There’s been good, bad, and ugly for Manchester United in 2011, but United are winding down the calendar year in scintillating form, with five consecutive Premier League wins part of a nine-match unbeaten league run. And if United can extend that run to six straight league wins and ten straight unbeaten with a home win over Blackburn this afternoon, they’ll go into next year on top of the Premier League table, and a certain special legendary manager will get an excellent 70th birthday present.
Last season’s home fixture against Blackburn is one easily remembered, as United struck seven in a spectacular 7-1 win, with five of them coming from Dimitar Berbatov.
The away fixture is also one easily remembered. The match itself wasn’t memorable, but Wayne Rooney’s late penalty not only gave United a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park, it gave United a historic 19th title, with a week to spare.
1. Blackburn have picked up only 11 points from 18 matches this season and sit five points behind Wolves, who currently occupy 17th spot.
Blackburn’s season ledger stands at two wins, five draws, and 11 defeats. All of the draws have come away from home, where they’re 0-5-4 this season.
Blackburn were winless in their first four matches this season before stunning Arsenal 4-3 at Ewood Park on 17 September, and after that victory, they went eight league matches without a win before a 4-2 home win over Swansea City on 3 December.
But while they currently come in on another four-match winless streak, Rovers come in with a bit of confidence after picking up a solid 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Boxing Day. It’s also worth noting that, along with the win over Arsenal and the draw at Liverpool, Chelsea came away from Ewood Park with only a 1-0 win, City were held scoreless for nearly an hour there before the floodgates opened in a 4-0 win, and they went down only 2-1 in a home tie against Tottenham.
2. Blackburn have scored a fair amount of goals this season, with their 25 goals ranking a respectable eighth in the league. 10 of those goals have been scored by Yakubu, who has been one of few bright spots for them this season. After not producing much in his last few seasons with Everton, Yakubu’s thrived in his first season at Blackburn, and he scored all four of Blackburn’s goals in the win over Swansea.
3. However, Rovers haven’t done so well when it comes to the other end of things. They’ve given up 39 goals so far, 19 in nine home matches and 20 in nine away matches. Only Bolton, who are one spot and one point ahead of Blackburn in the table, have allowed more goals, with 41.
Blackburn haven’t recorded a clean sheet this season, and they’ve allowed multiple goals in a match 12 times, with Aston Villa, Newcastle, Arsenal, City, Norwich City, Wigan, and Stoke City all scoring at least three. Monday’s match at Liverpool was only the third time this season that Blackburn haven’t allowed multiple goals in an away match, with the other times being 1-1 draws at Fulham and QPR.
1. United come into today off the heels of five-goal hauls in back-to-back routs of Fulham and Wigan, and they now have notched 16 goals in their last four matches. That outburst has allowed United to significantly beef up their goal difference, which is now at +33 and only five behind City’s +38.
All signs point to another prolific day for United today, given their recent success and Blackburn’s struggles in the defensive department. And recent history is on United’s side as well. In winning seven in a row at home in all competitions against Blackburn since a 2-1 defeat in September 2005, United have scored 24 goals. United have scored multiple goals in all of those ties, and they’ve notched multiple goals 11 times in the last 13 times Blackburn have visited Old Trafford in the league.
2. As prolific as United have been in front of goal lately, they’ve also been tight defensively, even with a rash of injuries decimating depth at the back. The clean sheet against Wigan gave United three straight clean sheets and seven clean sheets in their last nine league matches.
3. Speaking of injuries on the defensive front, United’s long injury list got even longer this week, as Jonny Evans won’t be available today after suffering a calf injury against Wigan. However, Rio Ferdinand could return to action today after his bothersome back kept him out of the last two matches, and Phil Jones is also set to return after missing Monday’s match, which will allow Michael Carrick to return to midfield after slotting in (and doing well) at center back on Monday.
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