It's unfamiliar territory for Ireland, and we're not even talking about the prospect of winning a first Grand Slam at Lansdowne Road.

You could listen to every rugby podcast in Ireland and England this week, you could read every preview and talk to every punter, and you'd struggle to find anybody confidently predicting anything other than an Irish win at the Aviva Stadium.

Almost every rugby metric points to an Irish victory, the bookmakers giving Ireland a 14-point head start as they go in search of their fourth Grand Slam title. England, meanwhile, come to Dublin at their lowest ebb since their 2015 World Cup failure, reeling from a record defeat to France at Twickenham.

For a lot of Irish rugby supporters, the more that the signs point towards a win in a big game, the less comfortable they feel. We've seen this 'Slambusters' movie before, and Ireland have often been the leading character in ruining other teams' parties.

But this Irish side don't seem burdened by expectation, and it's why they will finish the job this evening.

The contrast between where these two sides is clear in the selections.

Andy Farrell's starting line-up could have been named on Monday morning, the only question marks being over the fitness of Dan Sheehan and Caelan Doris, both of whom have been passed clear to play after injuries against Scotland. Robbie Henshaw and Ryan Baird's inclusions seemed inevitable after Garry Ringrose and Iain Henderson were ruled out, while Jamison Gibson-Park's return also seemed a cert following his explosive impact off the bench at Murrayfield.

By contrast, England boss Steve Borthwick still seems uncertain over his best team as his first Six Nations draws to a close. Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell have been swapping the 10 shirt back and forth, and after Smith was reinstated for last week's humiliating defeat against France, Farrell has been handed the keys to the backline for this evening in Dublin.

Smith was the face of the 53-10 defeat to France, but he was given a thankless task behind a pack that were dominated in every facet of the game. Borthwick's campaign hasn't been helped by injuries to influential back row pair Tom Curry and Courtney Lawes, while Ollie Chessum's ankle injury has been a further blow, with Northampton's Dave Ribbans coming in to partner Maro Itoje in the second row this week.

The English selection this week does point to a back-to-basics approach though. Ollie Lawrence's injury has opened the door for Manu Tuilagi to return at 12, and Ireland have famously struggled to deal with the Sale centre down the years.

The expectation is for England to play for territory and try squeeze Ireland at every opportunity, but through four games of the Six Nations Ireland have shown they can adapt to a variety of opposition styles.

"There's something about this team that just inspires confidence in what they're doing," former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll told RTÉ Sport this week.

"They create so many chances, and there's total comfort in what they're trying to do. It feels like there's no panic."

What's been most reassuring about Ireland this season is how calm they have been when circumstances have gone against them; late withdrawals before the opener against Wales, and a swathe of injuries during their wins against France and Scotland, but on each occasion they never looked put out.

In Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen and James Lowe they have a back three that are operating at the highest efficiency levels, on both sides of the ball. With eight tries between them, they're providing an average of two tries per game as a unit, but they're also excelling in the less glamorous work.

Against Scotland, Hansen proved himself to be far more than an elusive runner, claiming a high ball in the Scottish 22 that provided the platform for Lowe's try, while coming up with two turnovers at crucial moments.

Lowe and Keenan are the only two players to have passed 400 metres with the ball in hand, but Lowe's left-footed kicks down the touchline, and Keenan's relentless chasing have been a fruitful source of territory and possession in the opposition 22 for Ireland in the tournament.

In the pack, James Ryan has found career-best form. His two tries have been the highlight, but he'll take just as much pleasure in his four lineout steals - twice as much as any other player in the championship. Only Keenan has logged more minutes than Ryan in Andy Farrell's tenure, and his dominance at both the lineout as well as the tackle area have him down as the best second row through four rounds of the championship.

He was at the centre of the early flashpoint when Ireland beat England at Twickenham last year, on the receiving end of a dangerous tackle by Charlie Ewels which saw the Englishman red carded and the Irishman stood down with a head injury for several weeks. Ireland weren't at their best that day, and still ran out 32-15 winners, outscoring their hosts by four tries to none.

Charlie Ewels was red-carded after just one minute when the sides met at Twickenham last year

That win 12 months ago is one of seven in a row Ireland have had in the championship, which they've only previously done between 2004 and 2005, while their last defeat to any opposition was in the first Test against New Zealand last summer.

It took Ireland a while to turn the Aviva Stadium into a fortress, but under Farrell they've done so. It's two years and 13 games since they last lost in Dublin, and it's hard to see England stopping that run.

As Tadhg Furlong said this week, it's "all carrot and no stick" for Ireland. The prospect of a Grand Slam on home soil is enough of a prize, with the added incentive of capping off Johnny Sexton's final Six Nations in style.

"You just hope us wearing a green jersey and playing well, that people can be proud to be Irish and can associate with us," Furlong said.

"I understand that everyone is not rugby people and that's fine if rugby is not your cup of tea. I hope that they can see through our actions that it means something to us. It means something to play for Ireland, no matter if you’re within the island of Ireland or if you’re Irish living abroad."

In the event of a surprise defeat for Ireland, France are primed to capitalise, and would likely take the title with a bonus-point win against Wales, but an Aviva Stadium trophy lift would feel hollow after what would be a shock English win.

It's hard to think of meeting between the pair where Ireland were so heavily fancied to win, but there's little sign of complacency in Andy Farrell's camp.

Andy Farrell brought his grandson Tommy - son of England out-half Owen - to Ireland's captain's run yesterday

"I think they'll have the emotional edge, obviously," Farrell said of England. "There's no better tonic, is there than getting back out there and playing again and putting a few things right?

"So you'd expect them to be way better than their best so far because I know that's what is in them, I know the fight that's in the player and the coaching staff."

There's no denying England will be coming to Dublin with a point to prove, but motivation and determination can only account for so much, and Ireland will prove why they're regarded as the world's best this evening.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Ryan Baird, James Ryan; Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris

Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Tom O'Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Jimmy O'Brien

England: Freddie Steward; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Arundell; Owen Farrell (capt), Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, David Ribbans; Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt.

Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)

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