31st December 2010
Sunderland are the latest team to have been shocked by amazing Blackpool side, with the match against Blackburn the perfect opportunity for a return to winning ways. Rovers pulled a shock themselves, having beaten high-flying West Brom at the Hawthorns, but miracles don’t happen every day as Blackburn will learn the hard way.
Sunderland have been one of the overachievers this season and they are on the right way to become a genuine top 6 side. The team managed to build on the performances from last season and showed a lot of promise this term, especially against the title contenders. Their record against bottom table sides could be a lot better, making this a good opportunity for that to change. Sunderland did lose to Blackpool last time out, despite having 32 shots on goal as opposed to Blackpool’s 9, but they had largely outplayed the Tangerines and another performance like that will certainly bring them victory against Blackburn. Steve Bruce has won last five home games against Blackburn and the trend looks likely to continue even though the boss still has some selection worries. Cattermole, Gyan and Onuoha are all doubtful, whereas Campbell, Turner, Carson and Mensah are out injured.
Blackburn are another team exceeding expectations this season, although there are fears the sacking of Sam Allardyce would have a negative effect on Rovers. Big Sam’s successor, Steve Kean has just recorded his first win as head coach, with Blackburn beating West Brom away from home, so he could be forgiven for feeling confident before the trip to Sunderland. However, I am still not convinced Rovers are anything more than relegation strugglers and Sunderland could prove too much for them to handle. Before the West Brom game, Blackburn lost three straight away matches, conceding 13 goals in the process, which clearly shows Rovers are hardly the worst travelers in the Premiership. On top of that, the visitors will be missing several important players in Kalinic, Salgado, Jones, Andrews, Grella and N’Zonzi, while Christopher Samba remains a major injury doubt.
Sunderland were extremely unlucky not to have beaten Blackpool and everything suggests the Black Cats will make that right in this match. Blackburn showed some improvement to beat West Bromwich but with so many absentees and a poor away record, Rovers have so many things going against them, so I am prepared to back Sunderland to win this clash.
Verdict: Home win Sunderland (1)
Best Odds: 10/11
Bookmaker: Paddy Power