Crystal Palace and Blackburn Rovers lock horns at Selhurst Park this weekend looking to usher in new eras of success and maintain their respective pushes for promotion from the Championship.
Of course, both teams recently parted with their managers, but for very different reasons. While Dougie Freedman left for what he hopes will be the greener grass of Bolton Wanderers, Steve Kean finally walked away from Ewood Park after 22 months of vitriol from his own supporters.
While Blackburn will have former player Henning Berg in place for Saturday’s encounter after revealing his appointment on Wednesday, it should be noted that the departure of the men at the top has not seriously affected either side as they have both carried on their impressive form under caretaker managers.
Palace’s first game since Freedman officially left last week ended in a win that stretched their unbeaten run to ten games. The 2-1 away victory at second-placed Leicester City was extremely impressive as it was the Foxes’ first defeat in eight games and the first time they have even dropped league points at the King Power Stadium all season.
The win moved Palace up to fourth place in the table, one spot above Blackburn and within just a single point of the precious automatic promotion places. With 33 games still to be played, there is obviously plenty of time for fortunes to change and it will be intriguing to see if the Eagles can continue to ride high at the top of the table once a new manager is installed.
In the short term, Palace are 31/20 favourites for the upcoming clash on Saturday afternoon and their record of just one home defeat thus far is a reasonable justification for that price against a Blackburn side who have only won one of their six away games.
However, the odds on Blackburn racking up their first win on the road since September 15th are only slightly longer at 33/20, while the draw is 11/5 in bwin’s 3-way betting market – emphasising the teams’ proximity in the table.
Eric Black, who had been in temporary charge since Kean’s departure over a month ago, endured a difficult spell which saw Rovers collect just three points from four games, but the Scot has since guided them to two wins on the bounce, with clean sheets kept in each.
The odds on Blackburn keeping a third consecutive clean sheet are 15/4, but up against a Palace side who have the fourth-best attacking record in the league, that particular hat-trick seems a long shot.
Much more likely to give you a return on your money is my top bet, which is 13/5 on both teams to score in the first half, with winnings of £62 on offer for new bwin punters successfully backing this selection with their free £20 bet.
The rationale behind this selection is solid, with Palace scoring at least one goal before the interval in each of their last four matches and Blackburn only being behind at half-time once in the league so far this season.
In a typical Championship match where predicting a winner is so tough, this punt is surely superior to siding with one team or even the draw, especially at such an inviting price.