Fireworks await as Blackburn & Burnley face-off in the Lancashire derby

Blackburn v Burnley, Premier League, October 18, 2009

Blackburn 3/4; Draw 12/5; Burnley 4/1

“It would top winning the play-off final wouldn’t it? We haven’t got any away points so there’d be no better place to start than Ewood. When you’ve got the Merseyside, Manchester, London and North East derbies, ours can be overshadowed. But you’ll find at Ewood Park it will be a great atmosphere and a great game to be involved in.” – Robbie Blake.

“It is bigger to play Burnley in a local derby than it is to play Manchester United if you look at the history. You have to be prepared and I am looking forward to it.” – Morten Gamst Pedersen.

Whilst the rest of the world has been concentrating on World Cup qualifiers, these two old clubs have been building up to the 92nd Lancashire derby, which is being billed as the biggest ever. The FA Cup ties in early 2005 whetted the appetite for this fixture which is the first in the top division of English football since Burnley won 2-0 at Blackburn (22/1 to repeat the scoreline) in January 1966.

Statistically Blackburn look the likely winners. They have won five of the last six meetings against their local rivals and have lost just once in their last 10 Premier League matches at Ewood Park. Coupled with Burnley’s horrible away record so far, (played four, lost four, conceded 14, scored none) and it isn’t hard to see why the home side are the bookies favourites.

Burnley keeper Brian Jensen (10/3 to keep a clean sheet) is likely to be a busy man in goal on his 250th appearance for the club. “The Beast” has been in excellent form so far this season and appears to have the necessary quality to succeed in the Premier League. However, Owen Coyle’s side have looked naive away from home so far this season and whilst they could stay up on the back of their home form, as Stoke did last season, picking up some away points could really push them up the table.

Coyle and the Burnley fans will be hoping Ewood Park’s proximity to their home ground will bring out the form that has seen them win all their games at Turf Moor. They produced an impressive victory over Birmingham last time out and it looked like Steven Fletcher is beginning to find his feet in England. David Nugent (5/1 to score & Burnley win) should still be on a high from his brace against Sunderland and if there are chances at Blackburn, Burnley’s strikers can take them.

Sam Allardyce’s team will be looking to bounce back from losing 6-2 at the Emirates in a game where they were dismantled by a slick Arsenal side. In general it has been a mixed opening to the campaign for Blackburn who come into this match five points and seven places adrift of their opponents.

Blackburn’s physical approach and Premier League experience could pay dividends in this one. Morten Gamst Pedersen (7/1 to score & Blackburn win) famously scored a late winner the last time the two sides met in the FA Cup and David Dunn (10/1 to score first) is in fine fettle having scored in the last two games.

According to the old adage, form goes out the window in a derby game, this will come as a relief to both sets of fans following Blackburn’s poor start and Burnley’s shocking away form. Sam Allardyce has though made a living out of winning games like these and it would be no surprise to see the home side win the match off the back of some physical play and goals from set-pieces.

101gg predicts: Blackburn 3 – Burnley 2 (25/1)

Blackburn 3/4; Draw 12/5; Burnley 4/1

Full match odds here.