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Prediction: Blackburn vs Bolton

30th April 2011

This is a must win game for relegation threatened Blackburn following the home defeat to Manchester City, and with Rovers sitting just outside the relegation zone, the pressure will be solely on them. Bolton are out of contention for the European places after they were beaten 3:0 in midweek by Fulham, but they definitely have the quality to get something from this game.

Blackburn chiefs made a shocking decision to sack manager Sam Allardyce midway through the season and they are still paying the price for it. Not even Jose Mourinho could have done a better job with average Blackburn side than Big Sam, so it is little wonder that Rovers have started to struggle shortly after Steve Kean took over. Having taken just four points from last ten league games, Rovers slipped into the danger zone and with just four games to go they sit one point clear of the relegation zone, meaning the victory against Bolton would be priceless for the hosts. However, beating Trotters will by no means be a walk in the park since not only is Blackburn playing without confidence at the moment, but they also miss quite a few first team regulars, which only adds to the worries. Steven Nzonzi returns to the side from a three-match ban, but Junior Hoilett and Roque Santa Cruz are both doubtful with hamstring problems, whereas David Dunn, Vince Grella and Ryan Nelsen are out injured.

Bolton fans have every reason to celebrate Owen Coyle after what he has done with the team this season and they can only hope the former Burnley man stays at Reebok for as long as possible. Before Owen Coyle, the Trotters were one of the worst travelers in the Premiership, while they often struggled to beat bottom table sides at home, but they are now a real force to be reckoned with at Reebok and have also improved their away performances a great deal. The midweek defeat to Fulham ended Bolton’s European hopes, but the Trotters will, nonetheless, try to finish the season on a high and pick up as many points as possible from the remaining four games. Unlike Blackburn, they will be under no pressure in this match, which is likely to result in another good performance, although certain selection problems could make the task a bit more difficult. Mark Davies, Daniel Sturridge and Gretar Steinsson are all doubtful, while Sean Davis, Stuart Holden and Sam Ricketts remain long-term casualties.

Conclusion

Blackburn desperately need three points to boost their survival chances, but the hosts face a difficult task against very good Bolton side. The Trotters have suffered a small dip in form of late, but I still believe they can escape Ewood with one point in their pockets.

Verdict: Draw (X)

Best Odds: 5/2

Bookmaker: Victor Chandler

Sat 30 April, 2011
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