Blackburn Rovers match preview

Barclays Premier League
Blackburn Rovers v West Ham United
Sunday 9 December
Kick-off: 4pm
Referee: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)

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Team news

Lee Bowyer and Mark Noble are bidding for a place in the 16 after missing out on the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea. Both have had hernia operations recently with Curbishley admitting Bowyer was "touch and go" while the return of Scott Parker and the form of Hayden Mullins has left Noble facing stiff competition. The manager will also have to decide whether to hand Freddie Ljungberg and Dean Ashton starting roles after coming off the bench last weekend. James Collins is also waiting in the wings behind Matthew Upson and Danny Gabbidon.

With the treatment room clearing, the squad has been further boosted by the arrival of France winger Julien Faubert to Chadwell Heath to continue his rehabilitation from an achilles injury while Anton Ferdinand is closing on a training return after hamstring trouble. Bobby Zamora has made progress with his knee problems and there are hopes he could be back in training before the end of the year while Craig Bellamy's abdominal injury continues to keep him out.

Carlton Cole is one caution away from a one-game ban. Captain Lucas Neill will return to the club where he made 227 appearances between September 2001 and January 2007.

Blackburn will be without in-form midfielder David Bentley after he picked up his fifth caution of the campaign in scoring two goals in last Saturday's 3-1 home win against Newcastle United - while defender Ryan Nelsen also completes his three-match suspension. Blackburn have no injury problems though with Steven Reid and Robbie Savage both coming back from long-term absences.

Just 19 players have been used by the club in the Barclays Premier League this season, the fewest total of any of the 20 participating teams. That settled squad has led to plenty of competition for places. Not least in attack with Matt Derbyshire and Jason Roberts itching to get in ahead of established duo Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz.


This fixture last season was crucial to West Ham United's survival fight. On 17 March, Rovers took the lead through Christopher Samba's 47th-minute strike. However, Carlos Tevez drew the visitors level with a 71st-minute penalty before a Bobby Zamora shot struck Tevez on the line four minute later and was adjudged by the referee to have crossed the line. That win was the first of seven in the last nine games of the season for Curbishley's side as they secured survival on the final day of the campaign.

West Ham United go into the game with just one defeat in their last seven games, that reverse at Chelsea that most neutrals felt was harsh on the visitors. The club have not conceded more than two goals in a game since the 3-1 defeat at Newcastle United on 23 September - the longest run of any team in the Barclays Premier League. Curbishley's men go into the game knowing that victory would see them take on Everton in the cup in tenth position in the table and they have still not lost this season in any match where they have taken the lead

A win would also take the club within four points of Blackburn, who themselves are looking to challenge for a place in the top six. Rovers' win last weekend was their first in five Premier League outings but they have a good record against London teams - having not lost to a capital club in eight contests since the home defeat by West Ham United last season. The club go to Wigan Athletic next weekend before their own last-eight date in the Carling Cup against Arsenal on Tuesday 18 December.

George McCartney is bidding to make his 18th appearance this season in all competitions - and is the only West Ham United player who has featured in every game to date, starting in each one. In terms of the Barclays Premier League, only Robert Green and Matthew Upson have played every minute of the 14 matches. Bowyer is the club's top league scorer with four goals, while Matthew Etherington has three in the top-flight this campaign. Cole has six assists to his name.

McCarthy is Blackburn's leading scorer this season with eight goals, five in the top flight. Only Brad Friedel has featured in every minute of the club's league and cup games this season.

Head to head (Last six Premier League meetings)

17 March 2007 - Blackburn Rovers 1-2 West Ham United
29 October 2006 - West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
10 December 2005 - Blackburn Rovers 3-2 West Ham United
13 August 2005 - West Ham United 3-1 Blackburn Rovers
29 January 2003 - West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
28 December 2002 - Blackburn Rovers 2-2 West Ham United

General information

For the latest ticket news, click here. For more information on getting to Ewood Park, click here

Weather: The forecast for Sunday is for a cold and wet day. The temperature is expected to be around 6C.