The fight for Premier League survival is looking tighter than Mancini’s scarf in winter and it could potentially all come down to goal difference
The fight for Premier League survival is looking tighter than Mancini’s scarf in winter and it could potentially all come down to goal difference. Blackburn’s Yakubu is scoring more frequently than Chelsea change managers, but a leaky defence means Rovers remain in deep trouble. So, what is the point in feeding the Yak if you can’t defend at the back?
Blackburn’s stand-out problem over the last few seasons has been a lack of goal scorers. Their top scorers last season – Hoilett, Kalinic and Roberts – got just five each: Enter Yakubu.
The Yak was brought in out of the wilderness by the much criticised Steve Kean on deadline day, and he is the first Blackburn player to notch a double figure goal tally in one season since Benny McCarthy in 2008/09, firing 16 Premier League goals to date this season. That is more than Adebayor, Dzeko and Balotelli; it is also more than big money signings Torres and Carroll total together in all competitions this season so far! ‘Feed the Yak and he will score’, chant the Rovers fans. Problem solved then, right?
Wrong. Blackburn have conceded a whopping 70 goals so far this season, the second highest in the Premier League - just three less than doomed Wolves – and amongst all this, Rovers nonsensically sold super Samba - Captain, defensive rock and man mountain - in January and failed to sign a suitable replacement.
Blackburn’s goal difference (-25) is slightly better than that of relegation rivals Wigan (-26) and Bolton (-29): Yak’s goals have been crucial in achieving this, even in defeat. For example, his goals in Rovers recent loss to Liverpool meant Rovers goal difference became what it currently is, rather than minus 27. It would be a cruel blow to see any team getting relegated on goal difference, but it is a very real possibility this season and Kean must ram this message home to his players.
It is clear that Rovers desperately need to tighten up their defence (this obvious fact was even recognised by Kean himself recently). However, even the most optimistic Rovers fan will tell you there is more chance of Kean being named Manager of the Year than this happening. The reality is then that Rovers will lose the majority of their remaining six games - they just need to hope that the teams around them lose more.
If Blackburn are to become only the second team to stay up after being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas, they must continue to score – even in games they may go on to lose – so they can finish the season with a better goal difference than their fellow relegation contenders. Yak’s goals may be the difference between Premier League or Championship football next season.