Blackburn Rovers v West Brom: Inside track on Tony Mowbray's side

By Luke Hatfield | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

West Brom face Blackburn this weekend hoping to follow on their recent run of dazzling form.

Bradley Johnson of Blackburn Rovers and Jake Livermore of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

We spoke with Richard Sharpe, Blackburn Rovers reporter at the Lancashire Telegraph, to get his take on Albion's next opponents.

See what he's had to say here...

How has the restart treated Blackburn?

They obviously won their first game back against Bristol City, which moved them right into contention, it was as close as they'd been to the play-offs all season, just one point off.

But then they went and lost games at Wigan and Barnsley, probably fancying their chances at breaking in there. Everyone started looking and thinking it was a possibility, but three defeats, losing at Wigan and Barnsley then Leeds, with the results that went against them they went eight points behind.

I think people have written off their chances a bit now, so it's been up and down.

Missed chances at Wigan and Barnsley, that was the real frustration - two games that they could've taken points from and just didn't.

That was a real killer of any momentum built-up by that Bristol City result. But then they came back with a very good win on Tuesday over Cardiff.


What are the expectations at Ewood Park now?

Most fans have written it off. When it gets to eight points I don't think you ever expect to make that gap up in five games, I know they've got it back to five now.

Derrick Williams of Blackburn Rovers and Kenneth Zohore of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

One thing I will say about them is that they are a very streaky team. You look since they've come back into the Championship, very regularly they'll go on runs of winning four in a row, unbeaten in eight, something like that, but by the same token before Cardiff it was one win in eight.


It's been very up and down in the form and that's probably why they find themselves about where they are.

I think most fans at the start of the season put Blackburn somewhere between seventh and 12th, so they're probably about where most people thought they would be.

It's just a bit of a frustration, where they got themselves into such a good position but not being able to take advantage.

Has the lockdown benefitted players getting back fit?

Well, they did and then they got injured again.

Corry Evans got injured against Preston in January, he fractured his skull and a fractured eye socket. Tony Mowbray said at the time that he didn't expect him to play again this season, while Corry always thought that he'd be in a position late-March or April to come back.

He came back against Bristol City and was man of the match, but he's since broke his toe - he's not played since then and has been a big miss.

Lewis Holtby was the same, he came back having previously expected to miss the season. But they have had quite a few injuries since the lockdown.

They've struggled at left-back in particular, they've had to rotate there with four players able to play there being injured at different times.

They're one of those teams where they've got their 11 and if they can get them out regularly it's strong. It's a core of players he likes to call on, Evans would be included in that.

John Buckley Blackburn Rovers and Kyle Bartley of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

Throughout the course of the season they've had some big players unavailable for decent chunks of time which, for the squad that they've got, have been difficult to deal with.

What style of football can we expect from Blackburn?

It's been different since the lockdown. 

They've moved to a 4-3-3, played a bit with a false nine - Holtby has played as that central striker. Danny Graham came back in on Tuesday, but didn't play like the Danny Graham we've seen, he did play that bit deeper.

They've been using speed on the outsides, like Adam Armstrong on one flank and Dominic Samuel playing on the other. 

That was to allow three in midfield so they could have more possession and control. Those are teams that Mowbray's been associated with throughout his career, he's not felt he's had the players at Blackburn to be able to do that. 

When they came out of League One, direct's probably too much of a stretch, but they'd work off Danny Graham. So it's very much recently been Stewart Downing playing in a midfield three, and just trying to control the ball that bit more than we've seen.

Who are the big dangers for Albion to worry about?

Armstrong, he scored another wonder-goal on Tuesday, he's now got 15 this season.

Since Bradley Dack's injury he's been by far and away the stand-out attacker. Mowbray's basically rotated in other areas really, but Armstrong's been the one fixture.

Blackburn Rovers' Adam Armstrong (right) celebrates

He's played as a central striker previously, but recently out wide. His shooting from distance is something to worry about, he's scored seven or eight from outside the box this season.

He's been the one really, and in midfield Lewis Travis has really come on. He's a lad who's come through the academy, so they'd probably be the two stand-outs.

What's your predicted XI?

Predicting Mowbray's teams has been futile to be honest, but here's how I imagine they'll shape up:

Walton; Nyambe, Lenihan, Adarabioyo, Rankin-Costello; Travis, Johnson, Downing; Armstrong, Samuel, Graham.

We've not seen an unchanged team yet, but knowing it's win or bust he might try and keep as close as he can if everybody's come through the win over Cardiff.

What have you made of Albion from afar, do you think they have what it takes to seal promotion?

I know it's probably easier looking from the outside, it's a bit more difficult being a fan, but the teams that are up there in Leeds and West Brom have been pretty done for a while I think.

The fact that Brentford have had to go on such a good run to even get close to them says a lot.

I think they deserve it for being up there for so long.

I know they've got Pereira who everyone talks about, but I don't think they're a team you look at and think get that 'fear factor' really.

But they've obviously done enough over the course of the season to rightfully be where they are.

Your match prediction?

I think there will be goals, I think both will go for it. 2-2.

You can follow Richard on Twitter here.

Luke Hatfield

By Luke Hatfield

Digital Sports Journalist with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.


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