This may be the time of good will to all men, but for one manager there is unlikely to be much festive cheer come 10pm on Tuesday evening as Ewood Park plays host to a Lancashire derby that has far more at stake than just local bragging rights.
Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean appears to have support from no one connected to the club apart from the owners, while his counterpart Owen Coyle still just about has the backing of the Bolton supporters, but another defeat might well be the final straw for his employers.
Add into the mix that the loser of this game will be bottom of the Premier League table at Christmas – a position that history tells us almost certainly results in relegation – and you have the ingredients for a fascinating 90 minutes of football.
In their last seven games, Blackburn have picked up just four points, while Bolton have lost their last five games and only won twice in the league since the opening day of the season.
With this dreadful run of form, I am not expecting to see the finest quality of football on show at Ewood Park, but what does seem a certainty is goals and plenty of them.
Half of the games that Rovers and their county neighbours have been involved in have seen over 3.5 goals scored and only table-topping Man City have had more high-scoring matches.
[Yakubu] is comfortably the club’s top scorer with nine goals from his 11 appearances and he has scored five times in his side’s two victories.
Odds on there being more than 3.5 goals this time around are 17/10, but given that these are the two sides with the worst defensive records in the league, odds of 4/1 on over 4.5 goals may well be an even better bet.
Despite their atrocious defensive efforts, both sides have shown a predatory instinct in the rare fixtures where they have actually played well and won.
Bolton have scored four, three and five in the three games that they have won and Rovers have hit four on both occasions that they have taken all three points, against Arsenal and Swansea.
For Kean’s men, there is no doubt that former Everton striker Yakubu is the key man who must fire if they are to win this vital relegation battle.
The stocky forward is comfortably the club’s top scorer with nine goals from his 11 appearances and he has scored five times in his side’s two victories.
This goalscoring record has made him joint favourite (alongside team-mate David Goodwillie) to get himself on the scoresheet on Tuesday at 17/10.
These are generous odds given Yakubu’s impressive record, but to gain even more return for your money you could take a punt on the Nigerian scoring his second hat-trick of the season, with bwin offering odds of 40/1 on this happening.
For Bolton, goals have been slightly harder to come by and no one player has been able to fire on a consistent basis, although Ivan Klasnic has grabbed seven to top the club’s scoring charts.
The Croation has also scored in two of the three games in which the Trotters have been successful and this makes him most likely to penetrate the Blackburn defence. The 31-year-old is joined by former England striker Kevin Davies at 2/1 in bwin’s anytime goalscoring market.
After the front two of Klasnic and Davies, it is inconsistent winger Chris Eagles who is the next best goal threat for Coyle’s men.
The ex-Manchester United player scored in the wins over Wigan and Stoke and on his day can torment opposition defences. Odds of him adding to his tally of three goals against Blackburn are 3/1.
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