Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle might have been separated by just three points at the end of the last Premier League season, but a gap of 11 points has already been opened up between the two teams after contrasting starts to the new season.
While Newcastle are in the heady heights of fourth after an unbeaten start to the campaign, Blackburn are languishing at the bottom of the table with a solitary victory from their nine league matches to date.
It is therefore Newcastle who go into the Carling Cup fourth round tie against Blackburn at Ewood Park as 13/10 favourites to win the match in normal time, with the Magpies 18/25 on to progress to the quarter-final stage of the competition.
Meanwhile, Blackburn are priced at 19/10 to win in normal time, evens to go through and the draw which sends the game to extra time is available at 12/5 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
However, improved performances from Blackburn in the last two outings – a 1-1 away draw with QPR and narrow 2-1 loss to Tottenham at Ewood Park – will give Rovers boss Steve Kean hope that his side can succeed where the likes of Arsenal and Spurs have failed and inflict a first defeat of the season on Newcastle.
While it would be going too far to suggest that Blackburn are unlucky to find themselves in the relegation zone, they should not be confused with a side devoid of confidence and incapable of securing results against teams outside of the established top six – as shown by their 4-3 win over the Gunners recently.
Blackburn have certainly not had any trouble beating Newcastle in the past – Rovers have won seven of the two teams’ last ten meetings, with only two going the way of the Magpies.
It should be pointed out that when the two teams met last month at St James’ Park a Demba Ba hat trick helped Newcastle to a 3-1 victory.
But with this being Newcastle’s only win by a margin of more than a goal, and Blackburn historically being far more effective at home than they are on their travels, an away win is far from assured, particularly if Kean’s men can continue on their upward performance curve.
This makes Blackburn’s odds of 19/10 for the win in 90 minutes worthy of being given due consideration, although as they are highly unlikely to run away with it, odds of 5/4 on any team to win by a single goal’s difference could represent a more attractive opportunity.
But for bigger returns, punters could back Blackburn to edge a low-scoring match at 21/4, with a successful £25 free bet on Rovers to beat Newcastle in a game with fewer than three goals set to win £156.25.
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