For a team singled out for praise by pundits on an almost embarrassing regularity, Swansea have surprisingly few points to show for their efforts this season.
This is not to diminish their success in any way: after all, as good as securing survival with nine games to go is a huge achievement for any newly-promoted side, even one with a far bigger budget than the Swans and playing a more pragmatic and less risky brand of football.
But you do get the feeling that if another side in the bottom half of the table had gone on a run of four successive defeats then there would be mutterings about wheels coming off the wagon and players going on summer holidays early; as it is, Swansea seem to have so much goodwill in the bank that criticism is largely jettisoned in favour of talking up Brendan Rodgers’ chances of winning manager of the year.
Of course, there are many instances where these blind spots occur – just look at Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp.
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Had the Frenchman overseen a run of one league win in eight, just lost at home to Norwich and looked in danger of missing out on a spot in the top four then the media would have been calling for his head with unbridled enthusiasm, fans would be questioning his sanity and an unhealthy number would be offering to transport him back across the channel.
While the Welsh side’s poor run largely seems to have slipped under the radar, it has not gone unnoticed by their manager.
As it is, Redknapp is still being talked of as a master-motivator, tactician extraordinaire and the man who can lead England to Euro 2012 glory.
Then there’s Mario Balotelli. Had Rio Ferdinand, say, taken a truant back to school and spoken to the headmaster about bullying then a knighthood would probably be on its way in the post.
Alas, not for the much-maligned Mario, who is branded a weirdo eccentric.
But I digress. Back to Swansea. While the Welsh side’s poor run largely seems to have slipped under the radar, it has not gone unnoticed by their manager.
Rodgers apologised to the fans who travelled to watch their side lose 3-0 to QPR in midweek and is said to have read the riot act in the dressing room, so expect a much-improved performance against Blackburn at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Rovers are also on a run of four successive league defeats but, unlike Swansea, they did not have any room for manoeuvre going into their dip in form.
As such, they are deep in trouble: second-favourites for relegation at 2/5 and three points from safety, Steve Kean’s men are under far more pressure than Swansea to return to winning ways.
However, Blackburn’s away form suggests it will be Swansea who break their sequence of defeats with victory and this is reflected in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
The home side are evens favourites to pick up all three points, with the draw at 23/10 and an away success at 11/4.
Blackburn have picked up just 12 points on their travels this season, giving them the third-worst away record in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, they have the worst defensive record on the road by quite some distance, with 38 conceded in 16 matches.
This has been particularly apparent in recent games, with at least two goals conceded in four of their last five away matches and a total of 15 let in during this sequence.
So although Swansea have scored just once in their last four matches, Blackburn’s hapless defensive record means the Welsh side to grab at least two goals looks generous at 19/20, while three points for the home side are surely there for the taking given their own strengths.
For Swansea’s defensive record at home is almost as good as Blackburn’s away defensive record is bad, with just 14 conceded in 16 matches.
This means that two goals for the Swans should be enough for them to take all three points.
But even allowing for Blackburn’s leaky back line, it should not be forgotten that only four of Swansea’s 16 home games have featured over 2.5 goals this season.
Any Swansea win is therefore unlikely to be comprehensive, making a home win with under 2.5 goals extremely tempting at 15/4.
But with a Swansea victory with under 3.5 goals still appealing at 9/5, it could be best to go with this option and allow leeway for a third goal for the home side or a consolation from a Blackburn team fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table.
Swansea to score at least twice @ 19/20
Swansea to win with under 3.5 goals @ 9/4
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