If football is all about having momentum at the end of the season when prizes are won and survival is assured, then nobody seems to have told either Tottenham Hotspur or Blackburn Rovers.
Here we have two clubs with very differing goals – Tottenham to win a place in next season’s Champions league, Blackburn to avoid dropping into the Championship – but both sides are bound by an alarming slump in form at precisely the wrong time of the season.
And with three games left, the meeting of the two clubs at White Hart Lane could well be a season definer for the loser – more so for Blackburn, who could be staring down the barrel of relegation on Sunday evening should things go badly for them this weekend.
If results were to go against them on Saturday, Blackburn could go into the match on Sunday finding themselves six points adrift of safety with three to play, a situation that would require Harry Houdini levels of escapism from poor old Steve Kean.
Blackburn have scored in all but three of their away fixtures, including United, Arsenal, Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton.
For, as well as the game against Tottenham, Blackburn still have to play Chelsea.
Ah, Chelsea. Or should that be Champions League finalists Chelsea, a development that has no doubt irked Harry Redknapp as he attempts to come up with excuses for producing just one win in the last nine Premier League games.
This run threatens, alongside Chelsea’s possible Champions League glory, to derail Tottenham’s season completely.
‘Arry might have the fawning press pack in the palm of his hand but he isn’t fooling me. One of the funnier aspects of Tottenham’s terrible run is hearing Redknapp go from ‘we can win the league’ to ‘we can finish third’ to ‘Tottenham would do well to finish in the top four considering what we’re up against’ without anybody seeming to pull him up on it.
They should: after all, the run actually reads just five wins in 17 since New Year’s Eve, a sequence that leaves them 13th in the table since that date.
You would think facing a team who before last weekend’s win over Norwich had lost five on the bounce might be the perfect pick-me-up for Spurs after last week’s defeat at QPR, and the odds compilers at bwin agree, making Spurs the 2/5 odds-on favourites.
The draw is 18/5 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market and Blackburn are 25/4 outsiders.
In truth though, neither of the latter two prices appeal to me in the slightest.
Even allowing for this, Tottenham look far too short, even if they possess far, far more quality than Kean’s side.
But Redknapp’s travails must be weighed against those of Kean: only already-relegated Wolves have won fewer matches and conceded more goals than Rovers, while nobody has won fewer games or let in more goals on their travels.
It is a recipe for relegation, and away from home recently Rovers have been abject at best. Since winning at Old Trafford in December – how on earth did that happen? – Blackburn have lost six of their eight trips, winning just once (at Wolves).
They have also conceded 21 goals in a run that has contributed to the perilous situation they find themselves in.
The latter two games, defeats at West Brom and Stoke, had all the hallmarks of relegation – lack of fight, organisation and quality – and it is for this reason that Tottenham have to be sided with, despite their own poor form.
But 2/5 is of no interest to anyone, so I would advise the 14/5 that Tottenham win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1. Tottenham are liable to concede – they have kept just four clean sheets in the last 14 league matches – and Blackburn have scored in all but three of their away fixtures, including United, Arsenal, Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton.
But their goals against column reads like a horror show and Tottenham, who have scored at least two in nine of their home games, can take advantage. I would keep stakes small though, as when pressure mounts on two out of form sides the results can sometimes be surprising.
Recommended bet: Tottenham to win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 @ 14/5
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