Blackburn looking for first win

For the third time in a week Charlton will kick off against a team in the bottom three when they visit Ewood Park on Saturday.  While Rotherham and Huddersfield might have been expected to struggle this season, it is surprising to see Blackburn Rovers still seeking their first win after seven games.

They started the season with a 2-1 defeat by Wolves and then gained 1-1 draws against Huddersfield and Cardiff.  They lost 1-0 at Brighton, drew at home to Bolton 0-0 before losing at Fulham 1-2.  The 2-2 draw they gained at QPR on Wednesday was probably their most impressive display this season but it still left them in 23rd place.  In addition they were dumped out of the League Cup 1-2 at home by Shrewsbury.

In the previous two seasons Blackburn have flirted with the play-off places, although in truth they never quite convinced as a potential top six team. So what has gone wrong this year?   I would suggest that the departure of Rudy Gestede to Aston Villa in the summer has left them seriously deficient as an attacking force, despite the fact that they continue to field Jordan Rhodes up front.  Gestede may be struggling to replace Benteke at Villa but he scored 32 goals in 60 appearances for Blackburn over two years and always looked to be a notch too good for Championship defences. Rhodes is now partnered by summer recruit Bengali-Fode Koita (7 games, 0 goals) or Nathan Delfouneso who, after a season at Blackpool, has scored twice in his seven appearances for Blackburn so far.  Rhodes himself missed three games through injury but scored his second goal of the season at QPR.  He is a proven goalscorer at this level and can boast nearly 150 goals in 260 appearances for Huddersfield and Blackburn since being released by Roy Keane at Ipswich.  Four of those goals were against Charlton last season - two early ones in a routine 2-0 home win and another brace when Rovers beat us 3-1 at The Valley.   Despite his undoubted goalscoring ability and high transfer fee he, like Ross McCormack, has never attracted serious interest from a Premier League club and seems more than satisfied with life in the Championship.

Charlton's last two performances have been very dispiriting.  They have not been able to cope with being favourites. They have looked jaded and ill at ease.  The talisman Tony Watt has lost his magic. Nick Pope, despite his wonder reflex save against Rotherham, is not inspiring confidence.  Will Guy Luzon ring the changes ? It is to be hoped that Diarra will return at centre half. Our new recruit from Everton (Conor McAleny) looked sharp when he came on against Huddersfield and might get a start on the left with Cousins moving inside instead of Ba.  It isn't clear whether Makienok will be fit for Saturday but Watt and Vetokele don't seem to make a very potent combination.

All the signs are that Rovers will manage their first three pointer of the season, but maybe, with a bit of application, we can force a 0-0.