Beware Man Utd: Five Reasons Why the Trip to Ewood Park Will Decide the Title
On the face of this trip, Ewood Park does not seem to be very intimidating.
With merely 25 miles, but a difference of 15 places between the two sides when they lock horns on the 2nd of April, don't be fooled into thinking that the reigning Champions of England can bag the three points.
Here's why Manchester United must be very wary when facing them.
1. Local Rivalry
With not more than 25 miles between the City of Manchester and Blackburn, there will always be a local flavor to this match when the two meet.
Blackburn Rovers, having once been owned by Steel Magnate Jack Walker before being sold to the Venky's London Limited, were once the toast of English Football.
The pinnacle of their fame was when they secured pole position in the Premiership in the 1994-95 season. However, after selling off their star player Alan Shearer to Newcastle United and their manager Kenny Dalglish becoming director of football, they experienced a slow and gradual decline, which resulted in them becoming relegated and then returning to the Premiership at the end of the 2000-01 season.
Their team is also fairly good and one of the reasons they lost at home to them on New Year's eve was because of a light-weight midfield, as well as Michael Carrick having to deputize in central defense.
While Monday Night will be markedly different thanks to the presence of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans, United cannot afford to take their foot off the gas.
Doing so might derail their Premier League ambitions.
2. Bogey Team
Every single team in the Barclays Premier League has a bogey team.
There's a team in the league that every team gets the jitters against or is never able to give its best against. Wigan Athletic have never won against Manchester United in the Premier League, Bolton Wanderers always find it difficult against Chelsea and Arsenal sometimes struggle against Stoke City, as well as other sides who play direct football.
In a similar vein, Manchester United have had problems in the past against Blackburn Rovers.
On a head-to-head basis, the Red Devils have played against Rovers 111 times, winning 50 of them, drawing 29 and losing 32.
There will be a certain amount of intensity when they meet again, with Ferguson's men playing against a Rovers team which despite climbing out of the drop zone, will give their best to snatch all three points.
3. Past History
It's the 1998-99 season, and Manchester United's penultimate game is against Blackburn Rovers who are being managed by former United player Brian Kidd. Alex Ferguson was yet to be knighted and the treble was far from secure, but the Red Devils secured a goalless draw and were ready to play Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. The rest is history.
The 2007-08 season, Roque Santa Cruz drew first blood against the Red Devils. Towards the end in stoppage time, Carlos Tevez popped in the equalizer to keep Manchester United's title dreams alive and they went on to win the Premier League for the 17th time and also won the Champions League in Moscow against Chelsea.
In the 2009-10 season, Manchester United's failure to grab all three points at Ewood park resulted in Chelsea winning the league that year by just a point. Had they won that match that season, Manchester United would have won 19 that year itself.
In the 2010-11 season, Brett Emerton scored the first goal only for his goal to be cancelled out later by a Wayne Rooney penalty. United held on for a point, and in the next match they were handed the Premier League trophy for the 19th time.
4. Relegation Fighters Are the Worst Teams to Play Against
Remember West Ham United against Manchester United last year at Upton Park?
Manchester United was down 2-0 against the Hammers at half-time.
Remember Blackpool against Manchester United in the 2010-11 season?
Blackpool had taken the lead in both matches that season, only to be beaten by Manchester United on both occasions.
Despite the Red Devils pulling off memorable come-backs on all three occasions, the ones who are fighting in the lower rung of the table are the ones never to be taken lightly.
Don't believe me? Just ask Liverpool FC who played against Wigan Athletic.
5. Reliance on Other Sides Never Comes in Handy
Manchester United's main aim would now be to win all their remaining games in order to secure title No. 20.
There's a huge circus of mind-games that have got some of the younger players at Manchester United on the edge, and Sir Alex has taken them all to Scotland in order to give them a bit of respite from the tightness of the Title Race.
Manchester United's fixtures are no easier than Manchester City's to be honest.
While City is yet to face Arsenal and Norwich City away from home, Manchester United will play relegation threatened Queens Park Rangers, FA Cup semi-finalists in the form of Everton and Brendan Rodgers' Swansea City.
While all these matches are at home, the Red Devils would have to be at their best in order to win it all. City may or may not win their matches, but if Manchester United keep winning theirs and turn the heat on Manchester City, then there's a title to be had.
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Glory glory Man United!
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