Blackburn Rovers host Stoke City in the 5th round of the FA Cup at Ewood Park on Saturday afternoon. Rovers overcame Swansea City 3-1 in the previous round but they were aided by two red cards to the visitors. Stoke meanwhile won 3-1 away at Rochdale to reach this stage.
Blackburn have a very busy fixture list this month and they have rotated a fair bit for their FA Cup matches this season. The prices for season-ticket holders have been reduced to counter the problem of low attendances. They have won just three of their last 10 games in the Championship and have fallen 10 points off the last play-off spot with a goal difference of zero. A 2-1 win over Rotherham in the last match will raise morale a bit, though they have won their last three games at home.
Stoke City are comfortably in mid table though a 4-1 loss at home against Manchester City on Wednesday night will be painful, and the Potters have a day less to prepare for the cup competition. They were unbeaten in four games before that and will look to progress to the next round of the FA Cup with nothing else to play for this season. Mark Hughes will be hoping to overcome his former club where he was a manager for four years before taking over Manchester City.
Midfielder Jason Lowe is the only major injury concern after suffering a recurrence of the foot injury that has seen him miss the last 18 league matches this season.
Ryan Shawcross is out for another two weeks as he recovers from a back injury while Erik Pieters and Marc Wilson are out with groin injuries. Stephen Ireland, Bojan Krkic and Peter Odemwingie will also miss out with the latter two suffering from knee injuries.
Last five meetings
2012 02 Jan Blackburn Rovers 1 – 2 Stoke City Premier League
26 Nov 20111 Stoke City 3 – 1 Blackburn Rovers Premier League
26 Dec 2010 Blackburn Rovers 0 – 2 Stoke City Premier League
02 Oct 2009 Stoke City 1 – 0 Blackburn Rovers Premier League
06 Feb 2009 Stoke City 3 – 0 Blackburn Rovers Premier League
Blackburn Rovers: 4-4-2: Eastwood; Lowe, Duffy, Kilgallon, Olsson; Taylor, Evans, Spearing, Marshall; Gestede, Rhodes
Stoke City: 4-2-3-1: Begovic; Bardsley, Muniesa, Wollscheid, Wilson; N’Zonzi, Whelan; Moses, Walters, Diouf, Crouch
Blackburn have twice the amount of set pieces goals (12) than Stoke City (6) in league matches.
Blackburn have won 38 of the 86 meetings between the two sides since 1888 with Stoke winning 34.
Stoke City win a league high 25 aerial duels per game.
Peter Crouch has scored 8 Premier League goals against Blackburn, more than against any other side.
Blackburn Rovers: Rudy Gestede
The Frenchman leads the charts for the Champions side with 12 goals so far, one more than strike partner Jordan Rhodes. The 1.93 m tall striker averages 8.8 aerial duels per game and attempts 3.1 shots every 90 minutes. The 26-year-old was linked with a move to Crystal Palace in the winter transfer window but, Gary Bowyer will be glad the he stayed with Rovers having an outside chance to make the play off spots. Having scored against Swansea in the last round, Gestede will be hoping to claim the scalp of another Premier League side.
Stoke City: Peter Crouch
Crouch has scored in his last two appearances and is in a good nick of form before the upcoming game at Ewood Park where he scored twice in Stoke’s 2-1 win. He is second behind Jonathan Walters in Stoke’s scoring charts this season with six goals though the lanky striker wins a remarkable 5 aerial duels per game. He scored a stooping header in his side’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday and will once again be a threat going forward while helping out his side defensively. The 42 times capped England international will be a real handful for the home side on Saturday and they will have to be wary of the threat he possess in the air as well as alert to his knock-ons.
Blackburn have already overcome one Premier League opposition at home and their good current form at Ewood Park points to another FA Cup upset.