It’s the first match of the New Year, and Rovers will be hoping to start 2022 how they ended the previous year as Huddersfield Town come to Lancashire. Daniel Ainsworth previews the match below.
After four wins out of four through December, Rovers enter the New Year sat level on points with second-placed Fulham, the same side that thrashed them 7-0 around two months ago.
Ben Brereton Diaz became the quickest player for 57 years to reach twenty goals by the turn of the year, scoring in the victory over Barnsley last time out, and now the Chilean sets his sights on Ivan Toney’s record of 31 goals in a Championship season (since 2004).
The visitors come in the form of Huddersfield Town, who are alongside Rovers in terms of being the surprise package of the season so far, with Carlos Corberan’s side sat sixth in the league table, increasing the importance of the match.
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Corberan’s side had the better of Rovers in the reverse fixture, although Danny Ward – who scored twice on that September evening – is a doubt after being withdrawn in Huddersfield’s previous match.
It should be a tough match for Rovers, and as evident in the Barnsley match, the key men in this side may be needed when the match becomes tight.
Joe Rothwell got himself on the scoresheet on Wednesday night, taking his goal contributions to nine for the season. The midfielder has been key to Rovers’ performances this season, with the former Manchester United man able to unlock defences with his driving runs.
His midfield partner John Buckley picked up two assists on the same night, and the talented youngster has been one of Rovers’ best players this season. His ability to dispossess the opposition and find the best option with his expansive passing range makes him a guaranteed starter currently.
It is expected that Rovers will keep the same side given the success in recent works, but with just four days since the previous match, we could see Reda Khadra rested in favour of Sam Gallagher.
The 26-year-old forward put pen to paper on a new deal at the club on Saturday morning, and he has been limited to appearances off the bench in recent weeks, meaning a start could be just around the corner.
Huddersfield’s performances this season mean they could come and attack from the start, which would benefit Rovers given the team’s preference to hit teams on the counter attack this season, and this could be the deciding factor.
It will be tough, but I’m backing Rovers to make it seven wins in a row.
Enjoy the match if you’re attending, or watching from home or elsewhere.
Predicted XI: Kaminski, Nyambe, Lenihan, van Hecke, Wharton, Pickering, Travis, Rothwell, Buckley, Gallagher, Brereton Diaz
Prediction: Rovers 2-1 Huddersfield Town