Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland go head-to-head on Monday evening as their lengthy Premier League break comes to an end.
With England manager Fabio Capello set to step down from his role after the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine in two years time, Rovers manager Sam Allardyce and Black Cats opposite Steve Bruce have both been backed to replace the Italian veteran.
Although there is a considerable amount of time between now and then, Allardyce and Bruce are impressing as they continue to stamp their unique marks on the clubs.
Blackburn epitomise what Allardyce is all about. He has instilled a tough, honest and wholesome ethic in Lancashire since making the move to Ewood Park, after his ill-fated spell with Newcastle United in 2008.
With a backline of goalkeeper Paul Robinson and defenders Michel Salgado, Gael Givet, Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen, Rovers continually prove a tough nut to crack and they are the sportsbook favourites to win this one.
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But he lacks an out-and-out goalscorer and, with just seven goals notched in their opening seven games, the opposition net has hardly bulged when his toothless men have been in action.
They currently sit in 13th position and a win here would enhance their position in the table, but Bruce’s side, who are two places ahead of their competitors by virtue of goal difference, should offer stern resistance.
The Black Cats are unbeaten in five, with four of these recent draws against Wigan Athletic, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United and they should be confident of picking up another favourable result.
However, leading striker Darren Bent could be out of action after he sustained a groin injury in training recently.
The frustrated frontman was forced to withdraw from England’s European Championship qualifying draw with Montenegro on Tuesday and, like Blackburn, it is difficult to see where their goals will come from.
The neutral would settle for a repeat of last season’s performance when the two adventurous teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw on December 28.
Bent scrambled home the opener seven minutes after the interval, but Morten Gamst Pedersen smacked home an instant response to tie things up.
The lively Bent notched his second after being played in by Jordan Henderson and, with time running out, the hosts secured a point when former Sunderland duo Pascal Chimbonda and El-Hadji Diouf combined.
Chimbonda’s cross was headed home by the Senegalese front man for a share of the spoils.