Top half challengers – burly Blackburn eye shock Euro spot

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Despite Sam Allardyce’s excellent record at Ewood Park, it seems that with odds of 5/1 to be relegated, Blackburn are far from safe this season.

Such is the unpredictable nature of Premier League clubs such as Blackburn, however, a top six finish for Rovers is also plausible at a price of 14/1.

Blackburn have competed in the Europa League’s previous incarnation, the UEFA Cup, as recently as 2006, and Allardyce guided Bolton to the same competition in 2005 and 2007.

Having finished last season in 10th place, Rovers will be hoping to climb the Premier League table again, and their familiar squad looks in decent shape to do so.

There has been minimal change in personnel at Ewood Park this summer, with Hugo Fernandez arriving from Union Deportiva Cornella, and Steven Reid and Yildiray Basturk leaving for free.

Defence
Such continuity will be beneficial to a defensive unit which excelled last season, with Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen typically indomitable, and youngster Phil Jones emerging as an excellent prospect in central defence.

Midfield
The Blackburn backline is well protected by a midfield which blends the craft of Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn with the rugged physicality of the likes of Steven N’Zonzi.

Attack
With somewhat of a shortage in terms of striking options, Allardyce may need to call on his wealth of transfer market knowledge to provide competition for his forwards Nikola Kalinic, Jason Roberts and Junior Hoilett.

Bettors may be interested to bet on Blackburn in the Premier League Handicap market, where you can back them to triumph with a handicap of +36 points at a price of 15/1.

Who will be Blackburn’s competition in mid-table? Fulham are 11/1 to finish in the top six. See the full Barclays Premier League Betting Odds market.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.