AS Blackburn Rovers and Burnley fans ponder just how the current campaign will pan out, details have been released of a computer prediction forecasting an East Lancashire derby in the play-off semi finals.
Staff working on the Football Manager computer game have simulated the final months of the season and predict that Rovers will finished sixth in the Championship table, three places behind the Clarets.
The prediction is based on statistics used for the game, hailed as the ‘most realistic football management series ever made’.
How accurate their forecast turns out remains to be seen, but they predict that Rovers will actually lose their 34-year unbeaten record against Burnley in March.
On that occasion the Clarets are forecast to win 3-1 in the Championship at Ewood Park.
But Rovers are predicted to restore their derby dominance with a 5-1 aggregate victory in the play-off semi finals.
The simulation even gives the goalscorers. Rovers are due to win 3-1 at Turf Moor in the first leg thanks to a double from Jordan Rhodes and another goal from Tom Cairney, with Sam Vokes scoring for Burnley.
Rhodes and Corry Evans are then due to score in a 2-0 victory in the second leg at Ewood Park.
It is then predicted that Rovers would face Nottingham Forest in the play-off final at Wembley, only to lose 3-1 and miss out on promotion.
Ben Marshall is due to score for Rovers with Simon Cox, Andy Reid and Henri Lansbury netting for Billy Davies’ Forest.
Perhaps punters would be advised not to race down to the bookmakers and put their life savings on that outcome just yet, however.
At Burnley, Danny Ings and Sam Vokes are predicted to add another 11 goals between them with new boy Ashley Barnes scoring seven times.
He is forecasted to make a number of appearances on the left wing, while David Edgar forces his way into the team and joins Tom Heaton as one of Burnley’s most consistent performers.
The Clarets’ automatic promotion bid goes to the final three games of the season but home defeats to Wigan and Ipswich are followed by a goalless draw to Reading on the last day of the campaign.
That leaves Burnley on 81 points, two points behind second-placed QPR, with Leicester the runaway champions on 97.
Rovers secure a play-off spot on goal difference ahead of Ipswich after a 3-0 home win over Wigan on the last day, which takes their total to 71 points.
Rhodes is top scorer with 30 goals for the season while Tom Cairney lays on a total of nine assists.
Perhaps surprisingly, current third choice stopper Jake Kean is predicted to oust Paul Robinson and Simon Eastwood in goal and keep five clean sheets between February and the end of the season.
Fourth-placed Nottingham Forest beat Brighton in the other play-off final, but Derby miss out on the top six and drop allthe way down to 12th.
Barnsley finish bottom of the table with Yeovil and Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are also relegated, as Bolton stay up in 21st position.
In the Premier League, Manchester City are predicted to win a three-way race for the title by two points. They pip Arsenal and Chelsea into second and third place respectively, with Tottenham taking the final Champions League spot under the guidance of former Blackburn Rovers skipper Tim Sherwood.
Everton finish fifth with Manchester United sixth and Liverpool dropping to seventh.
At the bottom, Sunderland finish 20th with Crystal Palace and West Ham United also relegated.
Tom Davidson, football analyst for Sports Interactive said: “Our simulation, based on proposed transfer activity, uses Football Manager’s unprecedented level of player data and unrivalled game engine in the Premier League and Championship.
“It’s been a fascinating experiment in two of the world’s most competitive and popular leagues.
“Things are going to be as close come the end of the Premier League season as they are now.
“Things are a little different in the Championship, with Leicester the clear cut winners.”