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Michael Taylor 21st Nov 2009 - 11:07

Expect a battle at the Reebok

Leg one of possibly the worst Super Sunday in Sky Sports history sees Big Sam Allardyce miss out on a return to the Reebok Stadium as his Blackburn Rovers take on Lancashire rivals Bolton Wanderers.

With just two points separating the two sides there's far more to play for than just local pride, although the fight for bragging rights could quite easily leave the neutrals wishing they'd done something slightly more productive with their Sunday afternoon's.

The potential highlight had been the return of Allardyce to where he made his name but due to health issues his larger than life will be missing from the touchline - hopefully not for too long though.

Hoping not to sound too disrespectful to either side, it's just hard to envisage a cracking derby, especially since both teams have a very similar set-up and fighting spirit.

Bolton fans know all about Big Sam's sides after seeing his work for eight extremely successful years at the Reebok.

The Trotters were athletic, hard working, strong and very tough to beat - a combination that saw them reach the dizzying heights of 6th in the Premier League and a place in the UEFA Cup back in 2005.

He's now taken the same ethos to Ewood Park and while success hasn't been instant, he has been attempting to re-lay the foundations after Paul Ince's one man demolition job.

Rovers' giant centre back Chris Samba gave his club a great boost earlier this week by penning a new contract and he'll have to earn every penny of the new deal if he's going to out-battle Bolton lynchpin Kevin Davies.

Gary Megson, in complete agreement with Allardyce, loves to get the ball forward as quickly as possible and why would they when Davies continues to fight and hold up every ball.

The former Southampton man may not be the most prolific but he will chip in with the odd goal and, more importantly, he'll be the person who wins free-kicks and continually harries the defence.

If Blackburn fail to live with his strength and concede set pieces around the box then Paul Robinson, who all too often looks susceptible against crosses, could be in for a long day.

The likes of Gary Cahill and Zat Knight are real goal threats in a Bolton side that thrive in the air and are available at massive 20/1 and 33/1 respectively first goalscorer prices.

It's a similar story for Blackburn as well with Samba and Ryan Nelson the main aims in the box, however, for me, everything depends on one man, David Dunn.

Had it not been for a string of injuries the attacking midfield man would be playing for a bigger club than Blackburn but I'm sure the Rovers faithful aren't going to be complaining.

Throughout this season he's been the heart and soul of Blackburn and had it not been for some invaluable goals his side may be even closer to the relegation battle.

Instead his side are three points clear of the drop, Dunn has four goals and life in that section of Lancashire still has an element of excitement on Saturday afternoons.

If Dunn makes it 5 goals in 7 Premier League matches this Sunday then you'll get paid out at 10/3 and I feel Blackburn have a great chance of coming away with the three points - available at 11/5.

I see it as, if Dunn is on form then Blackburn should be favourites, if he isn't then Bolton have a great chance - so perhaps the draw may prove to be the best bet, again available at 11/5.

Either way, the one thing that will definitely be in supply is competitiveness.

Expect big aerial battles, crunching tackles and a partisan atmosphere, and if Mike Dean can't keep a lid on the action then expect the 23/10 about more than 55 total bookings points (10pts per yellow, 25pts per red) to come in - and even if he does keep control the thought of a couple of yellows and a red card is not entirely unthinkable.

 

 
 
 

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