The Clarets will be trying to get their play-offs hopes back on track tonight following a terrible 4-2 defeat at home against Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday at Turf Moor. They face a short trip to the seaside to play Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
Setting the Scene
Burnley`s run of six games without defeat came to an abrupt end on Saturday with the Owls thumping the Clarets 4-2 at Turf Moor in a match in which we looked totally clueless with the team making numerous schoolboy errors in the defence with the attack virtually non-existent.
Clarets fans were truly despondent after this match but the writing had been on the wall in the previous two games where the only consolation was getting a point in each of the two 1-1 draws against Coventry at home and Norwich away. The team looked jaded and under par in both those games and it was perhaps surprising that Coyle named the same sixteen for the Owls clash.
The result on Saturday though hardly instils much confidence for the chances of victory against local rivals, Blackpool tonight but we need to focus on improving our defence and hope the goals will come at the other end.
We are still within a chance of reaching the play-offs after other results went our way over the weekend but it is getting tighter and tighter. The Clarets are currently 9th on 52 points just two behind 6th placed Bristol City but with other teams in the mix having games in hand.
Blackpool have not won a game now in their last five matches and have lost their last three home games. They are currently in 20th spot on just 39 points with the relegation spots staring them in the face being only five points ahead of third from bottom club, Southampton. They will however have been buoyed by a point in a 0-0 draw away to promotion chasing Bristol City in their last match.
The Clarets dire performance on Saturday led to Coyle saying after the game that he would have to ring the changes but what are his options in a squad limited by size and player`s availability and current form?
One wonders also whether the gaffer might have his eye on the match after Blackpool, the high profile FA Cup 5th round clash against Arsenal at the Emirates this Sunday. We know for that match that Duff will be suspended after picking up a fifth yellow against the Owls, just one day before the FA Amnesty kicked in. Rhys Williams will also be cup-tied after Middlesbrough have insisted he doesn`t play in the FA Cup games since they too are still in the competition.
Owen Coyle was going to ring the changes anyway and the defence was the main weak spot in our last match so will he take the opportunity to play a back four that could also face Arsenal and allow them to bed themselves in at Bloomfield Road tonight? That would be a risky strategy bearing in mind our play-offs chances could be jeopardised but what are the options?
Both Duff and Caldwell had shockers on Saturday, Williams had his worst game so far for the Clarets and Jordan was arguably our best defender. It would make sense to me, to drop Duff to the bench, move Jordan to the centre and bring back Kalvenes at left back. Rhys Williams could then retain his right back role and Alexander could take up a holding midfield position. Clarke Carlisle has not featured for sometime in the sixteen but was dropped due to poor performances. He return at centre back but I would leave him out and maybe consider him for the Arsenal game if the back four against Blackpool fails to deliver.
The other problem is in attack. Paterson has looked tired and ineffective in the last few games but despite that fact, Coyle seems to stick with him. He really should be rested in my opinion with Jay Rodriguez given the opportunity to start. Thompson was not much better against the Owls but I don`t think we can drop both target men.
I am also still trying to work out in my own mind whether Chris Eagles is totally fit yet after suffering from a chest infection. It does appear that Coyle doesn`t want to risk giving the player a full 90 minutes at the moment and I suspect that once more he could be on the bench.
On balance, although I don`t expect Coyle will agree, I would choose the following sixteen:
Jensen, Williams, Caldwell, Jordan, Kalvenes, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Rodriguez, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Paterson, Eagles
Blackpool Team News:
On loan striker, Roy O’Donovan will be available and he looks set for a return
There is a doubt that defender Ian Evatt will be fit enough to play after picking up a heavy blow to his knee in the game against Bristol City. The Tangerines caretaker boss Tony Parkes will assess the player before naming his sixteen.
Player to watch: Paul Rachubka
US born keeper Paul Rachubka had a brief spell at Turf Moor in 2004 but did not get to play a game for the Clarets with Stan Ternent having signed him on loan from Charlton Athletic bizarrely then choosing to ignore the player.
After numerous periods out on loan and a spell at Huddersfield, he signed for Blackpool initially on loan in January 2007 before penning a permanent deal in June of the same year.
The 27 year old keeper was recently sent off three minutes into Blackpool`s match against Palace away in January this year giving an opportunity for Matthew Gilks to make his debut and be given a spell in the starting eleven. Until the Bristol City game though, Blackpool leaked 10 goals in four games and Gilks was dropped in favour of Rachubka for the match at Ashton Gate. It seemed to work with Bristol City unable to get a goal in the 0-0 draw with Parkes saying after the game:
‘Our back four and keeper were outstanding`
Clarets fans will be hoping the keeper won`t be picking up such praise come the final whistle tonight.
Burnley Team News:
Owen Coyle does not appear to have any additional injury worries for tonight`s game and there are no suspensions for this match. His main worry will be to decide which changes to make to the team having said he will ring the changes following the dreadful performance against the Owls.
His choice of sixteen will be anybody`s guess but we can certainly expect some changes in the back four although options are limited with only Kalvenes and Carlisle additional players available for inclusion in defence. None of those options inspire much more confidence over the back four that played on Saturday so it will be interesting to see who Coyle drops and who comes in and in what position.
Player to watch: Steven Caldwell
Caldwell himself had a poor game against the Owls on Saturday but I can`t see how Coyle will be prepared to drop his captain on the basis of one bad performance. Indeed the captain could be crucial to restoring confidence to the side and ensuring in particular that the defence is tightened up and basic errors are avoided.
Last Time We Met
The Clarets convincingly beat our local rivals, 2-0 earlier in the season at Turf Moor. Paterson and Alexander got the goals in this game back in September last year.
Clarets fans will not want to be reminded though about our last game at Bloomfield Road. Last season, the Tangerines beat Burnley 3-0 on a miserable day out at the seaside for Clarets fans. The game was made even more miserable by Clarets fans having to tolerate the atrocious away end facilities in this shambolic half-a-ground. There doesn`t appear to have been much improvement this season either so the Clarets fans will have to ensure they don`t get too excited in the rickety golf-stand provided or it might collapse!
Lancashire referee, Lee Mason will be in charge of this Lancashire derby!
Let`s just bloody win this one 2-1 and give our long-suffering fans of late something to cheer about!
It`s the big one this Sunday (8th March). The Clarets face Arsenal at the Emirates in the FA Cup 5th Round clash. Don`t forget the early kick-off time of 1:30pm.