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Blackburn Rovers V Manchester United Preview: Will The Reds Be Happy On An Unhappy Hunting Ground? (VIDEO)

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Grant Hanley regains Rovers' lead on New Year's Eve, much to United players' shock | PA

As last week's slender win against Fulham proved, the title race is absolute agony for supporters of Manchester United from now on.

Sir Alex Ferguson's current side is one of his weakest in modern times, with the football served up is more grit than guile. And yet they still sit atop of the Premier League tree.

While Ferguson and his troops enjoyed a golf jolly at St Andrews over the weekend, second-placed City faltered again. Their 3-3 draw with Sunderland registered a fifth point out of a possible 12, and now United can open up a five-point gap.

Blackburn may lie in 17th, but if one team should not be deceived by their lowly position it is United.

On New Year's Eve, Steve Kean's side arrived at Old Trafford short of confidence, points and goals yet won 3-2 for the shock result of the season.

Blackburn shock United on New Year's Eve:

United rallied from 2-0 down to draw level in the second period after a dismal first-half, but Grant Hanley capitalised on the aerially-challenged David de Gea to nod in the winner with 10 minutes left.

And at Ewood Park, United's record has been underwhelming the past decade.

Since Rovers gained promotion back up to the Premier League in 2001, their form against United at home reads, in chronological order: 2-2, 1-0, 1-0, 1-1, 4-3, 0-1, 1-1, 2-0, 0-0 and 1-1.

United enjoyed their hegemony in Blackburn last year when Wayne Rooney's equaliser from the penalty spot sealed an unprecedented 19th title, but the previous season they were served with a stay of execution at the same ground, as they failed to capitalise on eventual league champions Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final date.

For Blackburn fans, crunch evening encounters with the Red Devils prompt nostalgia back to when they vied with title for the championship in the Premiership's early years.

They finished second to United in 1993/94, but Jack Walker's finances bore fruit a year later when Kenny Dalglish guided the club to the first English title in its history.

Which means it's time to delve into the archives for some classics between the two Lancashire sides...

Blackburn 2-0 United, April 1994

Once 13 points ahead in the campaign, Blackburn had gnawed away at United's lead to reduce it to just six points ahead of a huge game between the two clubs.

Alan Shearer, in his Blue and White pomp, bagged both goals against a ragged Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister as the Reds' mini slump (they had won just two in six) was prolonged.

Blackburn 2-4 United, October 1994

In the season Blackburn won the league United did the double over them, with this rain-sodden victory coming in October. Rovers took a 1-0 lead via a superb finish from Paul Warhurst, but referee Gerald Ashby then mistakenly awarded United a penalty and sent future Red Henning Berg off for upending Lee Sharpe.

Cantona cancelled out Warhurst's opener but Colin Hendry regained Rovers' lead early in the second-half. However Andrei Kanchelskis, ultimately voted the Sir Matt Busby player of the year at United, levelled quickly and Rovers' fatigue eventually told.

Blackburn 1-2 United, August 1995

The kids are alright. Only nine days previously United's youngsters (and elders) had been beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa, compelling Alan Hansen to air arguably his worst prediction on Match of the Day.

Fergie’s Fledglings thereafter recorded five successive wins, including this memorable nocturnal win over champions Blackburn. To emphasise football’s fickleness, Sky’s commentator Rob Hawthorne waxed after 20-year-old David Beckham’s curling winner that, "Alex Ferguson is delighted that one of his youngsters has restored Manchester United’s lead!"

Blackburn 4-3 United, February 2006

Dennis Bailey would have received numerous interview requests the morning after the night before. For it was during this game that David Bentley became the first player to score a hat-trick against United since the QPR striker did so on New Year's Day in 1992.

Blackburn were 4-1 up at one point as they took advantage of English football novice Nemanja Vidic's first league start. Ruud van Nistelrooy gave United hope of a comeback, but Rio Ferdinand - playing in midfield - was sent off late on for a second booking after he fouled Robbie Savage.

United 7-1 Blackburn, November 2007

United recorded their biggest win in three-and-a-half-years as they blitzed a sorry Blackburn in what was manager Sam Allardyce's third last match in charge.

Dimitar Berbatov helped himself to five goals to claim his second hat-trick of the season and first quintet in the Premier League. He had scored four for Tottenham against Reading three years previously.

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