RECENT matches against Cardiff have brought only unhappy memories, but Jake Kean has called for a revival of the Arsenal spirit in a game he believes is now more important to Blackburn Rovers than it is to the league leaders.

Rovers travel to the Welsh capital for a 3pm kick-off this afternoon now sitting a worrying two points clear of the Championship relegation zone, after victories for Wolves, Peterborough and Sheffield Wednesday closed the gap at the bottom on Saturday.

That the danger should be so great, despite Rovers having 47 points with eight games still remaining, says much about both the club’s recent form and the topsy-turvy nature of the Championship.

Rovers’ league position was such that eyes were on the play-offs rather than the drop zone when they won at Arsenal in the FA Cup in mid-February.

But nine games have since passed, bringing no victories and the exit of boss Michael Appleton.

So as Cardiff edge ever closer to the top flight – eight points clear of third place with a game in hand – Kean thinks it is Rovers who have more to play for today.

And, despite recent results, the keeper points to that Arsenal victory as evidence that Rovers are more than capable of going to Cardiff and picking up a win they need so badly.

“Cardiff are obviously going strong and looking to get promoted,” he said.

“But we’re not going to go there and roll over. We need the three points probably more so than them.

“If you look at us on our day, we beat Arsenal. I know it was a scrappy game but it was a solid defensive performance so we can beat anyone on our day.

“It’s just when is that going to happen?”

Rovers, then a division above the Bluebirds, travelled to Cardiff in the Carling Cup last season.

But they lost 2-0 in a game that was perhaps best remembered for Steve Kean’s post-match suggestion that his side ‘forfeited’ the tie – a choice of words he later backtracked on.

This season Rovers had hoped to move themselves into Championship promotion contention with victory at home to Cardiff in December, but embarrassingly lost 4-1 in a game that marked the beginning of the end for Henning Berg.

Paul Robinson has not played since, with Jake Kean now a fixture in the Rovers goal.

“I think we were still up and about it at the time, so that defeat did hurt everyone,” Kean said.

“We’ll be looking, not so much to get one over them, but to show that we can compete with the top of the league. I can’t see why we can’t go to places like Cardiff and win – and win comfortably.”

It is a view echoed by Jordan Rhodes, who hopes the fact that Cardiff were in action on Saturday – losing 2-1 at Peterborough – will work in Rovers’ favour.

Rhodes scored in Rovers 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool on Friday.

“There is no reason why we can’t go there and produce a positive performance,” said the striker.

“We’ve had a day’s extra recovery over them, so who knows?

“They are the league leaders and they are flying high, but we have been to Arsenal this season and got a result there.”

Rhodes’ goal against Blackpool was his 22nd in all competitions since joining Rovers and his 23rd strike in the Championship, including two for Huddersfield at the start of the campaign.

It meant he met his target of a goal every other game after stepping up from League One.

“I have been delighted with my goals return this year,” he said.

“I didn’t expect to score 20 goals plus in the Championship.

“I have already surpassed what I was expecting, which was a goal every two games.”

Left back options Martin and Markus Olsson will be assessed after injury for today’s match, with Karim Rekik not involved on Friday after being on international duty with the Netherlands under 19s team earlier in the week.

Josh Morris, who made his first start for the club against Blackpool, may continue but Rovers caretaker boss Gary Bowyer has not ruled out changes elsewhere to freshen things up.

“We’ve got a big squad and they’re coming back fit now,” said the Rovers caretaker boss.

“We’ve got to be sensible with one or two, it was Josh King’s first game after injury on Friday.

“But whoever plays they’re good players and whoever is selected will go and give their all for the club. I think it’s a great game for us. We’ll be going there loving the challenge.

“They’re top of the league and obviously a good side but we’ve got to take confidence from how we performed on Friday.

“We’re going to Cardiff to try to get all three points.”