The Clarets take on Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday night hoping to keep their momentum going following the remarkable 4-3 victory against local rivals Preston at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Burnley are currently fifth in the table with ten points from five games. They have certainly ridden their luck in recent times and despite often looking lacklustre and clueless for large periods of their games have often come away with points with just one defeat so far in the league. The derby at Turf Moor last Saturday was a classic example after being 3-1 behind against Preston and looking dead and buried to winning 4-3 scoring three goals in a remarkable last six minute spell. We were frankly woeful for the first 80 minutes of this game and Brian Laws will need to look at his team and tactics closely if we are to avoid doing things the hard way again!
It would be nice to get our first away win on the board after one draw and one defeat so far but it won`t be an easy task against Middlesbrough at the Riverside. Gordon Strachan`s team were highly favoured for automatic promotion at the start of the season but the results have not gone their way so far. They are currently 5th from bottom with just four points from five games. League leaders, QPR inflicted a 3-0 defeat on them in their last game at Loftus Road and indeed they have failed to score in three of their five games played so far this season. Their home form is slightly better but they have still only picked up one win from their two games at the Riverside in the Championship. They will be keen to kick-start their campaign and get another home win on Tuesday night so the Clarets will need to be on their guard.
Middlesbrough Team News:
Clarets fans hoping to see former loan defender, Rhys Williams in action against us will be disappointed. He has been sidelined for some time with a long-running pelvic injury.
Midfielder, Willo Flood is also out with a long-term injury after dislocating his knee in the opening match of the season at home to Ipswich.
Another midfielder in the wars is Kevin Thomson. He suffered a broken leg in the second half of Boro’s goalless draw at Leicester and will be out of action until at least October.
Gary O’Neil though who has been short of match action after struggling with a persistent ankle injury played in Middlesbrough`s last game against QPR as did fellow midfielder, Nicky Bailey after recovering from a groin problem..
Player to watch: Kris Boyd
27 year old Scotland international striker, Kris Boyd signed a two year contract with Middlebrough in July 2010 after his former club, Rangers admitted in May he would be leaving when his contract ran out in the summer. He scored his first goal for his new club in the 1-0 win against Sheffield United in August but has not scored since. We certainly won`t want him to get his goal-scoring touch back against the Clarets. Boyd scored just over 100 goals in nearly 145 appearances for the Gers so will definitely need to be watched.
Burnley Team News:
Tyrone Mears will be available for this match. He missed the local derby at home to Preston due to an automatic one match suspension for being sent off in the previous game away to Swansea (double yellow).
We have no more suspensions and there is currently no news of any further injuries from the Preston game so it looks like Brian Laws will have the whole squad to choose from except of course for Chris McCann who is recovering from a cruciate ligament operation.
Player to watch: Chris Iwelumo
Iwelumo currently heads the Championship table for number of goals scored this season in the League. His hat-trick on Saturday against Preston at Turf Moor took his tally to 5 with all his goals being scored at Turf Moor. He is undoubtedly our main threat but he now needs to start proving this on the road. His chances might be better if he has someone supporting him up front and it will interesting to see if Laws sticks with him as a loan striker or whether a Rodriguez or Paterson will be up with him in 4-4-2.
Team & Tactics
Tyrone Mears will no doubt return after a one match suspension and play at right back. We have to hope he puts in a decent performance after some indifferent sulky games in which he has looked somewhat disinterested. He does however appear to be our best option at right back and David Edgar looks set for a return to the bench after replacing him for the Preston game.
With no further injury concerns or suspensions following the derby match, Brian Laws will have the full squad at his disposal to select his eighteen (except Chris McCann of course) and this could be a dilemma for Laws. He has selected a similar team for the last handful of games opting for a lone striker up front with Chris Iwelumo usually taking on that role. If he sticks with that formula we can expect the following line-up on Tuesday night:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Fox, Alexander, Marney, Elliott, Wallace, Iwelumo, Paterson
Subs: Grant, Cort, Cork, Edgar, Eagles, Rodriguez, Thompson
We do have to question though the rationale for this team selection and formation when you consider the pretty poor performance in the first 80 minutes against Preston on Saturday and for long periods in some of the other games. At times we are so sluggish building up an attack from midfield and often seem to get bogged down. We also seem to lack width with Iwelumo often isolated and ineffective up front, not getting the service he needs. Yes, he eventually scored a hat-trick but only when Eagles came on and Rodriguez partnered him up front. We also have to question whether Paterson`s role out wide is right for his talent. He had a bad day at the office on Saturday but I can`t help feeling he would be best used up front in partnership with Iwelumo in a 4-4-2 formation.
There is no doubt too we look a better shape with Cork and Eagles on the pitch but it is difficult to include both without sacrificing the captain or dropping another midfielder who is playing well I would select the following eighteen with two up front supported by Eagles and Wallace down the flanks:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Fox, Alexander, Eagles, Elliott, Wallace, Iwelumo, Paterson
Subs: Grant, Cort or Duff, Cork, Edgar, Marney, Rodriguez, Thompson
West Yorkshire referee, Jonathan Moss is in charge of this one. In the six league games he has been in charge of this season, the cards have been flowing freely. So far he has shown six yellow cards and sent three players off!
A well-earned point looks the most likely from this clash although we could sneak our first away win of the season. I will predict a 1-1 draw.
This Saturday (18th September) the Clarets are on the road again and this time travel to London to play Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park (Kick-Off 3pm)