Mike Holden previews the live lunchtime clash between Burnley and Blackburn.
Blackburn did their Lancashire rivals Burnley a good turn in midweek, beating Middlesbrough in a rearranged Boxing Day fixture at Ewood Park, but that might be where the favours end for Sean Dyche’s men as Rovers look to extend a 38-year unbeaten run at Turf Moor. Take the 5/2 available on the draw.
Not since Boxing Day 1978 have the Clarets got the better of their nearest and dearest in this fiercest of local tussles. Admittedly, the sample of six matches is laughably small but it’s being talked about enough in the build-up to convince Paul Lambert’s men they have a moral duty to history and something valuable to protect.
Burnley are the better side, without a doubt, but their record against top-half opposition (W3 D8 L5) leaves a lot to be desired. Blackburn are currently 16th but, in terms of personnel and considering the added desire they are bound to bring to this particular fixture, it’s a relevant sample to take our cues from.
Against the same opposition, Rovers’ record is remarkably similar: three wins and eight draws, albeit from an extra two matches. Of the seven defeats, six have been 1-0, including the reverse fixture in October when they out-shot the Clarets (both on target and off target) by a ratio of three to one.
Combining the two samples, you get 16 draws in 33 matches and almost twice as many defeats as wins, so it’s not unreasonable to assume both teams will play with the handbrake on, if, once the early nervous energy has settled down, neither side has established clear superiority.
Dyche has always been philosophical about these occasions. He understands what it means to the fans but would never wind his players up to peak for the sake of local pride. He has much bigger fish to fry and isn’t afraid to forsake two points on home soil if he thinks increasing the probability of defeat could do greater damage will be done to his long-term objectives.
Burnley drew six times at Turf Moor in their 2013/14 promotion campaign but have only played out three stalemates this time with 17 out of 23 chalked-off. Yet the distribution of results is almost identical, with the bottom eight all beaten then and seven of them accounted for now. Check out the respective pages on Statto, it only adds to the suspicion that more draws might be due.
For those who fancy putting their nerves through the shredder in search of something a bit more exotic, take the 15/2 available on ‘no goalscorer’. It’s a bet that has landed on nine occasions previously this term - Burnley five, Blackburn four. Moreover, Rovers might have had another seven 0-0s - five on the road - but for a solitary lapse in concentration.
Given the importance of this clash and with so little else riding on their season now, we’re counting on them staying focused and giving nothing away for the full 90 minutes in this instance.
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