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Rupert Wyman 20th Feb 2009 - 15:53

Man Utd to make short work of Big Sam's Rovers

Manchester United are now making the defence of their Premier League title look easy. United have been helped by the lack of consistency displayed by rivals Liverpool and Chelsea.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side are currently 1/7 favourites to win their 11th Premier League title in 17 seasons. They are five points clear of the pack and have won nine consecutive league matches.

The run has been built on a secure defence which has not conceded a goal since losing to Arsenal 2-1 on 8 November. On Saturday tea-time Fergie welcomes Big Sam Allardyce and his struggling Blackburn Rovers side to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils are unsurprisingly very short at 1/4 to win the match with the draw at 9/2 and a shock away win priced at 11/1.

In United's 12 league matches at Old Trafford this season they have won 11, drawing the other, the first match of the season against Newcastle. Just four goals have been conceded by United at The Theatre of Dreams, so Rovers' task looks nigh on impossible.

Blackburn go into the match down in 18th place having picked up 10 points in their 11 matches on the road. Their last two matches away from Ewood Park have yielded no goals as stalemates have been played out against Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

However despite their doggged defending in the last two away matches it is unlikely to be enough against Man Utd. If you think the 1/4 is too short to back then you would be wise to back United on the handicap. Giving Blackburn a two goal handicap Man Utd can be backed at 15/8, therefore meaning a win for United by three goals or more will be a winning bet.

Another market where you can increase your value is the double result with Man Utd half-time/Man Utd full time an 8/13 shot.

To make the task harder for Rovers Wayne Rooney is likely to start his first match following his goalscoring substitute return from injury in the midweek win at home to Fulham. The England man will want to make up for lost time and prove his form to Fergie ahead of the Champions League tie against Inter Milan next week.

Rooney is 4/1 to score the first goal and even money to score at anytime during the match. Portuguese winger and United's top-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo is the favourite in the scoring markets at 10/3 for the first goal, 4/5 anytime. Rooney's likely strike-partner Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov is available at the same prices as the ex-Everton frontman but of the three the returning Rooney would be the preference.

Veteran Ryan Giggs should be involved and the Welshman is in good form and looks a bit of value at 9/1 to notch the first of the game.

For Blackburn Roque Santa Cruz should lead the line and if things had turned out differently the Paraguayan could well have been plying his trade in Manchester, albeit across town at Eastlands for Man City. The striker has scored just three league goals this season and is available at 5/1 to score on Saturday.

Blackburn have definitely improved under Sam Allardyce but a trip to Old Trafford looks even beyond his managerial powers and United should get three more points towards their title charge.

The match is televised live on Setanta Sports 1 on Saturday with a 17:30 kick-off and when the match starts the betting has only just begun as with our betlive service you will be able to have a bet during the match on a wide range of markets.

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