It’s hard not to begrudgingly admire Blackburn under Sam Allardyce. Despite routinely looking every inch the worst team in the Premier League, they somehow sit 13th in the table.
Even more impressively, Ewood Park has been transformed into something of a fortress. There’s no rousing atmosphere to credit for the success though because fans have nothing to get excited about.
Instead, supporters are too busy nursing sore necks and wishing they could turn the clock back 15 years – though they’ve not yet reached the point ofpining for Paul Ince.
But despite playing a brand of football that comparatively makes his old Bolton side look like a blend of 1950s Hungary and Brazil circa 1970, Big Sam has lost just three of his 25 home games at Blackburn.
One of the triumphant trio were tonight’s opponents Aston Villa, who won 2-0 last February during a heady streak of seven straight away wins. They’ve been put back in their place since though, losing 2-1 there this season.
Villa were the semi-final victims when Allardyce took Bolton to the final in 2004. They may well take revenge but will need to wait until the second leg to do so, as we’re backing the draw at 9/4 with Bet365, as well as punting on both teams scoring at 5/6.