Date: 18th August 2011 at 7:29am
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Burnley are still looking for their first league win of the season after a disappointing home draw in their opener against Watford and a poor 2-0 defeat against Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Next up they play Cardiff City this Saturday at Turf Moor.

The Pre-amble

The Clarets are cleanly struggling so far this season with so many departures and relatively few new signings. You would expect that though after losing the calibre of such players as Jack Cork, Chris Eagles, Tyrone Mears and Danny Fox. These are very worrying times and you could sense that Eddie Howe was less than ecstatic about the situation following his post-match interview on Radio Lancs following the 2-0 defeat and disappointing performance against the Eagles at Selhurst Park last Saturday. Howe was all bullish at the start of the pre-season hinting that we only needed 2-3 players to supplement his squad. You now have to contrast that with his latest downbeat statement on Radio Lancs in which he suggested his squad was now in transition and that a rebuilding exercise was underway. He also hinted that morale in the dressing room may also have been affected by the recent departures most notably Danny Fox so is against that background that we now have to pick ourselves up against Cardiff City this Saturday at Turf Moor.

19 year old striker, Danny Ings signed for the Clarets this week and there are reports we may have two more new faces by the time we face the Bluebirds on Saturday with strong rumours in the local media that West Ham striker Zavon Hines and Stoke defender Ryan Shotton are on their way to Turf Moor.

All Clarets fans though will be hoping jay Rodriguez will still be on our books after knocking back a £4.5 million bid from Southampton. Some Premier League clubs are also reported to be interested with some rumours flying around that Newcastle could be prepared to offer up to £7 million for the player. Brendan Flood will look pretty foolish now if they let him go after stating over the weekend ‘There is nothing that would tempt us,’ and slapping a ‘Not for Sale` sign on the player. I would hate to think what sort of reception the Board would get on Saturday if Jay Rod is no longer a Claret!

Cardiff City in contrast have had a much better start to the new season under new manager, Malky MacKay winning their opening two games although they did suffer a knock-back in midweek after losing 3-1 at home to high-flyers and new boys, Brighton . MacKay arrived in June this year replacing the sacked Dave Jones following the Bluebirds failure to win promotion via the play-offs. They beat one of the favourites for promotion, West Ham 1-0 at Upton Park in their opening game of the season and followed that up on Sunday with a 3-1 home win against local rivals, Bristol City. Cardiff also squeezed in a 3-1 victory away to Oxford United in the Carling Cup between the two league games so were clearly on a roll until they faced Brighton on Wednesday night. They did sit proudly at the top of the table on the same number of points and goal difference as Southampton until the midweek games but that shocker of a 3-1 home defeat has knocked them back down to 7th. The Clarets on the other hand, without a game in midweek have dropped down a place to 20th so they will be keen to get their first win under their belt on Saturday and avoid the potential psychological drop into the relegation places. Burnley may have a better chance now that the Bluebirds have had their wings clipped!!

Burnley Team News:

Marvin Bartley picked up an automatic three match suspension on Saturday after being shown a straight red card for violent conduct in the last minute of the game against Palace. The luckless Martin Paterson is also of course out of contention with another thigh injury and faces another 3 months out of the game. Eddie Howe admitted in the Radio Lancs interview that new signing ,Keith Treacy is also still nowhere near peak fitness which would explain why he was virtually ‘invisible` in our game at Palace last Saturday.

There is no news of any further injuries and by the time we face the Bluebirds we may have supplemented the squad. Danny Ings, who signed on Monday could be given his debut.

Player to watch: Danny Ings

Will Danny Ings be thrust straight into the first team to make his full debut for the Clarets or will the striker be given a place on the bench? He is only 19 and unproven at this level so Howe may well be tempted to err on the cautious side and name him on the bench. All eyes will be on the young forward though should he make his debut on Saturday. Zavon Hines could also be in the line-up though if we sign him in time so the options in attack could increase.

Cardiff City Team News:

Cardiff City midfielder Aron Gunnarsson had a MRI scan this week to discover the extent of his ankle injury. The Iceland international limped off during Cardiff`s 3-1 Championship win over Bristol City in the 10th minute to be replaced by Joe Mason. The scan confirmed he will now be sidelined for a week and will miss two games. He was therefore unavailable for Cardiff`s game against Brighton on Wednesday night and will also now miss the clash against Burnley.

Player to watch: Kenny Miller

The 31 year old Scotland international striker was signed from Turkish club, Bursaspor by Cardiff City in July for a reported fee of £870,000. Miller has of course also played for both Glasgow clubs but it was his second spell at Rangers where he was the most prolific scoring 49 goals in 81 appearances! In January 2011, the former Wolves and Derby forward left Rangers for Bursaspor for £400,000 on a two-and-a-half year contract

Team & Tactics

Eddie Howe could have a dilemma up front on Saturday with 19 year old striker, Danny Ings now on board after signing from Bournemouth on Monday. There is also a possibility we may have also signed Zavon Hines from West Ham if the rumours are true with reports that the club are just awaiting the results of a medical scan. For the moment though we will assume he has not been signed.

It looks like Jay Rodriguez will still be with us despite all the speculation and I suspect Howe may be tempted to now revert back to 4-4-2 after starting 4-5-1 against Palace at Selhurst Park last Saturday. Jay Rod looked a forlorn figure up front at times and things clearly were not working tactically against the Eagles.

One other issue relates to the choice of wingers. Keith Treacy had a very poor game against Palace and the gaffer admitted in the post-match interview on Radio Lancs that he was still someway away from being totally match fit. Wade Elliott reverted to the centre of midfield last Saturday with Wallace on the opposite flank to Treacy. The dilemma for Howe was that Elliott looked a lot sharper than he has on the flanks in recent games so would he be tempted to drop Treacy to the bench and put Elliott out wide again?

David Edgar also had a reasonable game in midfield against the Eagles although he must be wondering what he has to do to play in his regular spot at centre back. His chances of that could be even less if the rumours are true that Burnley are also looking to bring in centre back, Ryan Shotton from Stoke possibly on a permanent deal by the end of the week. There is unlikely to be any movement on that score though until Stoke complete their Europa League qualifier against Swiss Super League side FC Thun tonight in Switzerland. Realistically the signing if it goes ahead looks likely to be completed early next week so we will assume that in our team sheet prediction.

Clearly Howe could have a number of options but I suspect our line-up could look something like the following this Saturday:

Grant, Trippier, Mee, Amougou, Easton, Elliott, McCann, Marney (or Edgar), Wallace, Rodriguez, Austin

Subs: Jensen, Duff, Edgar (or Marney), Treacy, Ings

Ref Watch:

Stoke referee, Tony Bates is in charge of this one so he better be good if he wants to avoid ‘The referee is a ******’ (Master Bates)` chant.

Bates was last in charge of a game involving the Clarets last season in the Championship game at Watford last February. Hopefully that will be a good omen since we won that one 3-1 thanks to an own goal and one each from the since departed Chris Eagles now at Bolton and ironically, Chris Iwelumo who signed for the Hornets in the summer.

Match Prediction:

The Bluebirds have also been very active in the summer transfer window bringing in nine new faces including the likes of Robert Earnshaw, Kenny Miller and Aron Gunnarsson. However they also lost 12 players including Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra and Craig Bellamy.

You can see nothing other than defeat unless we suddenly start playing ten times better than we did in our first two games of the new Championship season. Burnley have always had the knack though of winning in the face of adversity and tend to play better against higher quality opposition so we will have to hope for such a situation again. Realistically best we can hope for I think though is a draw. I will go for 1-1 although Cardiff will be reeling after losing their 100% record following the home defeat to Brighton in midweek.

We will at least have one advantage. We had been scheduled to play Birmingham at St Andrews on Tuesday night but that game was postponed shortly after the fixtures were announced so we should be fresher on the Saturday compared to Cardiff who had the midweek game.

Next Match

Well there is the little matter of the Carling Cup 2nd Round game against Barnet at Turf Moor to be played on the night of Tuesday 23rd August but our next league game will be at Pride Park away to Derby County on Saturday 27th August (Kick-Off: 3pm)