Tactical Look: Blackburn Rovers
Due to work commitments I witnessed Blackburn's home draw against Fulham last Saturday. The quality of the football was good - especially the technically gifted midfielders in the away team - but what struck me most was the blood and thunder tactic employed by Rovers.
Having never really been that interested in Premiership football before until now, I had thought that the words hoof, Blackburn Rovers and Sam Allardyce were a hyper inflated myth. Apparently not!
Although having players who are comfortable on the ball like Morten Gamst Pedersen and El-Hadji Diouf, throw-ins are a big attacking ploy and from anywhere inside a 30-yard radius of the penalty area will be handed to Pedersen to hurl into the box, which will see the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Samba and Ryan Nelson piled into. Samba is the obvious target at 6ft 4in and he puts himself about with the presence of a target man.
Samba is also crucial to Rovers at the back. Up against Clint Dempsey last week, who is no mug in the air, the Congo international rarely looked phased as he mostly headed the ball straight up to Kalanic up front, averting all danger.
What is encouraging for the Seasiders is that the ball fails to stick up front a fair bit. Kalanic could be described as on the weak side which means if the Pool midfield can keep the ball for lengthy spells it could see Blackburn go longer and longer when they have possession.
They did go very long against Fulham, especially in the first half, which put Mark Schwarzer under immense pressure with runners from midfield in and around his box. This resulted in poor handling from set pieces and Matt Gilks has to be built of sterner stuff on Saturday.
That is where the main threat lies, Rovers simply being bigger and stronger than us from set plays. I'm not saying that they're necessarily any better than us and purely on footballing terms probably aren`t. Where they perhaps are a better outfit is the canny knack of winning freekicks where they know they can do damage and such - basically more knowhow about winning games in this league, which is to be expected.
The best chance of a home win is if Ian Holloway sets his Blackpool team up to boss the game on the ball with ball retention and attractive football. Being dragged into a punt-a-minute slog will see us automatically forfeit three points.
Go with Harewood to try and occupy one of the centre halves by all means, but the roles of the wide strikers will be the most crucial. Get them into the game and it becomes more stretched which will benefit the team who plays the better football. Time will tell if Charlie Adam, David Vaughan and co bring their A game, which has failed them at times this year so far...