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Blackburn Rovers

The Great Escape?

The team at the bottom of the Premier League at Christmas always goes down (apart from West Brom in 2005, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a good argument).

So what are the chances of Rovers bucking the trend? 50/50 according to new assistant manager, Eric Black (no relation).

With sixteen games left, it’s probably a bit too early to start making bold predictions, but (and I can’t believe I’m about to write this) Rovers will survive – just.

A quick study of the bottom five’s remaining fixtures gave me a bottom three of Wigan, Wolves and QPR, with Rovers escaping by a single point. A closer look at all the teams told me different.

In the spirit of not making bold predictions, Wigan will go down. They got lucky last season, but the downward trend has continued and when average Championship players like Nicky Maynard turn you down, the game’s really up.

Wolves have been through it all before but have a difficult looking run-in, and I can see them battling Wigan for bottom spot.

Which leaves one spot remaining – QPR, Bolton or Rovers? The fixtures told me QPR, but the appointment of Mark Hughes looks a master-stroke. With money to spend, the Hoops will survive.

Bolton probably have the easiest run-in – with several winnable home games – but seeing how they’ve struggled with Gary Cahill in the team, you can’t help but think they’ve got a job on their hands without him.

As for Rovers – despite everything going on at the club, they’ve somehow kept in touch with the teams around them. The performances against Fulham and Everton were good, and if they carry that forward into the run-in they have a chance.

While it looks like Formica is being sacrificed to calm the bank down, it seems Hoilett and Samba will stay at least until the end of the season. If they can find a way to tighten up at the back, they can win games with the likes of Yakubu in the team.

It’s not difficult to imagine one from Fulham, Everton, Swansea or West Brom being dragged into the battle either, so there’s still much to play for.

However, putting my neck firmly on the line, it will be goodbye to Wigan, Wolves and Bolton. Remember where you heard it first.

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