Blackburn Rovers are well and truly in the hunt for a place in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs as they sit just three points behind Lancashire rivals Preston North End, who occupy sixth.
Rovers are currently 10th in the division and have an outside chance of crashing their way into the promotion picture, however, with a handful of teams above them it might prove difficult for Tony Mowbray’s side to earn a chance of a return to the Premier League.
Mowbray’s men have conceded on 45 occasions so far this season, with that stat matching or in some cases being better than the sides around them. Bristol City (53) and Cardiff City (50) have conceded more goals than Rovers whereas Preston and Swansea currently sit equal with Blackburn in the goals against column.
Tosin Adarabioyo was drafted in from Manchester City back in the summer and has been a mainstay in the Rovers defence, playing as a centre-half for the majority of the campaign alongside Ryan Nyambe or Darragh Lenihan in recent weeks. The loanee has impressed during his second loan spell away from the Etihad Stadium, the former England youth international spent last season with West Bromwich Albion as he helped them reach the Championship play-offs.
Adarabioyo has made 27 appearances so far for Blackburn in the Sky Bet Championship, racking up 2517 minutes in the process which has benefited the young central defender this season. He was very in and out of the side at West Brom last campaign with Blackburn reaping the rewards of giving him an extended run in the side.
The centre-half has been at the heart of Blackburn trying to implement a new philosophy this season, one which matches this parent club under Pep Guardiola. Mowbray has demanded that the ball should be played out from the centre-backs and into a midfielder to turn and cause problems going forward and Adarabioyo has excelled in this style of football having recorded an 86% pass accuracy in the Championship this campaign.
On several occasions the Blackburn defender has made the step into midfield during the 90 minutes and has looked comfortable gliding past opposing players, perhaps where he will need to improve to stand a chance in making an impact on the Manchester City side is his ability to dribble into midfield successfully with his success rate at just 62.5%
However, it is not just his ability on the ball that has caught the eye from his second loan spell away from the current Premier League champions, Adarabioyo has become much better physically and had massively benefited from his previous loan spell in men’s football. The commanding defender has won 70.9% of his aerial duals in the Championship which is impressive when the calibre of his opponent is considered. Some of the Championship’s most effective target men have struggled to cause Adarabioyo problems both in the air and on the grass, which has resulted in Blackburn’s increased optimism at the end of the season.
Mentally he seems to have made an impressive improvement with his ability to read the game improving all the time, this has shown in his ability to understand opposing forward’s movement which has helped him make 181 interceptions so far this season. This will undoubtedly come as good news to Guardiola has, he demands that his players win the ball back within six seconds of losing possession with his defenders making vital interceptions to stop counter attacks.