Manchester United v Blackburn, Premier League, October 31, 2009
Manchester United return to the homely confines of Old Trafford after three consecutive away game which brought varying results and emotions.
Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s side claimed wins at CSKA Moscow and Barnsley but sandwiched in between was the 2-0 defeat at Liverpool which was arguably Unitedâ€™s worst performance since their Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in Rome.
The Red Devils had the opportunity to sink Liverpool deep in the mire last Sunday but really struggled to get hold of the game and were largely overrun by a fired-up and energetic Liverpool midfield.
Question-marks have also been placed on the previously rock-solid central defensive pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, with the former sent off for the third successive game against the Merseyside giants and the latter found wanting by Fernando Torres for the second goal. (United are 2/5 to keep a clean sheet.)
Blackburn should arrive at Old Trafford confident they can put a further dent in Unitedâ€™s quest to secure a fourth consecutive title although in truth their main objective could be to keep the score down.
Sam Allardyceâ€™s side have had some chastening experiences this season, particularly conceding six at the Emirates and last week (Rovers are 40/1 to lose 6-nil) they were completely decimated by Chelsea who scored five (Rovers are 16/1 to lose 5-nil) and could well have claimed double that amount.
Following the hammering at Stamford Bridge, Allardyce branded his players as â€œpatheticâ€ and the swine flu scare surrounding the club took centre stage. David Dunn and Christopher Samba missed the defeat at Chelsea due to H1N1 and there were fears that the virus had spread around the squad and perhaps even to last weekâ€™s opponents.
Dunn (6/1 to score) made a twenty minute substitute appearance in the Carling Cup 5-2 win over Peterborough on Tuesday night and he could be crucial at Old Trafford after starting the campaign in fine form. Allardyce made seven changes for the visit of the Championship side and will likely revert to his first choice team at United despite Michel Salgado and Nikola Kalinic ( 7/1 to score) scoring their first ever goals for the club.
Incredibly, Blackburn have conceded 22 goals in just nine Premier League matches in 2009/2010, which is the joint worst total in the league. Goalkeeper Paul Robinson has also produced a string of impressive saves in a number of games this season which says a lot about Blackburnâ€™s porous defence, which is very rare in a Sam Allardyce team. ( 8/15 for there to be more than 2 goals in the match.)
Historically, United also score plenty in this particular fixture. Over the course of the last four games between these two sides at Old Trafford, United have scored 13 goals and this could be the game where the home team get their mojo back and Berbatov (6/1 to score a brace) and Rooney (11/4 to score first) fill their boots.
Unitedâ€™s comfortable win at Barnsley on Tuesday night showed the immense young attacking talent possessed by the Champions. Goal-scorer Danny Welbeck is to undergo a scan on his knee but Federico Macheda and Gabriel Obertan showed enough to put the strikers under pressure and this looks to be the type of game where United can improve their goal difference.
101gg predicts: Manchester United 3 â€“ Blackburn 0 (6/1)
Full match odds here.