Sometimes, when assessing a football match, it is easier to make a case as to why a team won’t win the game as opposed to why they will. Occasionally, you can argue that case for both teams involved.
Blackburn Rovers v Liverpool at Ewood Park tonight is one of those matches, a game that is fraught with variables and question marks over the make-up of both sides and is, to be totally frank, a nightmare match to punt on.
In many ways, most of those question marks are over Liverpool. You would think that with the FA Cup semi-final against Merseyside rivals Everton just five days away that, given their predicament in the Premier League, a trip to Lancashire is nothing but an inconvenience.
But can Kenny Dalglish’s men afford to go into the biggest game of the season with just one win in their last ten Premier League games? On the other hand, can the Reds boss afford an injury or suspension to a key player that will make an already difficult match against the in-form Toffees even harder?
You could say that Blackburn will have more motivation as they are in desperate need of the points, but it certainly didn’t look that way on Saturday when they meekly surrendered at West Brom without as much as a whimper.
I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I told you to back Liverpool at 11/10. Reputation is the only thing that is keeping Liverpool prices so short, because it certainly isn’t what’s happening on the pitch.
Against a team safe in mid-table with nothing to play for, Blackburn showed an alarming lack of fight and bottle and a 3-0 defeat was exactly what they deserved.
It was the sort of performance that had relegation stamped all over it and Rovers’ third straight defeat leaves them in the bottom three with just six games remaining.
Of course, with one point separating four teams (bottom-placed Wolves are as good as gone), Rovers are still very much capable of surviving and they will no doubt see a home match against hapless Liverpool as a perfect opportunity to grab three much-needed points.
Steve Kean’s men are 9/4 to grab that win, with Liverpool favourites at 11/10 and the draw at 5/2. And with the respective state of both sides at the moment, I can’t help but lean towards the draw.
For starters, I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I told you to back Liverpool at 11/10. Reputation is the only thing that is keeping Liverpool prices so short, because it certainly isn’t what’s happening on the pitch.
Six defeats in eight league games does not an 11/10 shot make and you’re as mad as a box of frogs if you take that price.
The only thing that is stopping me going for Blackburn is that Liverpool showed some green shoots of recovery in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on Saturday and you would think they need a confidence-boosting result ahead of the weekend.
Blackburn’s home form – ten defeats, just one clean sheet – is another, with the crowd still likely to turn on Kean and the players if things are going badly.
That said, in Yakubu and Junior Hoilett, Rovers have players to hurt a Liverpool defence that has conceded 14 in losing their last six away games.
With form like that it should be easy to oppose Liverpool but I can’t quite have Blackburn either, unless Dalglish makes a raft of changes. The match leaves me cold and by process of elimination, it is 5/2 on the draw that is my play.
Recommended bet: Blackburn and Liverpool to draw @ 5/2
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