Blackburn in December – travel in hope

It will be a long journey on a cold day. We salute those who are prepared to make it and we wish them well. It is hard to be optimistic, however.

After a sluggish start to the season which included home defeats by Wimbledon and Doncaster, Blackburn are now showing the sort of form which makes them look like the automatic promotion team many predicted they would be. Since losing 0-1 at Oldham on 14th October they have gone on an unbeaten run of nine games which includes seven wins. In doing so they have scored 22 goals and conceded 10. They have won their last five league games. In contrast, Charlton have won four, drawn three and lost two with a goal difference of 10-9.

Blackburn have four players who have scored eight goals so far this season - Marcus Antonsson, Bradley Dack, Charley Mulgrew and Dominic Samuel. Charlton's leading scorer on seven (Tariqe Fosu-Henry) will not be available. Ricky Holmes has six and Josh Magennis's five come at a rate of one every 324 minutes.

This is the first meeting of the two clubs at third tier level since the 1974/75 season when both were promoted. Charlton won 2-1 at The Valley in early December 1974 (Hales and Horsfield) but Blackburn got their revenge 3-1 (Bowman penalty) at Ewood Park the following month on their way to becoming champions. The attendance at that game (12,999) is likely to be getting on for 3000 more than will be present on Saturday, as many Rovers fans are as disillusioned with their absent owners (Venky's) as are many Charlton fans with Duchatelet.

However Charlton's record against Blackburn is not as bad as it may seem. Although we have lost four of the last five encounters we did record two victories at Ewood Park in 2013. In January we beat them 2-1 with goals from Stephens and Kermorgant and we returned in October for a Simon Church goal to give us a 1-0 win. Leon Best was playing for Blackburn that day and we wonder whether he might start for us on this weekend given Magennis's sluggishness of late.

With Portsmouth hosting Bury at Fratton Park on Saturday it is quite possible that Charlton could drop out of the top six. Recent games have emphasised what many feared at the start of the season - that our squad is not quite strong or deep enough to mount a sustained challenge. A 0-0 draw would be quite an achievement and would keep us on the cusp ready for Blackpool on December 23rd.