International Break Hangover

Ahead of the return to club football this week, @barryshoz82 looks at how Rovers have performed after previous international breaks.

Damien Duff grabbed Rovers’ first and sixth goals when Rovers beat this weekend’s opponents, Rochdale, in a League Cup 1st round tie in 2000.

Rovers return to action after a 11 day break, due to the dreaded international breaks, but how have Rovers fared after international breaks?

Seventeen years to this day, 12,977 turned up in midweek at Ewood Park in the 1st round of the League Cup to watch Rovers play this weekend’s opponents Rochdale, and the Blue and Whites beat them 6 – 1.

This was thanks to a hat-trick of penalties from cult hero David Dunn, a brace from Damien Duff and a collectors’ item from Kaba Diawara. How times have changed, that they will play them for the first time in the same division for nearly 44 years!!

Optimism has increased over the past few league games, and with a bumper away crowd expected (currently over 2,500), the fans will be hoping to be travelling back from Spotland (now know as the Crown Oil Arena for sponsorship reasons) with 3 points in the bag at 5pm on Saturday.

But the timing of the game could be a grave issue, and this will come as a major surprise to the Blue and White fans.

The first game after the traditional September international week has proven to be a massive hoodoo for Rovers, especially away from home, and the stats massively back this up.

In the past 20 years, they have played 12 away games the first Saturday after the break, and the stats aren’t great.

Played – 12

Won – 1

Drawn – 7

Lost – 4

Goals (in the 12 away games) – 11

The one exception of this set of results was on 15th September 2012, when Steve Kean took Rovers to Bristol City.  New £8 million signing Jordan Rhodes scored a brace, his first and second of the 28 he scored for the season, in an entertaining 5 – 3 win at Ashton Gate.

Otherwise, Rovers have struggled massively to not only win, but also score. Taking the five goals scored against The Robins, Rovers have only scored 6 goals in the other 11 away games in the past 20 years. The five they scored is the only time they have put more than one past any of these teams.

As per the stats, seven draws (four 1 – 1 results, and three 0 – 0 results) have proven to be the most common results. Although, Rovers can look at goalless away draws against Chelsea and Manchester City, and also the last time we got a result against fierce rivals Burnley in 2013, a late Jordan Rhodes goal saving Rovers’ blushes in a 1 – 1 draw.

The bad luck has continued this week. After managing to successfully keep hold of Lenihan and Mulgrew in the transfer window in what can only be seen as a coup, Lenihan joined the long term injury list with a broken foot, and Mulgrew came off with an injury playing for Scotland against Malta. Thankfully, the latter is not as bad as first thought, and Mulgrew should be in contention for the weekend.

All in all, this local derby with Rochdale this Saturday is a chance for Rovers to continue the good form in the league. Missing a League 1 game last weekend for the international break has stretched the gap at the top, and this is a must win game for Rovers. If the past 20 years has any bearing on the game, it might not be what the team and the fans want, but this may be a low scoring game, and history points to a draw. However, stats can go out of the window when there’s a game, and we’ll be hoping that happens this weekend. Rovers will be hoping to buck the trend and continue their march towards promotion.

Let’s hope we can make our own luck this season!!

Come on you Blues, and safe travels to anyone making the trip to the Crown Oil Arena this weekend.