Blackburn Rovers – Match Report vs Burnley (25/04/2023)

A close battle between fierce rivals was settled by a thunderous strike, powered into the top corner by Benson Manuel, Burnley’s super sub. Jon Dahl Tomasson’s Blackburn Rovers side put up a resilient effort against Kompany’s team, playing at high tempo and matching the Championship’s top side stride for stride. Both sides defended well around their boxes using the popular 4-2-3-1 formation, preventing either team from creating too many clear-cut chances. However, the aforementioned wondergoal by Manuel broke the deadlock and helped crown Kompany’s Burnley side as the league champions.


A1 – Very good, could play higher

A2 – Strong potential to play higher

B1 – Good, strong player at level

B2 – Potential to be strong player at level

C – Average for the level, re-watch

D – Below average in this match

Adam Wharton

Player profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 02/06/2004
  • Current club: Blackburn Rovers
  • Career: Blackburn Rovers (Y)
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Wharton had a fantastic game against Burnley, showcasing the full array of skills at his disposal against the Championship’s newly crowned winners. His ability to glide past defenders put Burnley on the back foot on a number of occasions, breaking through their press to set up new Blackburn attacks. He showed the ability to anticipate the press, receiving the ball on the half turn whilst controlling it with his back foot which took the pressure off his own defence. The ability to successfully take on defenders also created space for the more attacking players further up the pitch which was a large reason for Blackburn’s ability to match Burnley during this game. Wharton often spotted both short and long passes that could be played but sometimes lacked the accuracy required to make all of the long passes. On occasion the timing of his pass was a little late for the runner meaning that the runner would be caught offside. This is something that I think will naturally improve over time as the youngster gains more experience at the senior level but it was very encouraging to see him consistently looking to progress the ball forward through both his passing and dribbling skills.

Defensively, Wharton showed the energy and determination required to consistently press the opposition when out of possession. He was very aggressive in his defensive actions, displaying a will to win the ball back. Both in this game and throughout the season, Wharton has shown that he is an enthusiastic defender who has a natural aptitude for positioning himself in passing lanes. I thought he worked particularly well with Lewis Travers who is more defensively minded, allowing Wharton to press without worrying about leaving the defence exposed if he was beaten.

Wharton played the full game and looked like he had the energy to play another half of football. From the outside, his energy and drive with the ball looked to energise his teammates and provide the foundation for a great performance. I thought he looked the best player on the pitch against a talented and well coached opposition.

Rating – A2

Adam Wharton showed an innate ability to dribble past players along with the offensive and defensive intelligence required to play in the Premier League. Wharton’s last three games have all been impressive and if he can continue to develop and build a level of consistency to his game, we should be seeing him play at a higher level sooner rather than later.

Tyrhys Dolan

Player profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 28/12/2001
  • Current club: Blackburn Rovers
  • Career: Manchester City (Y), Preston North End (Y), Blackburn Rovers
  • Position: Right Wing, Left Wing, Striker
  • Preferred foot: Right

Tyrhys Dolan was deployed as the lone striker against Burnley by Tomasson and was able to consistently bring the two wingers of Ben Brereton Diaz and Ryan Hedges into dangerous areas using his good hold up play and reliable passing. Dolan didn’t lose possession often during the game which is a rarity for strikers and also showed great strength to keep possession when under heavy pressure and win fouls to help Blackburn to orchestrate attacks from set pieces. This combination of hold up play and passing gave Blackburn a foundation to create chances for both wingers causing Burnley’s defence a lot of trouble.

His finishing wasn’t impressive on the day, something which fits in with his record of 4 league goals this season. His ability in front of goal will need to improve whether he ends up developing as a striker or a winger in the future. Throughout the match he displayed a team spirit that was encapsulated by his high work rate and determination to keep going until he was substituted off in the 75th minute.

Athletically, Dolan has the tools to play at the highest level. He wasn’t the tallest striker but had a stocky build with a low centre of gravity that helped him against larger defenders. He has reasonable pace for a striker and winger too.

Rating – B2

Dolan had a great game for Blackburn and was one of their better players on the day. However, his finishing is not consistent enough for either this level or a higher division. His ability to press and bring others into play is very impressive and he could flourish in a system where he has two high scoring wide forwards.

Harry Pickering

Player profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 29/12/1998
  • Current club: Blackburn Rovers
  • Career: Crewe Alexandra
  • Position: Left Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Harry Pickering was deployed on the left side of defence against Burnley, having a good first half but a decline in the second. Pickering displayed his fantastic passing ability for a left back throughout the game. The range of passing exceeds expectations from left back while his vision and consistency helped Blackburn to keep and recycle possession on a regular basis. Pickering also displayed a determination to get back in defence when pushed further up the pitch, something which I’m sure his teammates enjoyed.

Defensively, Pickering struggled in the second half once Benson Manuel came on. I think the combination of pace and fresh legs caused Pickering to mistime his tackle on occasion, resulting in a quick booking. The yellow card may have caused Tomasson a concern as Pickering was substituted soon after. Whilst his tackling was inconsistent, I thought that Pickering’s positioning was good, reflecting the fact that he has regularly started in senior football from the age of 18.

I think that he should push forward more often in order to make the most of his passing and crossing abilities. It would be difficult to say from one game whether his reluctance to go forward was a tactical decision or one that is ingrained within the player. For someone with a high level of technical attributes, I was surprised to see he’s only had 4 assists over the last two seasons in the Championship with Blackburn.

Rating – B1

Harry Pickering has the technical ability to play in a higher division but I think he lacks the pace and defensive confidence required in leagues such as the Premier League. He may be more suited to playing as a left wingback in a back 5 so that he has more cover when facing more tricky wingers, something which he would face in the top divisions across Europe.

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