Manchester United will attempt to stretch their lead in the English Premier League to five points on Apr. 2 when they travel the short distance to Ewood Park in Blackburn to take on the Rovers. United sits in first place in the league table with 73 points from 23 wins, four draws and three losses. They are currently two ahead of cross-town rivals Manchester City who only managed a 3-3 draw with Sunderland on Saturday after scoring two late goals to earn the point.
Blackburn sits close to the other end of the table as they have just 28 points from seven wins, seven draws and 16 losses. They’re in 17th place, but tied in points with Queens Park Rangers and Wigan, who are in the relegation zone. Any amount points from this game will see United increase its lead and Blackburn pull ahead of the relegation zone.
Blackburn should have a little confidence heading into this match since they already beat United earlier this season with a 3-2 win over the reigning champions at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve. This will be the first of three games in a row for United against teams at the lower end of the table as QPR and Wigan are next. These games won’t be easy though since all three of the teams have won two out of their past three games and are all fighting for Premier League survival.
Ferguson knows his team’s in for a tough time over the next few games and Ewood Park has always been a bit of a graveyard for United as they’ve won only twice in their past 11 games in Blackburn. They drew 0-0 there two years ago and it cost them the title and only managed to win there last season thanks to a late penalty by Wayne Rooney.
Ferguson said it’s always been hard to win at Blackburn since it’s more or less a local derby and the games often have a physical edge to them. He said United was lucky enough last season to score the late winner after being behind by a goal and then go on to win the league.
Ferguson will have defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the squad and could use one of them to replace the often-injured and always overrated Rio Ferdinand. Winger Nani is likely to miss the game as are Michael Owen, Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher who are all faced with long-term absences.
Blackburn has two wins, two losses and a draw in their past five games while United has five wins. Blackburn has three wins, a loss and a draw in their last five home games and United has four wins and a draw in their last five on the road.
This is a crucial game for both teams and it should be the usual tough matchup between the two. Look for a close game with United doing just enough to earn all three points.
William Hill has the latest odds of a Blackburn victory at 7/1 with a United win at 2/5 and a draw at 7/2.