranger’s game. Anderson could partner Carrick in central midfield with Scholes and Fletcher out. Also, Rooney is set to start his first game at home since his contract saga which was followed by a lay-off due to an ankle injury. Berbatov should be his strike partner in a 4-4-2 formation.
Sam Allardyce is without Mame Diouf who is ineligible to play under Premier League loan rules. There are several other players missing for the visitors due to injury such as Andrews, Grella, Benjani, Nzonzi and Emerton. But the major worry for Big Sam is the doubtfulness of Morten Gamst Pederson who has certainly been a man in form having scored five in the last five games for club and country. The Norwegian faces a late fitness test but is expected to be risked for this big game.
Kalinic is likely to be the lone striker with Benjani and M. Diouf unavailable for different reasons. Blackburn would be looking to attack from the flanks with El Hadji Diouf and Pederson taking on the mantle to run at United’s full-backs. Chimbonda could feature in the starting XI with Givet doubtful for the game.
Key Match Facts:
1) Rio Ferdinand has played 720 minutes this season without committing a single foul.
2) United are currently on a 28 match unbeaten run in all competitions.
3) Blackburn have lost all 4 games in which they have conceded first.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Rooney is set to start his first game for the Red Devils since his contract saga. From the time the teams are announced, all eyes, including the cameras, will be upon the striker. He showed signs of good form against Rangers and if he could manage the same again, he would be too hot to handle for the Rovers defence.
Manchester United 2-0 Blackburn Rovers
United have scored at least two in all barring two games so far in the league this season. It will be no different this time around as the Red Devils will climb on top of the standings following a comfortable victory.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST