It’s probably fair to say that it’s been something of a mixed start to the 2020/21 Championship season for Blackburn Rovers.
With four wins and five defeats from their 11 league games so far this season, Tony Mowbray’s sit pretty much right in the middle of the Championship table in 12th, five points off the top six, and seven clear of the bottom three.
But just why is it that Blackburn’s season has payed out in the way that it has so far, with Rovers looking to mount a sustained push for a play-off place this season?
Here, we’ve taken a look at three trends we’ve seen emerge from Ewood Park during the early part of this season.
Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
One big issue that Rovers have had to cope with so far this season, is the sheer number of first-team players who have been absent at one time or another.
The talismanic Bradley Dack remains as yet unavailable due to the injury he suffered at the back end of last season, and the injuries have continued to pile up this season, with midfield enforcer Lewis Travis and club captain Elliott Bennett now also long-term absences, while several other key players, including top scorer Adam Armstrong and first-choice ‘keeper Thomas Kaminski have spent time on the sidelines.
Mowbray’s selection cause has not been helped by the fact that six players: Derrick Williams, Joe Rothwell, Barry Douglas, Amari’i Bell, Bradley Johnson and now Thomas Kaminski, have been forced to self-isolate at some point.
As a result, only Ben Brereton has started all 11 league games so far this season, and that lack of stability around the starting XI has noticeably hampered Rovers at times, meaning they will be hoping for a much cleaner bill of health once the action resumes after the November international break.
Can you get 18/18 on our big Blackburn Rovers quiz?
Youth steps up
With so many of Rovers more experienced and established players spending spells on the sidelines, it has often fallen to the club’s younger players to stand up and be counted.
Indeed, of the ten outfield players that started Rovers’ 3-1 over QPR last time out, only 33-year-old Bradley Johnson and 30-year-old Corry Evans were over the age of 26, and the latter was forced off with injury inside a few minutes, to be replaced by 21-year-old John Buckley, with the use of so many young players a regular occurrence for Mowbray this season.
It is also worth noting that all four of Rovers’ defensive line in that game – Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Scott Wharton and Joe Rankin-Costello – are graduates of the club’s academy.
Rovers’ academy is something the club have put plenty into recent years, something that now looks to be paying off, an with plenty more young players pushing for first-team chances, the future looks bright for Rovers in that respect.
A ruthlessness in front of goal
Given opposition sides have kept clean sheets against Blackburn in four out of the 11 league games they have played this season, it is remarkable that Rovers have scored four more league goals than any other Championship team.
The main reason for that, is once Rovers start scoring, they rarely stop. Although they have failed to score on four occasions, they have only once finished a game with just one goal to their name – a 3-1 defeat at Watford.
Even in defeats to Bournemouth and Reading they managed to score twice, while the three they scored against QPR is the fewest they have scored in victory, putting in four against Derby and Coventry, and running in five against Wycombe.
It seems therefore, that once Blackburn find their range in a game, they are always going to be a threat from then on in, meaning if teams are to have anything like a comfortable time against Tony Mowbray’s side, they can ill afford to give even so much as a sniff at goal.