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Blackburn Rovers Vs Manchester United – Preview and Team News as reds look to Berbatov to prove his worth

By Dan Salisbury-Jones. Manchester United make the short trip up to Ewood Park today to face Sam Allardice’s Blackburn Rovers, a side currently brimming with confidence.

berbatovBy Dan Salisbury-Jones.

Manchester United make the short trip up to Ewood Park today to face Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers, a side currently brimming with confidence.

After a truly disappointing week in which the Reds lost control of the title race and were eliminated from Europe, they have a a mighty tough test this afternoon in Lancashire as they seek to regain top spot.

United have a mixed Premier League history at Ewood Park, winning 6 times, drawing 5 and losing 4. Battles between the 2 sides can also be heated affairs, United fans will remember the tunnel bust up in a Carling Cup semi-final involving Robbie Savage at Old Trafford. That incident was followed just a week later with a tackle that produced the first red card of Rio Ferdinand’s career and a nasty gash on Savage’s leg.

It may now be some years since Blackburn were competing with United for titles of their own, but their recent home form in the league has been nothing short of outstanding, going 7 games unbeaten on their own patch.

That run includes a point gained against United’s title rivals, Chelsea. Last weekend saw Rovers follow their derby success over Burnley with a 0-0 draw at now relegated Portsmouth, despite both Chris Samba and David Dunn hitting the woodwork.

The major team news is that United will have to do without Wayne Rooney, the striker made the most dramatic of appearances on Wednesday night but burst a blood vessel in his ankle in the process. Sir Alex told the press that he expects his number 10 to return for the Manchester derby at Eastlands next Saturday lunchtime.

John O’Shea also made his comeback in mid-week and is once again available for selection, it may also be interesting to keep an eye on the subs bench for the long awaited return of Owen Hargreaves.

We expect to see a different looking side to the one that was knocked out of Europe, Sir Alex wants to makes sure the squad is fresh and will likely turn to the experience and creativity of Giggs, Scholes and Neville today.

One would suggest the side will not be too dissimilar to the one that dismantled Bolton 2 weeks ago 4-0 at the Reebok, that was also without talisman Wayne Rooney.

United are also still without long term absentees Michael Owen, Anderson and Wes Brown.

Mid-table Blackburn will have a triple of late fitness tests ahead of this encounter, Rovers will be sweating on the progress of Keith Andrews,  Lars Jacobsen and Yildiray Basturk this morning.  Apart from that though, the Lancastrians can boast a fully fit squad.

Of that squad, United will have to be wary of the threat posed by top goal scorer and this season, the much praised creative midfielder David Dunn.  Controversial forward El-Hadj Diouf is always lively and can produce magic, United have been hurt in the past by Morten-Gampst Pederson and will need no telling of the importance of keeping him quiet.

Keep an eye out also for Nikola Kalinic, the Croatian striker probably wont start but is an exciting prospect, Slaven Bilic famously stating he is the future of Croatian football.

As stated earlier, 3 points at Ewood would send United back to the top of the Premier League. That opportunity comes as a result of Chelsea being in FA Cup action yesterday, the Blues booked themselves a place in the final with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa. Ancelotti’s side are in league action next when they host Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night.

Arsenal are also not in league action this weekend, but face probably the biggest test of their run-in on Wednesday night in the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.

Despite technically winning in Wednesday night‘s elimination from Europe, United had that losing feeling once again following defeat against Chelsea. The reds have to get back to winning ways and with no room for error this close to the end of the season, that surely has to start today if United are to retain their crown.

It certainly wont be an easy task, Big Sam and Sir Alex are great friends but the Blackburn manager is proud of his side’s home record and would hate nothing more than to let their unbeaten run end tomorrow.

It promises to be an exciting game with a full house expected as just 500 tickets were available for Rovers fans yesterday. United will have some 6,900 travelling fans to get behind them today, they will know the importance of victory and you can expect a noisy Darwin End where they will be housed.

For those not lucky enough to have a ticket, the game will be shown live on Sky Sports, coverage starts at 1pm with the game kicking off at half past.

The last time United went away without Wayne Rooney, they ran out 4-0 winners over Bolton with a brace from Dimitar Berbatov and the onus will be on him again today to shoulder responsibility and live up to his price tag.

Will United go to Ewood and pick up all 3 points? Can they still win the league? Is it time for Berbatov to step up and prove his £30 million worth? Whatever your views, let us know here at football-talk by using the comments box below…

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