Yep it`s the big derby game again for the second time this season on Sunday with Blackburn Rovers this time travelling the short distance down the M65. The Clarets will be keen to get back the East Lancs bragging rights in this home game at Turf Moor which kicks off at the early time of 12 noon. It will feel like 11 am though bearing in mind the clocks will have been put forward the night before!
Most Clarets fans would probably have preferred this match to be played under different circumstances since not only is this the usual grudge game but is also one we need to win to give us some hope of avoiding the drop. At the moment we are third from bottom, three points behind West Ham and ahead of Hull on goal difference having played a game more than the Tigers. The pressure could be on the Clarets even more depending on the outcome of the Saturday games between West Ham and Stoke at Upton Park and Hull and Fulham at the KC Stadium.
Brian Laws could be under significant pressure if we lose this one and I just hope the fans keep behind him in this match even if things start to look like they are going ‘tits-up`. If we are to win only one more match this season and lose our battle to survive the drop, please let it be this game! We have had very little to cheer about since Coyle jumped ship and 2010 is turning out to be pretty grim so far. A win especially against this lot would really boost morale and could kick-start a recovery so come on you Clarets we can do this!
Predicted Team Sheet
The Clarets put in their best performance for sometime against Wigan at the DW Stadium last Saturday. They looked both confident and effective and were unlucky not to come away with a well-earned point following the late goal in added time by Rodallega. It is difficult to know how much that 1-0 defeat will have taken out of the players after such misfortune but there is an argument for keeping with the same line-up. Having some consistency in the team and showing confidence in a side that played well might be something that Brian Laws should consider.
With both Fox and Carlisle back in contention, it will be interesting to see which back-four line up against Rovers. It would be very cruel on Michael Duff if he had to give way. He was man of the match against Wigan and really should keep his place. Stephen Jordan too was given a busy time at the DW Stadium but generally did well.
I would start with Jordan and indeed the same starting eleven and have Fox on the bench
My eighteen would be as below; although I am not sure Brian Laws will see it that way. He has the habit of always making some changes that surprise you but I do think if a team is playing well we need to start adding the word ‘consistency` to our armoury in terms of team selection unless of course injuries or suspensions dictate some changes will have to be made.
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McDonald, Paterson, Nugent, Fletcher
Subs: Weaver, Fox, Bikey, Cork, Blake, Eagles, Thompson
Burnley Team News:
There are no fresh injury concerns for the Clarets with news that Clarke Carlisle and Danny Fox are back in contention after missing the 1-0 defeat at Wigan last weekend through injury. Caldwell (persistent groin strain) and McCann (knee) remain sidelined.
David Edgar went out on loan to Swansea this week so obviously won`t be in contention despite being in the eighteen last Saturday.
Player to watch: Graham Alexander
The onus is really on the acting captain to raise the morale of his team and whip them into shape against the old enemy. This will also have to be a captain`s performance and there will be no room for individual error. Come on Grezza! You are right; we are in this together so let`s all pull together fans, manager and players alike and make this a victory to remember!
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
David Dunn who was supposedly doubtful after picking up a leg injury in Rovers 2-1 win against Birmingham City in midweek has made a miraculous recovery and now looks set to play. Nice bit of psychology there Big Sam except it fooled nobody!
Rovers` captain, Ryan Nelsen plus Gael Givet, Lars Jacobsen, and Vince Grella are all available too after recovering from their injuries
Keeper, Paul Robinson is still sidelined with a calf injury, while January signing Yildiray Basturk is out with a hamstring problem
Player to watch: Christopher Samba
Blackburn Rovers defender Christopher Samba seems to be trying to scare the Clarets so let`s give him a hard time on Sunday. I will certainly be watching him hopefully fall flat on his face.
“There is no way Burnley will be more motivated than us. Because it is an important local derby it is a good place for us to play next. The pressure is on them because they need wins to get out of trouble.’
Yeah right! I do think the Clarets will be more motivated trying to avoid the drop than Rovers will be going for a yawn-bending midtable finish again so come on lads prove me right!
The 25 year old Republic of Congo international completed a transfer from Hertha BSC in January 2007 signing a three and a half year deal for £45,000 and is also capable of playing as a striker
Back to the Future
One grim reading for Clarets fans is that it is almost 31 years since Burnley last beat Blackburn. This was a 2-1 victory at Ewood Park on 14 April 1979 in an old Division Two match. You have to go back to Boxing Day 1978 for the last time we beat them at Turf Moor also by 2 goals to one.
The last time the Clarets played in the top flight back in Season 1975-76 we did not have to worry about Rovers. They were in those days a struggling side and the seventies was not their era with Blackburn spending most of the decade yo-yoing between the old second and third divisions. They had won the old third division title in the 1974-5 season but finished 15th in Division 2 in 1975-6, the season Burnley were relegated from the top flight never to return for another 33 years.
In 1976-77, with both clubs now in the old Division 2, the Clarets got a creditable 2-2 draw at Ewood Park coming back from 2-0 down to score two goals in the last ten minutes, Noble and Brennan were the heroes that day. It was even better at Turf Moor a few months later with the Clarets securing a 3-1 victory.
Clarets fans will want to forget the last time we played Rovers back in October at Ewood Park. A stunning goal by Robbie Blake from 25 yards out after just 5 minutes of play had Clarets fans going wild with jubilation but the joy was not to last long. Four minutes later Dunn equalised for Rovers and the Clarets seemed to go to sleep for the rest of the game. Di Santo gave them the lead after 21 minutes and two minutes before half-time it was 3-1 after Pedersen headed into the path of Chimbonda who cut inside Steven Fletcher to slot into the far corner. Eagles reduced the arrears in second half added time but Rovers held on to win 3-2.
The last time we played Blackburn in the top flight before this season was back in the sixties, in the 1965-66 season in fact. That season the Clarets finished third with Rovers relegated in bottom spot but we had mixed fortunes in our two games against them. The home game at Turf Moor was played on the 9th October 1965 in front of a 23,198 crowd and we were 2-0 down to them within the first 20 minutes. Andy Lochhead got a goal back on 28 minutes but 2 minutes later Blackburn got their third. Rovers completed a grim day for Harry Potts men getting a fourth goal in the 69th minute to win 4-1. The Clarets though got revenge in the return game at Ewood Park on the 24th January 1966 winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Willie Irvine after 19 minutes and Gordon Harris in the 69th minute.
Mike Dean (Wirral) is the referee for this one and Clarets fans will remember him as the man in charge of our play-offs final at Wembley last May. This season he has also been in charge of our league games against Spurs at White Hart Lane and against Arsenal at Turf Moor. He was appointed to the FIFA International Referees list in 2002
Burnley have not won a match now in seven league games with six defeats and one draw. Indeed our only win in 20 games was the home victory against West Ham back last month and that remains Brian Laws only win since taking over in January.
The only encouragement for the Clarets is that they played really well in their last game against Wigan at the DW Stadium last Saturday before cruelly being denied a point in the last minute of added time when a Rodallega header gave the Latics a 1-0 victory.
The away from though of Blackburn is abysmal. They have won only one of their last 20 league games away from home and have the third worst record in the League. Sadly for the Clarets we have the worst away form with Hull not too far in front. Rovers have failed to score 12 times this season and only Wolves have a worse record.
There is probably very little point however in considering the form book of these two sides. This is after all a grudge derby of the highest order but one in which certainly Burnley have most to lose and most to gain. Three points and our hopes of survival remain, a defeat or even a draw would realistically dash those hopes to the extent we would almost need a miracle to stay up.
Blackburn`s season is effectively over as they once more confirm they are nothing more than the usual mid-table mediocrity but they will certainly be up for beating the Clarets and will be keen to get the double over their East Lancashire rivals.
Nothing other than a win will do in this one. The thought of Blackburn getting a win and their gloating Rovers fans congratulating themselves that they had just put the final nail in Burnley`s coffin is just too unbearable to think of so let`s be positive. A tense 2-1 Clarets victory and the East Lancs bragging rights return to Turf Moor and kicks start our survival march.
A tricky game at home to Manchester City is next up on Saturday 3rd April. This will also be a televised match and will be a late kick-off at 5:30pm