As they woke up on Christmas Day to look inside their stockings, there was little doubt as to what many Blackburn Rovers fans hoped to find: a repeat of West Bromwich Albion’s miraculous comeback back in 2005, when Bryan Robson lifted his side from last place to safety in half a season.
Back then, on the penultimate day of the season, Tomasz Kuczszak put in a stunning shift at Old Trafford, as his interminable last-gasp saves helped the Baggies grab an unlikely point, without which they would most certainly have been relegated.
That said, the ghost of relegations past reminds us that it remains the only event of its kind in Premier League history and that Blackburn are still bwin’s favourites for the drop come May, an eventuality priced at odds of 2/5.
Rovers are certainly unlikely to repeat WBA’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Saturday. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are fresh from two 5-0 maulings (against Fulham and Wigan) and are looking to emulate last year’s 7-1 massacre, in which Dimitar Berbatov grabbed five all for himself.
Wait for conffirmation of the line-ups, but if the Bulgarian is included, back him to nab two or more at 17/4, though a better shout would be on him emulating (or bettering) his Boxing Day hat-trick against the Latics at 12/1.
Though Rovers’ performance at Anfield finally contained some of that pluck they will need to survive in the Premier League, it’s unlikely to make a difference here.
United have, despite their elimination from the Champions League, recently rediscovered their touch in front of goal and will no doubt see this game as an opportunity to further improve their goal difference.
Chicharito Hernandez (17/20 to net at any time) and Wayne Rooney, who tops the any time scorers’ charts at 13/20, will also be looking to cash in, if selected.
This game could also see Fergie deploying some second-string players, as United have an testing trip to St James’ Park in store on January 4th.
Danny Welbeck and Ji-Sung Park could be capable of contributing the last goal of the match, priced at 4/1 and 15/2 respectively, if their services are required from the bench once United have wrapped up victory.
The game’s outcome might be a foregone conclusion, but Rovers will still believe they can trouble the scorers.
At 37/20, they’re a decent shout to notch a goal, with top scorer Yakubu’s form suggesting that they could at least give the result a tinge of respectability.
His second strike against Swansea, a header off a volleyed cross-shot, testified to the Nigerian’s devilishly quick reflexes and goalmouth instinct, which will likely see him get the better of a defence still short of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
At 5/2 to notch at any time, he cannot be ignored, while commanding centre-back Chris Samba could be a real handful for an injury-hit United backline from set-pieces and looks a decent option to hit the back of the net at 5/1.
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