Sean Dyche ended a 35-year wait for Burnley fans to taste derby success over bitter rivals Blackburn on their last visit to Ewood Park, but the fervour and momentum that carried the promotion-chasing Clarets to victory 19 months ago might be conspicuous by its absence this time around.
Jason Shackell and Danny Ings were the Burnley scorers that day, which only goes to illustrate the difference between then and now. Burnley aren’t a million miles away from recreating the standards of that memorable 2013/14 season but when you strip everything down in search of the lost magic, those two names - the captain and top scorer - basically account for the shortfall.
Conditions favour Burnley here, with an extra day to prepare for the early kick-off and a kinder hand on the injury front, but Rovers have kept clean sheets own each of their last four home games against progressively better opposition. Having shut-out Bolton, Charlton, Ipswich and now Derby, they will fancy their chances of stretching the sequence to five - providing they can weather an early storm from the visitors.
When Burnley hit the road, they tend to start on the offensive and throw their best punches before the interval, only to run out of steam and retreat to the edge of their 18-yard box thereafter. It’s a strategy that has brought victories at Bristol City and Rotherham already this term, adding to six other occasions when they landed the Burnley/Burnley double result on the road against bottom-half opposition two seasons ago.
Whether Blackburn should be classed in that sort of category is debatable but there’s enough credit in those recent defensive displays to suggest they can hold firm until half-time, after which the game could be theirs for the taking. Burnley have conceded the next goal after the break in six out of seven away trips this term, the exception being the televised goalless stalemate with Derby.
It’s a trend from which they have so far emerged relatively unscathed, having forced late equalisers at Leeds and Nottingham Forest and re-taken the lead at Rotherham. Meanwhile, defeats at Port Vale (in the Capital One Cup) and Ipswich are distant memories from August, although Rovers can take heart from both results and land the 11/2 available on the Draw/Blackburn (half-time/full-time) result.
Indeed, had Forest not been reduced to ten men in midweek following Henri Lansbury’s stamp on Ben Mee, they too would have probably held out for victory. As it was, another moment of stupidity from Chris O’Grady proved costly as he elected to shoot rather than take the ball into the corner during stoppage time, enabling Matt Taylor to bag an equaliser from distance moments later.
Given the same scenario, Rovers would surely be savvy enough to see the game out. A more pertinent question might be whether they can force a breakthrough in the first place but splitting a point between the Blackburn 1-0 correct score and no goalscorer is a sensible back-up wager that leaves us with plenty of bases covered.
For more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system, follow this link.