Date: 6th March 2009 at 11:13am
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The Clarets will be hoping to progress to the FA Cup Quarter Final this Sunday but face another mountain to climb if they are to play Hull City at Turf Moor in the 6th Round.

Another trip to London on Sunday (8th March) this time pitches the Clarets against Arsenal at the Emirates in the FA Cup 5th Round tie with the game kicking off at the early time of 1:30pm. Those fans without a ticket for the match will be able to watch the game on Setanta Sports.

Setting the Scene

This season has certainly been the one for taking Premier League scalps as far as Burnley have been concerned. In addition to knocking out West Brom in the FA Cup 4th Round following a replay at Turf Moor, in the Carling Cup they have also added the London scalps of Fulham, Chelsea and indeed Arsenal albeit their youngsters. Tottenham Hotspur were also nearly added to that list following that remarkable comeback to lead 3-0 at Turf Moor in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg tie after 90 minutes following the 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane. The Clarets however could not hold on in extra time falling to two late goals ensuring that it would be Spurs who would be making the Wembley trip.

We have however now won a game against Premier League London clubs in four out of five matches leading to the concept of Capital Punishment and all Clarets fans will now be hoping we can bring back capital punishment this Sunday with Arsenal once more sent to the scaffold this time in front of their home crowd.

Back in December last year, the Young Gunners came to Turf Moor in the Carling Cup Quarter Final and were outgunned by the Clarets losing 2-0.

However this time our task will be even more monumental. Arsenal will be fielding virtually a full-strength team and will have home advantage. Owen Coyle though has made it plain he will take the game to the Gunners by adopting an attacking style which is fair enough but it will be our defence, often shaky in recent games that will have to be on top form.

Our defence will also have to hold up without two players who normally would probably have been selected. On loan defender, Rhys Williams will not be able to play. His club, Middlesbrough are still in the FA Cup and indeed play their 6th round tie against Everton at Goodison Park in the later game on Sunday. Gareth Southgate has insisted Rhys can`t play for the Clarets in the competition because they don`t want him cup-tied in case they have to recall him back to the team.

The other casualty in Michael Duff, he sadly picked up his fifth yellow in the home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday at Turf Moor last Saturday, one day before the FA amnesty kicked in. His automatic one match suspension will mean he will miss the high-profile clash at the Emirates.

Duff had a poor game against the Owls and he was omitted from the sixteen selected for the Blackpool game in midweek at Bloomfield Road. Coyle though may have had in mind the Arsenal game, wanting to bed in an alternative back four ahead of the clash at the Emirates knowing that Duff would not be available anyway. Clarke Carlisle was recalled to the starting eleven for the Blackpool match for the first time in nine games and assured himself of a place against Arsenal after a stunning man of the match performance in the centre of defence along with the equally effective Steven Caldwell. Kalvenes was preferred to Jordan at left back and also looks assured of keeping his place at the Emirates after he scored the late winning goal in the 1-0 defeat of Blackpool. The only problem appears to be at right back, Rhys Williams played against Blackpool but won`t be eligible to play on Sunday and with Duff suspended the only alternative is to play Graham Alexander in that position which will mean that the 4-1-4-1 formation with the holding midfield option will not be possible.

Owen Coyle might now be wondering whether he wished he had retained Remco van der Schaaf in the squad rather than send him out on loan. Remco in holding midfield with Alexander at right back could have been a stronger option against the likes of Arsenal.

There were injury concerns after the wind-swept game at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night. Three players picked up similar dead-leg injuries but the good news is that Jensen, Paterson and McDonald have all recovered and will be available to play against the Gunners.

Coyle looks to have available therefore a full squad to choose from and with seven substitutes allowed appears to have a number of options. Wade Elliott was dropped from the starting eleven against Blackpool along with Steven Thompson although both did come on from the bench in the second half. The gaffer will probably stick to a similar starting eleven albeit without Williams and of course will have to play 4-4-2 with Alexander in the back four rather than holding midfield.

A possible 4-4-2 line up and eighteen could be as follows:

Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Elliott, McDonald, McCann, Eagles, Blake, Paterson

Subs: Penny, Jordan, Gudjonsson, Mahon, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Thompson

The Clarets will be up against it, no matter which eighteen Coyle selects with Arsenal expected to field virtually a full strength first team. One advantage though could be the fact they have an important Champions League game coming up against Roma in midweek and might have their thoughts more on that game. Arsene Wenger has certainly been whinging this week saying he would have preferred our FA Cup clash to be played on Saturday not Sunday so they would have more time to prepare ahead of their Wednesday return leg with Roma in the Italian capital. Let`s hope they hold themselves back a bit on Sunday fearful of injury and missing the high profile Champions League match. I somehow doubt it though!

Arsenal Team News:

This is best summed up by listening to the quotes from Arsene Wenger yesterday ahead of the game:

‘I will see how Walcott and Eduardo look tomorrow and Saturday but they will certainly be in the squad, especially Theo. We have to wait and see how Eduardo reacts and responds to his injury.

‘We are quite optimistic about Kolo Toure, who had to be replaced during the midweek win over West Brom due to a calf injury but we have to assess the situation today completely.

‘I don’t think I will involve him on Sunday. But [William] Gallas should be back for Sunday and it looks to be like Kolo will be back for next week [against Roma].

‘Adebayor is definitely out for Sunday and for Roma.”

‘Sunday is a big game for us and rotation will be there for some players who have played full games. Fabianski will continue in goal and we will try to have a good balance. The most important thing for us is not to think about Roma but to focus on this game and qualify”

Player to watch: All of Them, Silly!!

What a great chance for the Clarets to impress against some of the top players in the Premier League. Go out and enjoy it lads and do us all proud.

Burnley Team News:

Michael Duff is suspended (fifth yellow) and Rhys Williams is not eligible at Middlesbrough`s insistence. Brian Jensen, Martin Paterson and Kevin McDonald though have all recovered from similar knocks (dead legs) picked up in the midweek game against Blackpool.

Player to watch: Martin Paterson

Owen Coyle has stuck by Pato through thick and thin this season despite him looking distinctly jaded and off the pace recently. Most Clarets fans think he should have been rested by now.

Assuming he is selected again having recovered from a dead leg, he will be crucial to our chances of winning this match and we need him to be in top form.

Last Time We Met

Up until January 2008, the Clarets had not played Arsenal in any competition since December 1975. In the top flight back then in what was then called the First Division, we lost 1-0 at Highbury having earlier that year drawn 0-0 at Turf Moor. This was going to be a bad season for the Clarets and we finished second from bottom being relegated along with Wolves and Sheffield United. We have not returned to the top flight since.

Over 30 years later, the next game between the two sides was at Turf Moor in the FA Cup 3rd Round on Sunday 6th January 2008. In a controversial, memorable match, Burnley did themselves proud but already 1-0 down after a ninth minute goal by Eduardo were reduced to ten men after just 30 minutes when Kyle Lafferty was sent off for an over-the-top challenge on Gilberto Silva. The cameras seemed to suggest that it was not a clear cut foul and could have been a harsh decision but nevertheless the decision stood and eventually we lost 2-0 to the Gunners with Nicklas Bendtner rounded Kiraly on 75 minutes to double Arsenal’s advantage.

Almost 12 months later and Arsenal were the visitors to Turf Moor again this time in the Carling Cup Quarter Final on the night of Tuesday 2nd December 2008. Now we were up against the impressive young guns that had previously knocked out Premier League Wigan 3-0 and thumped the Blades 6-0 in both cases at the Emirates. This time though it would be the Clarets who would have the upper hand with Jensen in superb form and Kevin McDonald getting a brace with a goal in each half to ensure a 2-0 victory.

Match Prediction:

Is it conceivable we can beat a full-strength Arsenal side in front of their home crowd? Anything is possible based on our incredible performances against Premier League sides in cup competitions this season but this really is our biggest mountain to climb to date. The heart is saying we can do it, the brain is saying don`t be silly, exactly the same as it was against Chelsea and the younger version of Arsenal. Indeed, the heart also nearly won against Spurs in the Carling Cup Semi-Final second leg at Turf Moor but alas that same heart was broken with two minutes of extra time to play.

Well I suppose a draw and a replay is not inconceivable but do we really need yet another game as we seek to finish in the play-offs places having already played 47 games?

Oh what the hell, I will go with my heart and a 2-1 victory!

Next Match

Back to the Championship and maintaining our play-offs hopes with a match against Crystal Palace at Turf Moor in a rearranged game on Wednesday 11th March (7:45pm KO)

The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday night but was put back a night once it was known we would be playing at the Emirates on the previous Sunday.