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Blackburn Rovers Scouting Report: Set piece specialists out to blunt Huddersfield Town strike force

Paul Lambert's men missing Craig Conway for this weekend's clash

A trip to face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park has not made for a happy Saturday for Huddersfield Town fans down the years.

The last time Town won in that corner of Lancashire was on Boxing Day 1986.

And yet, the present day editions of these two sides bear striking similarities.

Both Town and Rovers are under new management since the last meeting in August - Paul Lambert took over from Gary Bowyer in the same month that David Wagner was unveiled at PPG Canalside.

While the hosts sit 16th in the Championship, three places above Town, just one point separates the two clubs - meaning a win on Saturday would see Wagner's men leapfrog their opponents in the table.

In fact, the pair have identical records over the past four matches, with the form table reading WLLD for each side, and both managers desperate to avoid a fourth game without victory.

But in style, they are poles apart.

Town have shone in the attacking areas, netting 54 goals in 41 league games, but have struggled to keep out the opposition at the other end, conceding 59.

At Blackburn, Lambert is trying to solve the opposite problem. His defence has remained stoic, letting in 40 league strikes so far this season, but the attack has misfired and Rovers fans have celebrated just 39 goals of their own.

His worries in that area have only deepened since the departure of Jordan Rhodes on January deadline day, and no Town fan is likely to mourn his absence from this weekend's fixture.

The former Town striker, who has left Rovers with money to rebuild but lacking a talisman up front, has 10 Championship strikes to his name during the first half of the season, while the most any current player has chalked up is three.

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Moreover, Craig Conway is top of the club's assists charts with five in the league, but he is in the middle of a three match suspension after receiving his marching orders against Sheffield Wednesday two games' ago.

It was 20-year-old Matt Grimes who took his place on the left wing against Wolves, but he lacks the experience of Conway, in his sixth Championship season after enjoying success north of the border with Dundee United.

However, where they do present a considerable threat is set pieces. Of those aforementioned 39 league strikes, a total of 17 have come from set piece situations and an additional five from penalties, compared with 15 from open play (per WhoScored).

Rovers are also statistically weak at converting their chances - they convert 10.1%, compared with Town's 13.5% - so avoiding any temptation to dive in to tackles in Town's own third would be a prudent strategy.

The hosts will be without Charlton loanee Tony Watt, who has been forced to return to the capital after suffering a season-ending injury, but Lambert is hoping to be able to call on the services of Danny Graham, who picked up a minor problem last time out in a goalless draw with Wolves.

Under Chris Powell, Town earned a 1-1 draw against Blackburn last August, with Nahki Wells unsurprisingly the man to notch for the home side at the John Smith's Stadium.

Guard against any set piece heartbreak, and Town can back themselves to win the battle of wills in their opponents' penalty area to go one better this time around.


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