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Spurs could find little to cheer in Sam's Town

PUBLISHED: 17:01 16 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:37 07 September 2010

Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce watches against Fulham during their Premier League football match at Craven Cottage in London, on March 11, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Chris Ratcliffe  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo (Photo credit should read CHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce watches against Fulham during their Premier League football match at Craven Cottage in London, on March 11, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Chris Ratcliffe FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo (Photo credit should read CHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images)

2009 AFP

ARGUABLY the worst insult that can be thrown at football fans is the allegation that their beloved team are boring – and Rovers fans are struggling for a defence at the moment...

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW

Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham

By Ben Pearce

ARGUABLY the worst insult that can be thrown at football fans is the allegation that their beloved team are boring - and Rovers fans are struggling for a defence at the moment.

Before Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, Blackburn had forced dreary stalemates in their last three league games, tying all of them 0-0 and mercilessly inflicting bore draws on opposing fans as well as their own suffering supporters.

Hopefully the brave Tottenham fans who travel up to Lancashire won't suffer the same fate, but another drab draw is certainly possible.

In fairness, the ardent Ewood Park faithful enjoyed a riveting Carling Cup match recently - a 3-3 thriller with Chelsea, which ended in a penalty shootout victory and progress to the semi-finals.

However, that game apparently fulfilled the fun quota for the month. Since then, Rovers have held Liverpool to a goalless draw at home before repeating the feat away at Hull.

That leaves Sam Allardyce's side comfortably in mid-table, relatively clear of danger but with little hope of a European place this season.

Everything about Rovers screams dull mediocrity, but that is Allardyce's call-sign. Wherever he has been, Big Sam has promised solidarity, safety and security. Both Bolton and Newcastle learned the value of Allardyce's ugly pragmatism after they left, as they both plumetted into the relegation dogfight.

With the trapdoor looming large below them, Blackburn turned to Big Sam exactly one year ago. Since then, the boss has built another resilient, hardworking outfit in his own image and is sure to survive again this time around - doubtless frustrating many of the bigger, prettier teams along the way.

Blackburn are, in many ways, the flag-bearing Jekyll and Hyde team - dreadful on the road but formidable inside their own bastion of power.

Rovers have lost seven out of their nine league matches on their travels, shipping 23 goals, but have only lost one of their 10 games at Ewood Park this season in all competitions. Only four top-flight teams have a better defensive record in front of their own fans.

While Blackburn do little to thrill neutral football fans, it would be churlish not to commend that resilience. And, having strangled Liverpool in their last home game, Rovers will be confident of choking Spurs on Saturday.

Gallingly for Lilywhites fans, two members of Rovers' rearguard are Tottenham rejects - Paul Robinson and Pascal Chimbonda.

Tottenham supporters will also be wary of centre-back Chris Samba, whose physical presence as a makeshift stiker inspired Rovers to their late 2-1 victory in the corresponding fixture last season.

JournalSport verdict: Tottenham have won just one of their last nine trips to Ewood Park, and Allardyce will happily take a point against Harry Redknapp's top-four pretenders on this occasion.

The Blackburn boss will have observed how successful Stoke and Wolves were when they set up their stall and frustrated Spurs - both kept clean sheets at White Hart Lane and ended up winning the game.

He is sure to adopt a similar approach, starving the likes of Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe of space.

Meanwhile, dominant centre-backs Samba and Ryan Nelsen won't be overly concerned about the prospect of an aerial duel with Peter Crouch. In fact, a direct approach from Spurs would probably play to Blackburn's strengths.

Rovers are likely to be conservative at the other end because Spurs thrive on the counter-attack, but the hosts will hope to exploit Tottenham's recent weakness from set pieces. Unfortunately, it could well work.

Prediction: 1-1


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