The Blackburn Preview
Round 3 of 46 in our Championship return.
First, how nice does it feel to actually get a competitive win again? Granted, there's a summer gap between the respective campaigns, but it's still a feeling we'd all but gotten used to not experiencing.
Watford may have played virtually the entire match with only 10 men, but City still made it count despite their dogged resistance. Our finishes were all superbly taken and we're finally seeing some progress under Neil Adams, who in turn enjoyed his first victory since taking over the hotseat.
One thing I'm looking forward to tonight is the return of a midweek game. Carrow Road under the floodlights is quite a special thing, and you can't really put your finger on why until you're actually there, but it's something we'll see a little more of this season in the second tier and I for one am looking forward to having that back.
As I type this, rumours keep spreading about Leroy Fer's seemingly imminent exit to QPR. Some wish him all the best, others say it's a saga that needs to be sorted.
I think "saga" is a little strong, it's not like he's holding us to ransom or throwing his toys out of the pram, but if he does go I wish him all the best. He wasn't always the best performer last term, but he worked hard and was a really nice chap off the pitch too. I'm glad he at least got the chance to say goodbye against Watford at the weekend, because he has a great rapport with the supporters and I think it was deserved.
As for the news about the possible signings of Cameron Jerome and Carlos Cuellar?
First, Jerome I think would be ok for the right price. I can see him having a similar impact to Kenwyne Jones at Cardiff, in that he's got power and an eye for goal up-front in the right environment. The Championship might just be his best level to operate in. As for Cuellar, he wouldn't be my first choice but we do need more cover in that area of the pitch, so it makes sense that Adams would take a look at him.
Here's the skinny on tonight's game:
- Martin Olsson was charged with improper conduct by the FA earlier this week and starts a fresh 3-game ban, meaning he won't feature against his previous employers.
- Gary Hooper (calf) and Jonny Howson (knee) are still out of contention, but both are back in training and making progress.
- In his press conference, Neil Adams noted that Leroy Fer would be in the squad, although as I type this rumours are gathering steam about the dutchman having a medical today at Queens Park Rangers, so it'll be interesting to see what happens when the teams are announced.
- Andrew Surman has been rumoured with a return to Bournemouth where he spent last season on loan, but Adams has squashed that for now. Also, he's keeping mum about the possible acquisitions of Cameron Jerome and Carlos Cuellar.
- Ex-Norwich striker Chris Brown won't be making the trip to his old stomping ground thanks to a knee injury.
- Tommy Spurr and Matthew Kilgallon will also miss out for groin and back problems respectively.
More on the opponent
Blackburn have started pretty strongly in what is their 3rd consecutive season in the Championship.
They opened the campaign on the first Friday of the season with a battling 1-1 draw with recently relegated Cardiff before putting away Lancashire rivals Blackpool 2-1 over the weekend. They did suffer an early Capital One Cup exit to Scunthorpe, but like many sides at this level they'll be more interested in pursuing a possible push for the play-offs anyway.
Somehow they keep holding on to highly coveted striker Jordan Rhodes, and that could be the key to an assault on the upper echelons of the division. Manager Gary Bowyer has steadied the ship and supporter unrest has gradually calmed down from the days of Steve Kean and the Venky's protests.
- Chris Brown made 18 appearances for Norwich in the 2007-08 season, scoring once.
- Martin Olsson signed for Norwich from Blackburn in the summer of 2013 for a fee in the region of £2million. His brother Marcus still plays for the latter.
- Mark Bunn joined Norwich after a four-year spell at Blackburn in 2012 for an undisclosed fee.
- Kyle Lafferty spent 3-years at Rovers' fierce rivals Burnley, scoring 10 times in 83 appearances.
- Jordan Rhodes was an Ipswich Town youth prospect. Current Norwich manager Neil Adams was once a team-mate of his father Andy Rhodes at Oldham Athletic.
W - 3-0 v Watford (H)
L - 0-1 v Wolves (A)
D - 2-2 v Celta Vigo (H)
W - 5-1 v OGC Nice (H)
D - 1-1 v SC Bastia (A)
City's win over Watford was their first in competitive football since March in the Premier League, and a good way to bounce back from the disappointment of the opening day fixture with Wolves.
W - 1-2 v Blackpool (A)
L - 0-1 v Scunthorpe United (H)
D - 1-1 v Cardiff City (H)
D - 1-1 v Stoke City (H)
D - 1-1 v Bury (A)
Rovers have picked up 4 out of their first 6 points in the league in spite of the cup upset. Rudy Gestede leads the way on the goal trail with them after his brace against Blackpool.
Last time they met
- The Carrow Road faithful were treated to a six-goal thriller when these two last met in Norfolk, with Norwich coming back from 3-1 down to tie the game in stoppage time.
- A superb 20-yard finish from Junior Hoilett gave Steve Kean's side the advantage before a cracking effort from City's Steve Morison cancelled it out. 1-1, all to play for for Paul Lambert's side.
- Then a John Ruddy error allowed Yakubu to put Rovers back in the ascendency, before Christopher Samba headed home their third on 64 minutes.
- However, Norwich pressed on and a deflected Bradley Johnson shot pulled it back to 3-2, before Rovers were left to mull over a controversial penalty decision given against them in stoppage time.
- Steven Nzonzi was adjudged to have handled, though closer inspection reveals the decision was pretty harsh. Grant Holt dispatched the spot-kick despite the best efforts of Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal, and Norwich picked up a plucky point, when truth be told the visitors probably deserved to get more out of the game.
- The reverse fixture in April 2012 saw Rovers fighting for the Premier League lives while City were pretty much home and dry. Goals from Mauro Formica and a stunning effort from Junior Hoilett saw the Lancastrians run out 2-0 victors. In the end, Rovers were still relegated by the season's end.
- Blackburn haven't lost against Norwich in the last TEN competitive meetings.
What's in store this time?
Back to back home wins will be difficult but not impossible, and it would only further serve to boost morale following the Watford game last week. Then there's the small matter of our nearest and dearest on the A140, but that's another preview for another day.