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In opposition: Blackburn Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers

3 October 2012

Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers both harbour ambitions of promotion, after relegation from the top flight last term, and they go head-to-head at Ewood Park this weekend. 

Here, we preview the game with the help of a supporter from each club.



Name: Mike Delap.

Club: Blackburn Rovers.

Number of years as a supporter: Far too many - 20.

Favourite moment as a fan: Apart from the very obvious one from the 90s, it was an absolute honour and a privilege to witness the on-field exploits of the majestic Tugay. One of the most underrated footballers of all time.

How many games a season do you attend? Home - about seven or eight. Away - roughly four or five. Basically, as many as work and the better half allows.


Name: Thomas Baugh.

Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Number of years as a supporter: 23 (roughly).

Favourite moment as a fan: Probably Stephen Hunt's goal on Survival Sunday the season before last, funnily enough against Blackburn. It was such an up-and-down season, but staying up meant everything, particularly as it relegated Birmingham City. Obviously both us and Blackburn paid dearly for that moment of enjoyment last season.

How many games a season do you attend? All home and a handful of away games.



What happened in your last match?

MD: It was a very strange affair less than 24 hours after the sacking of Steve Kean. It was a party atmosphere but a time of huge uncertainty and that mixture contributed to a very disjointed performance. Ultimately a 1-1 draw away at Charlton Athletic in the circumstances wasn't such a bad outcome. After taking the lead through Dickson Etuhu we sat back and stuck to a defensive system that Charlton took advantage of. On the balance of the game, no-one would have argued if Charlton had got more from the game than they did.

TB: Edged out at home to Crystal Palace by a wonderful brace from Wilfried Zaha. He's a very special talent. Wolves weren't great but could easily have won the game had it not been for the young winger. Fortunately, not many teams in this league have a player of his quality, so I'm not too despondent. We did pick up injuries though, which could hurt us in the weeks to come.

Why is this game important?

MD: Because it's the start of a new era, the first game at home post-Steve Kean and the crowd needs a reason to feel optimistic. It's a chance to start afresh with at least 2,000 extra fans in the stands after ending their Kean-related boycott.

It's also important due to our opponents jumping above us in the league table last weekend, a win for Wolves would see them open up a gap ahead of us whilst a win for our boys would help us keep in touch.

TB: Well, ahead of the international break we want to continue putting points on the board to keep up with the chasing pack at the top. Blackburn will be there or there abouts I would have thought, so we certainly don't want to lose.

How do you see this game going?

MD: I imagine it will be fairly cagey to start with but both sides have quality players, so I would expect that quality to contribute to goals for both sides. Wolves have Kevin Doyle, Bakary Sako and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Rovers have Jordan Rhodes, Nuno Gomes and Martin Olsson. Given our shaky defence, yet our abundance of attacking talent, I can see it becoming more open as the game wears on.

TB: I think it's going to be tough for Wolves. Rumours are that many Blackburn fans will return to Ewood after Kean's sacking, so I think the players will feed off that positive energy. We need to be strong, compact and disciplined to see off their strong attacking players.

Who should we keep our eye on?

MD: Rovers have some technically-gifted young players. If they make an appearance, keep an eye out for Fabio Nunes and Ruben Rochina, two players who can turn a game on it's head given the right service and circumstances. As an impact sub, Rochina in particular is a potential match-winner.

TB: Bakary Sako has been superb thus far and had a real influence in every game he's played. He's the type of player who can do nothing for an hour and then conjure up a piece of magic. Other than him, big Tongo Doumbia in the middle of the park has the ability to boss games. If he turns it on, it's very difficult for the opposition to dictate the play.

Any memories of previous encounters?

MD: The 5-1 win on the opening day in the early 2000s, new signing Brett Emerton looked phenomenal. Also the 3-2 final day love-in after both sides retained Premier League status two seasons ago - a brilliant atmosphere.

TB: It has to be the Survival Sunday epic. Blackburn 3-0 up at half-time and cruising towards safety. Wolves somehow pull it back to 3-2 to ensure they too will stay up. Seeing both sets of fans celebrate at the full-time whistle was surreal, to say the very least. I also recall a 5-1 they inflicted on us in our very first Premier League match. That hurt.

Score prediction?

MD: I'm going to put us down for the right start in a fresh start. 3-2 to Rovers.

TB: With a heavy heart I think we're going to lose out narrowly. The combination of injuries and the timing of the fixture with Kean leaving has made me pessimistic. I'll say 2-1 Blackburn and hope that my team prove me wrong.

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