Blackburn hold on at Pride Park
Ben Brereton Diaz's first-half double gave Blackburn a deserved 2-1 win against Derby at Pride Park on Saturday. Victory was built on a fine opening 45-minute performance where Rovers could and should have made the game safe having created a string of opportunities before conceding a late goal and being forced to hang on in the dying embers.
Derby hit the post and missed a great chance to level proceedings late on, and Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray admitted it was relief, rather than celebrations, in the away dressing room post-match. He said, "First half I think it was similar to last year and we should have scored two or three more goals and yet we didn't and we ended up hanging on at the death."
The triumph was Rovers' first on their travels since August and pushed Mowbray's men to within a point of the top-six positions ahead of the midweek action. The Blackburn manager could shuffle his pack again here with fellow defenders Ryan Nyambe and Daniel Ayala again major doubts. John Buckley may continue to fill-in at right-back for Rovers.
Mitrovic inspires Fulham success
Aleksandar Mitrovic netted a hat-trick as Fulham secured a vital 3-0 win against promotion rivals West Brom in Saturday's standout Championship clash. The Whites were two goals up by half-time courtesy of a controversial penalty, before the Serbian hitman took full advantage of a weak back pass from Albion's Robert Snodgrass to slot home the second.
West Brom were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes remaining and Mitrovic sealed the victory by tapping in from close range - his 18th goal of the season. However, Fulham were themselves reduced to 10 men five minutes from time when Tosin Adarabioyo was sent off for a reckless studs-up challenge, but by then the result was already safe.
Cottagers' chief Marco Silva was naturally delighted with the result, saying: "I am really pleased, not just because we won the game, but the way we won. I told my players after the match that they were brilliant. Everything I asked them - our plan - they did it in the way we prepared and they enjoyed it." Michael Hector is expected to return at centre-back here.
Blackburn have endured a difficult recent run against Fulham with Rovers pocketing just one win in their last six meetings with the Cottagers (W1-D1-L4). The Whites have also won on their last two trips to Ewood Park, although the visitors have traditionally found the going tough in Lancashire, returning W2-D2-L7 in 11 away days here going back to 2005.
Blackburn 4.10 have recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this season and Tony Mowbray's troops have bagged W4-D2-L1 at Ewood Park. However, the hosts are winless against top-half teams this term (W0-D4-L4) and have conceded multiple goals in five of those eight fixtures. Rovers have W2-D5-L7 when welcoming top-six teams since 2019/20.
Fulham 1.981/1 have earned four straight successes since October's international break, scoring 13 goals in the process. The Cottagers have kept their sheets clean in each of their last three outings and comfortably head the Championship rankings for Expected Points (xP). The Whites are generating 2.00 Expected Goals (xG) per-game on average thus far.
With Blackburn rated inside the top-eight for non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG), Rovers scoring in 24 of their past 30 home Championship contests, and Ben Brereton Diaz in fine form, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see the hosts get on the scoresheet and play their part in a potentially exciting and entertaining encounter from Ewood Park.
Over 2.5 Goals can be backed at 1.9110/11 but a more appealing play is to support Fulham to win and Over 1.5 Goals at 2.245/4 via the Bet Builder. Rovers have managed only three clean sheets this season and will need to be at their very best to halt a rampant Cottagers team that's led by the division's top goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The Whites have won 10 of their 15 league matches since relegation, with Marco Silva's men scoring Over 1.5 Goals in each victory. In fact, just one of Fulham's fixtures thus far have produced fewer than two goals, with games averaging a bulbous 3.33 goals.