Manchester City, the most talked about team in the country, return to action at Ewood Park this afternoon following their Munich meltdown. Carlos Tevez won’t be involved but the Citizens still have plenty of stars at their disposal. Standing in their way will be Blackburn, whose last league outing at Ewood Park ended in a 4-3 win over Arsenal. Can Rovers follow this success up with victory over City? Harry Boulton says yes, Will Boot says no, and Chris Bryant is asking the questions in the latest edition of Shouting the Odds.
CB – OK Harry, you’re up first. Blackburn are 27/4 to pick up all three points – can they really win?
HB – Blackburn may not have had the best of starts to this season’s campaign, but they have shown that against big teams it is possible to pull off a result. Their home form may look a little deceptive as they were particularly unlucky to lose to Everton and showed belief and determination against Arsenal, coming from behind to take all three points. Blackburn don’t roll over easily when the odds are against them and I can see Steve Kean’s side at least snatching a point in this game, especially considering the current disruption and controversy going on at City off the pitch. Back them to earn a hard-fought draw at 15/4.
WB – Sorry Harry, but Blackburn haven’t got a prayer this afternoon. Yes, they’ve had a bad week, what with Tevez refusing to come on as a sub in Munich and Edin Dzeko’s show of dissent when withdrawn from the field. But rather than making them vulnerable, I think this will actually make them stronger – Roberto Mancini and co will be looking to put on a show to remind everyone that City are genuine title challengers. I can see them winning this one easily by a few goals to nil – I’m even tempted by the 12/5 on a City victory with Blackburn given a two-goal head start.
CB – Well you’ve laid your cards on the table already there Will. Can you see Blackburn scoring Harry? And Will – who do you seeing grabbing City’s goals?
HB – Obviously a lot of attention will be on City’s attacking prowess, but don’t discount Blackburn’s ability to create chances and score goals. One man that has stood out recently is David ‘Junior’ Hoilett, who has shown a real willingness to run at defenders and use his pace to build attacks. He was Blackburn’s main shining light in a disappointing performance against Newcastle last weekend and is 3/1 to replicate his efforts of last week by scoring against Man City in 90 minutes.
WB – Mario Balotelli stands out for me for City. With Dzeko having blotted his copybook and Tevez suspended, the Italian is set to start at Ewood Park. He’s in good form as well, scoring against Everton after coming on as sub to bag his second of the season in just three outings, and is 5/1 to bag the opener today. Failing that, there’s always Sergio Aguero. You can’t argue with eight goals and six Premier League games and the Argentine is priced at 4/1 to score two or more.
CB – and how do you see things ending up?
HB – In terms of scoreline, it could be a reasonably high scoring game. City’s striking partnership of Aguero and Dzeko has been firing extremely well, but don’t discount Blackburn’s attacking threat. Yakubu has shown composure and a hunger for goals in the short time he’s been at the club and along with creative players like Formica, Rochina, Hoilett and Vukcevic, Steve Kean has the option of changing things around with impact subs. At 33/2, 2-2 seems like a realistic scoreline with both teams capable of netting goals – it could be a case of you score, we score, which would be an exciting prospect for 90 minutes.
WB – City have scored ten goals in three matches away from home – the most in the Premier League – and 19 in six games overall. Add this to the fact that Blackburn have the second-worst home defensive record in the top flight this season, and City should ease to a comfortable victory. I’m going for 3-0, which is available at odds of 8/1.
CB – Any final thoughts?
HB – Although clearly capable of scoring goals away from home, it was seen against Fulham and Bolton earlier in the season that Manchester City can fade in the second half and let their performance slip against hard-working sides. Coupled with the fact that Rovers proved against Arsenal that they can change the flow of the game and score goals, Blackburn to score the first goal in the second half priced at 29/10 seems like good value for the home side.
WB – As an insurance policy for Blackburn scoring, consider Man City to win with more than 3.5 goals scored in the match at odds of 39/20. I’m not admitting to having been swayed by Harry’s arguments, but I’m forced to concede that the Citizens have conceded five goals away from home already this season. But given they’re likely to score a few themselves, I’m still backing City to win a game with plenty of goals.
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