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Blackburn preview and pub guide: Rovers return to Championship going well

Blackburn preview and pub guide: Rovers return to Championship going well
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Blackburn have made a solid return to life in the Championship and have spent most of the season in the top half of the table.

After last season’s promotion from League One, they have continued to be upwardly mobile this term, although without ever really challenging the pace-setters at the top.

The reason for this is that their away record does not match their excellent form at Ewood Park.

Rovers have the fourth-best home record in the Championship, behind top three Leeds, Norwich and Sheffield United, with seven wins and six draws from their 15 matches.

However, as discussed in the pre match podcast (above), their away form is only the 14th best in the division, with four wins, four draws and six defeats on the road.

They come into Saturday’s match in good form, having won their last four league games, with their only defeat in 2019 coming after extra-time in their FA Cup third round replay with Newcastle.

Blackburn famously won the Premier League title in 1995 and they and Leicester are the only sides apart from the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea to have achieved that.

They were founder members of the Premier League and played in all but two of its first 20 seasons, until they were relegated for the second time in 2012.

They have been in the Championship ever since, apart from last year’s one-season stay in League One.

WHO’S IN CHARGE

Tony Mowbray took over at Blackburn in late February 2017, a day after previous boss Owen Coyle left by mutual consent.

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When the former Middlesbrough, Celtic, West Brom and Hibernian boss arrived, Rovers were three points adrift of safety with 15 games remaining, but he produced an amazing upturn in form which ended up with them only being relegated on goal difference on the final day of the season.

He continued the revival last season as he led Rovers to promotion from League One at the first attempt as runners-up to Wigan.

Tony has previously managed Ipswich, Hibs, West Brom, Celtic, Middlesbrough and Coventry.

As a player, he made more than 550 senior appearances as a centre-half for only three clubs – Middlesbrough, Celtic and Ipswich.

WE’VE MET BEFORE

Blackburn have become a bit of a bogey team for us in recent seasons and are unbeaten in our last five meetings.

After we did the double over them in our first season in the Championship in 2014/15 – winning 3-1 at Griffin Park and 3-2 at Ewood Park – things have gone their way ever since.

The following campaign, we drew 1-1 in Lancashire when Tom Lawrence cancelled out Lasse Vibe’s opener before half-time, in a match in which Marco Djuricin suffered an injury which kept him out for two months.

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Shane Duffy scored the only goal in the 86th minute to give Rovers a 1- 0 win when the teams met in TW8 the following March, even though Rovers played most of the second half with 10 men after the sending-off of Grant Hanley.

In 2016/17, Blackburn earned only their fourth win of the season, in their 17th game, when they beat us 3-2 at a snowy Ewood Park in November, in a match in which all five goals came in the first half.

Scott Hogan put us ahead in the opening minute but Danny Graham equalised 15 minutes later and then put Rovers ahead from the penalty spot moments later.

Hogan levelled for Brentford on the half hour mark but an own goal by Harlee Dean proved decisive.

They completed the double on the final day of the season in a match they had to win to have any chance of avoiding relegation. However, other results went against them and so their 3-1 win, earned with goals from Charlie Mulgrew, Danny Guthrie and a Craig Conway penalty, with Lasse Vibe replying, proved irrelevant. The Bees also had Harlee Dean sent off

They continued their hold over us this season, as they inflicted our first defeat of the season with a 1-0 win at Ewood Park. Kasey Palmer scored the only goal early in the second half.

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OPPOSITION VIEW

BBC Radio Lancashire’s Blackburn Rovers commentator Andy Bayes gives his view on our visitors’ season so far, what makes Bradley Dack so good and the job that Tony Mowbray has done at Ewood Park.

Q – Blackburn have been at the right end of the table all season – what’s been behind their good form?

A – A winning mentality from last season, hard work on the training pitch, good management and a group of good players who really want to do well for each other. The team spirit around the club is as good as I’ve ever known it. I think that counts for an awful lot.

Q – What were the expectations at the start of the campaign – consolidation having won promotion, or was another promotion bid the main aim?

A – Definitely consolidation. The manager has talked about needing three of four transfer windows for the team to evolve into one that could see Rovers back in the Premier League one day. After the last few Championship seasons, I think most fans would have settled for not looking over their shoulders too much at the bottom three.

Rovers haven’t really been top six all season, they’ve been close and then drifted and are now looking close again. It sums up the Championship really and how unpredictable it is.

Q – Bradley Dack is one of the most coveted players in the Championship – what makes him such a good player and what are his strengths?

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A – His skill, his ability, his work-rate. Often the work-rate bit doesn’t come with the skill and ability, but it does for Bradley Dack. He’s been a tremendous signing. He plays football with a smile on his face and the results are there for all to see. He can score a goal out of nothing or be a provider with an inch-perfect pass.

He’s a great lad as well. All of the players love him. He’s always quick to point out that his team-mates are just as important as he is.

Q – How good a job has Tony Mowbray done since arriving at the club and what sort of manager is he?

A – He’s done an incredible job – not just with the players, but with the fans as well. He’s a straight talker, a football man who some might describe as “old school”. I’d consider that a little unfair in certain regards. He certainly believes in football principles that date back years, but has certainly evolved with all of the changes in the game.

Rovers were relegated at Brentford in 2017 under Mowbray, but the form under his management was top half form and that’s carried on ever since. Largely the additions he’s made to the squad have been more successes than failures.

Q – What style of play can Bees fans expect to see from Rovers on Saturday?

A – They can hit Danny Graham and be quite direct but there is a lot more to the way they play than that. The encouraging thing in the four-game winning run is that they haven’t been reliant on Mulgrew, Dack and Graham for the goals. They are a threat from set-pieces, more so when Mulgrew plays. The last away win at Millwall recently was an awful match, but a 2-0 win. I’m sure every travelling Rovers fan would take that again.

Q –  Apart from Dack, who are the main players that Bees fans should watch out for?

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A – They are very much a team but I would say the form players at the moment are these. Lewis Travis has been excellent in centre midfield, and Adam Armstrong is in fantastic form – he’s scoring regularly as well as creating. Harrison Reed is another who is a fans’ favourite and consistently performs well.

Also well worth mentioning Jack Rodwell. He’s been fantastic recently at centre-half. He’s had a lot of unfair stick in recent years and you can tell now he’s getting in a run in the side, just how good he is. Eliiott Bennett has played in most positions for Rovers and is another 100%’er and Danny Graham as a hold-up striker is as good as any in the Championship.

Q – Finally can you tell me a likely Blackburn line-up and formation please?

A –

Raya

Bennett, Rodwell, Lenihan, Bell

Travis, Evans

Armstrong, Dack, Reed

Graham

BEESOTTED SCORE PREDICTIONS

Some of the Beesotted crew have given me their score predictions for Saturday’s game.

 – Expecting a cold, blustery afternoon at GP with a Bees 2-1 win. Expecting home crowd and fast attack to put them to bed but a tough game, nonetheless. Edward the Headward

 – Long overdue a win over this lot. Keep Dack quiet and we’ll be fine. 3-1 to the good guys. Greville Waterman

 – I was surprised when I looked at the table and saw Blackburn were in eighth place and had won their last four games. But we are on a run, a late charge if you want to call it that, so I think a tight game will be 2-1 to Bees, as long as our defence keeps Bradley Dack quiet. Liberal Nick

 – Dack is the withdrawn threat but we can’t be complacent about Graham at this level. That being said, Blackburn have been overachieving so far this year, so I expect a strong Brentford side, with the returning Mokotjo, to win the midfield battle and take this one 2-0. David Anderson

 – Tough game for the Bees as Blackburn continue to defy their relatively low xG (if you believe that kind of metric) with solid results and a play-off challenge. Will depend on whether our midfield is up for the challenge – with Bradley Dack on fire. Will we play Mokotjo? Or will we rest him for the Barnet match? He will be key for the Bees. A narrow 2-1 victory for the Bees. Billy Grant 

IAN WESTBROOK

@ianwestbrook

PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS

For Blackburn fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).

As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground.

The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the Royal Oak are the other options.

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Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.

The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.

There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave)– right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.

And another new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road.

There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.

For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.

The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road, with a deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy.

A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.

Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.

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Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford.

By tube, it’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford pub crawl outlined above (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe, Griffin) of course. If you’re feeling lazy you could take the E2 bus from outside Northfields station to either outside The Globe pub (3 stops – serves The Lord Nelson too) or Brentford FC (4 stops).

You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.

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About The Author

Ian Westbrook

Bees fan since 1971 - been through all the ups and downs. Written about, reported on, commentated on and wittered on about all things Brentford in that time as well as watching hundreds, if not thousands of games, and loved every minute of it!

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