The Clarets will be looking for their fourth consecutive victory in a row over Sheffield United next Saturday as they prepare for a visit to Bramall Lane. This ground of course was once a bogey stadium until our promotion season of 2008-9 when we inflicted three defeats on the Blades-once at Turf Moor, once at long last at Bramall Lane and once of course in the most important game of all at Wembley Stadium for the Play-Offs final. Can we make four in a row?
The Clarets are flying high at the moment in 6th spot and they will be keen to consolidate their position and move further up the table by getting their first League away win of the season. We have come close in our last two away games. We totally outplayed Crystal Palace but had to settle for a 0-0 draw and we might have come away with three points against Millwall at the Den in our last match (before the International break) had it not been for an atrocious referee sending off Clarke Carlisle in the seventh minute. Even then despite also losing Bikey to injury, we managed a 1-1 draw.
Sheffield United on the other hand under new manager, Gary Speed are having an indifferent season and currently lie in 19th spot. Their home form in particular is questionable and this could be an opportunity for the Clarets to inflict more pain on the Yorkshire club. They have played five league games at home and have only managed two victories against fellow strugglers, Preston and Portsmouth. They have gone down heavily to QPR (0-3) and Scunthorpe (0-4) and lost 1-0 to Watford in their last home game. The Blades though may have other ideas against the Clarets and we will need to be on our guard bearing in mind too that despite the gap in league position, Sheffield United are still only five points behind Burnley!
Sheffield United Team News:
19 year old Blades defender Kyle Bartley who is on loan from Arsenal is sidelined after suffering a fractured cheekbone in the recent game away to Nottingham Forest. He could be out of action for two months.
Sheffield United completed the loan signing of 22 year old Argentine defender Elian Parrino from Estudiantes at the end of last month and he is still looking to make his second debut for the club after playing for them in a pre-season friendly at Bramall Lane.
Jamie Ward will also miss the match after being straight red-carded in the local derby at Elland Road last month. He sits out the third of his three-match ban. He must be sick and tired of the Clarets, we all know what happened to him at Wembley!
Player to watch: Stephan Jordan
The Blades have no striker in the Npower Championship Top Scorers table which currently lists fifteen players who have scored 4 goals or more so let`s take a look at their defence instead and a player all Clarets fans know well, Stephen Jordan. Brian Laws released Jordan in the summer and it had been thought he would join our former gaffer, Steve Cotterill at Portsmouth. Instead he signed a one-year contract with Sheffield United and it will be interesting to see if our wingers can give him a torrid time!
Burnley Team News:
One player who will definitely miss this game is Clarke Carlisle. He starts the first of a three-match ban after picking up a straight red in our last match against Millwall at the Den. Burnley appealed against the decision but lost although thankfully Carlisle did not suffer an additional one-match ban suggesting the atrocious referee wasn`t totally in the clear!
Brian Laws will also be hoping that Andre Bikey will be fully fit after picking up a rib injury in the same Millwall game. Scans showed there was no break just bad bruising and Bikey is currently out in Cameroon for their African Cup of Nations qualifier against DR Congo on Saturday 9th October. He should hopefully be back in the starting eleven to face the Blades.
We also have to hope all the other Clarets on International duty come back fully fit so that would include Chris Iwelumo, Jack Cork and David Edgar as well as Andre Bikey.
Player to watch: Wade Elliott
Sheffield United will be wary of him after what he did to them at Wembley so it is time for the midfielder to shine again. He did well against Millwall in the last game and he also took on the additional role of captain following the sending-off of Carlisle. Elliott did well to keep his team in the match and help them secure a vital point despite being down to ten-men. He may well have captaincy duties again but it`s his play on the pitch that will hopefully be a handful in particular for the Blades
Team & Tactics
Michael Duff will be favourite to replace the suspended Clarke Carlisle for this clash although Leon Cort may have something to say about that. Cort`s best bet though may be to hope that Andre Bikey has not yet fully recovered from his rib injury but that looks a long-shot at the moment.
With vice-captain Carlisle sidelined, what will Laws decide to do in relation to the team captain? Current captain, Graham Alexander has not featured recently having to be content with a place on the bench with Jack Cork taking over the holding midfield role. Could Laws be tempted to bring back the captain or will someone else be given the captain`s armband? Wade Elliott took on the role against Millwall after Carlisle was sent off.
I would hope we continue with Cork in the holding midfield role and I suspect we will line up similar to last time except for Duff coming in to replace Carlisle. David Edgar could step back into the eighteen on the bench.
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Fox, Cork, Eagles, Elliott, Marney, Rodriguez, Iwelumo
Subs: Grant, Cort, Alexander, Edgar, Wallace, Paterson, Thompson
Well until 2008-9, Bramall Lane was a bit of a taboo ground. In our promotion season though we beat Sheffield United THREE times including of course the most important at Wembley in the Play-Offs final! However at Bramall Lane we inflicted a 3-2 defeat on the Blades in an exciting match that meant we had won on this ground for the first time since the 25th August 1973!
So is the taboo finally broken and can we win our first away win of the season? I think so, 2-1 Clarets!
We have a home game against Barnsley on the night of Tuesday 19th October (Kick-Off 7:45pm) followed by another match at Turf Moor on Saturday 23rd October with Reading the visitors. (Kick-Off 3pm)