Blackburn Rovers preview

Barclays Premier League
West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers
Boleyn Ground
Saturday 30 August
Referee: Mike Riley

WHUTV - Full audio commentary


* Alan Curbishley welcomes back a number of players to the squad that beat Macclesfield Town 4-1 on Wednesday night for the visit of Paul Ince's Blackburn Rovers. West Ham United are looking to make it three home wins in three in all competitions while Rovers are aiming for their second away win of the campaign.

* Curbishley said: "Paul has had a decent start and I am pleased that someone has been promoted from the lower leagues into the Premier League. Finishing as a player, going into the lower leagues to cut your teeth and then get moved up. That used to be the route. I think it is hopefully a positive move and we are going to get some more young managers coming through. He has had a decent start and we look forward to the game."

* Ince, speaking to Blackburn's official website, said: "It isn't about West Ham and Paul Ince and what reaction I get; it's about my players going out there and putting in a performance and coming away with some points. I started there as a player and it will be a proud moment going back there as a manager. I was at the club from the age of nine so of course I want them to do well, but not this Saturday."

* Both teams go into the match having put four past lower-league opposition in the Carling Cup second round in midweek. United saw off the challenge of Macclesfield Town after extra time while Rovers beat Grimsby Town by the same scoreline.

* A win for the home side on Saturday would take them to six points from three games and be their best start to a top-flight campaign in nine years. If Rovers triumph it would take them to seven points and be their best start to a league season since 1997.

* In the teams' two meetings last term, United came out on top, winning 1-0 at Ewood Park in December followed up by a 2-1 win at the Boleyn Ground in March.

* Dean Ashton enjoyed a good return against Rovers in those games. He scored the only goal in the away win and then notched the first in the 2-1 victory in east London.

* West Ham United have enjoyed recent good fortune against the Lancashire club, winning the last five meetings between the sides in all competitions.

* That run included the 2-1 at victory at Ewood Park in March 2007 that kick-started their season and saw them go on to win six of their last eight remaining matches to dramatically avoid relegation.

* However, Blackburn Rovers have also enjoyed playing United in recent times and have scored more Premier League goals against them than any other club (38).

* Both teams enjoy a break next week for the international fixtures, so the next match West Ham United face is a trip to the Hawthorns to play West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 13 September. Rovers will face Arsenal at Ewood Park on the same day.

Last time out

Wednesday 27 August - West Ham United 4-1 Macclesfield Town

West Ham United: Green, Behrami (Hines 27), Davenport, Upson, McCartney (Reid 55), Faubert, Mullins, Bowyer, Boa Morte, Ashton, Sears (Cole 58).
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Spence, Widdowson, Parker
Goals: Bowyer 74, Cole 100, Hines 105, Reid 117

Wednesday 27 August - Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Grimsby Town

Blackburn Rovers: Brown, Simpson, Khizanishvili (Judge 67), Treacy, Emerton (Gallagher 70), Mokoena, Tugay, Pederson (Marshall 77), Villanueva, Derbyshire
Subs not used: Robinson, Santa Cruz, Kane, Hodge
Goals: Villanueva 18, Derbyshire 32, Emerton 39, Derbyshire 55

Team news

* Lucas Neill, Scott Parker, Matthew Etherington and Mark Noble, after his one-match midweek ban, are all back in starting contention. Neill is set to face the side he used to captain, before his move to east London. Craig Bellamy could also be set to face his former club with Curbishley admitting the striker is "looking sharp".

* This could mean the manager has plenty of options up front as Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole both featured in the side's midweek win, with the latter having recovered from the knock he received last weekend at Manchester City.

* At the back, Valon Behrami should also be fine after coming off against Macclesfield Town with a broken tooth. Behrami has been playing at right-back so far this season with Neill filling in at left-back, although George McCartney is also available after recovering from a virus.

* Luis Boa Morte will also be pushing to keep his place in the team after an energetic display in the Carling Cup on a night when Lee Bowyer proved key to the victory. Despite being out for more than six months, he played for the full 120 minutes.

* Curbishley should have James Collins and James Tomkins back in contention after the international break.

* Jonathan Spector is due back at Chadwell Heath next month to continue his rehabilitation from hip surgery with Danny Gabbidon (abdominal), Kieron Dyer (double leg break) and Jack Collison (knee) the only other absentees.

* Blackburn Rovers could have two players making their debuts at the Boleyn Ground; Australian international Vince Grella has received clearance and could play alongside fellow new boy Keith Andrew, who has signed from Ince's previous club, MK Dons.

* Another new face, Chilean Carlos Villanueva will look to continue his goalscoring form from their midweek Carling Cup win.


* West Ham United took the spoils in both last season's fixtures. The Ewood Park game on 9 December 2007 ended 1-0 with Dean Ashton, on as a half-time substitute, grabbing the only goal of the game on a chilly Sunday evening in Lancashire.

* Saturday 15 March 2008 saw a slightly more open affair at the Boleyn Ground. Ashton equalised Roque Santa Cruz's early strike with a goal from the edge of the area in the 39th minute. That game, however, may be remembered by many for a slightly different reason as 18-year-old Academy graduate Freddie Sears marked his debut appearance with the winning goal. The substitute followed up his own shot to score with a diving header past Brad Friedel in the 81st minute.

* The lineups for the last meeting were:

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Spector, McCartney, Solano (Sears 75), Parker (Noble 75), Mullins, Ljungberg (Pantsil 88), Ashton, Zamora
Subs not used: Wright, Tomkins
Goals: Ashton 39, Sears 81

Blackburn Rovers: Friedel, Emerton (Khizanishvili 46), Samba, Ooijer, Warnock, Bentley, Reid, Dunn (Derbyshire 71), Pedersen (McCarthy 90), Roberts, Santa Cruz
Subs not used: Brown, Mokoena
Goal: Santa Cruz 19

Head to head (last six meetings, league unless stated)

15 March 2008 - West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
09 December 2007 - Blackburn Rovers 0-1 West Ham United
17 March 2007 - Blackburn Rovers 1-2 West Ham United
29 October 2006 - West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
28 January 2006 - West Ham United 4-2 Blackburn Rovers (FA Cup)
10 December 2005 - Blackburn Rovers 3-2 West Ham United

Overall record v Blackburn Rovers (all competitions): W 40, D 16, L 45

Barclays Premier League fixtures (all 3pm unless stated)

Saturday, 30 August 2008
Arsenal v Newcastle United (5.30pm)
Bolton Wanderers v West Bromwich Albion
Everton v Portsmouth
Hull City v Wigan Athletic
Middlesbrough v Stoke City

Sunday, 31 August 2008
Aston Villa v Liverpool (4pm)
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (1.30pm)
Sunderland v Manchester City (3pm)

General information

For ticket information, click here. For details of getting to the Boleyn Ground, click here.

Weather: The forecast is for a sunny day with some cloud. The temperature is set to peak at around 27C.