Championship leaders Cardiff City travel to Lancashire for a Friday night kick-off against Blackburn Rovers in confident mood thanks to a five-game unbeaten streak.
The Welsh outfit have recovered from a sticky patch at the start of November, when they lost two games in four days, to win four from five and open up a five-point gap between themselves and third-placed Leicester City, meaning they are now as short as 7/10 to be playing Premier League football next season.
Their latest victory came last Sunday against a struggling Sheffield Wednesday, when, despite the 22 places between them in the table, it took until the 80th minute for Craig Conway to strike the first and only goal of the match.
That was the Bluebirds’ tenth win out of ten in the Championship at the Cardiff City Stadium and with such a stunning home record, they really should be miles ahead of the chasing pack for promotion, but their away record, only the 15th-best in the Championship, has so far held them back.
Malky Mackay, the Cardiff manager, will be hoping that with four points gleaned from the last two away matches – a 2-1 win at Barnsley followed by a 1-1 draw at Derby – his side are finally managing to recreate their home form on the road.
The odds on the Welsh side claiming only their fourth away win of the campaign are 33/20 in bwin’s 3-way betting market, while hosts Blackburn are narrow favourites at 31/20 and the draw is 11/5, and in all honesty you would have to be brave to bet against Cardiff in this fixture.
Any weaknesses that this Cardiff team possess are clearly there for the exploiting away from home, but recent form suggests that Blackburn will not be up to the task of halting City’s promotion charge on Friday.
Rovers have, to be blunt, been in terrible form since Henning Berg, who won the Premier League title as a player with Blackburn in 1995, eventually replaced Steve Kean at the helm.
The Norwegian has overseen one win in seven games and seen his new side slide out of the play-off places and currently they are ninth in the table, four points adrift of the all-important top six.
Rovers’ nosedive in form must be a worry for all connected with the club, as a turnaround in fortunes does not appear to be close. Jordan Rhodes saw his opener cancelled out by a late Sam Vokes strike in the East Lancashire derby against Burnley last weekend and in the two games prior to that, they lost at home to Bolton and Millwall.
The chances of a home win seem long, then, despite what the odds might say, and I would definitely be looking at prices that favour the Welsh side.
And while the 33/20 on an away win is tempting enough – especially with returns of £53 on offer for new bwin punters successfully backing this price with their free £20 bet – a safer play could be on the 31/20 that Cardiff score more goals in the second half than the first.
The Bluebirds have fired 22 of their 38 league goals thus far after the interval and with Blackburn also shipping 16 of their 25 goals in the final 45 minutes, this odds-against selection looks to have a cracking chance of succeeding – so this is where my money will be going.