Date: 14th November 2011 at 5:37pm
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Will the Clarets be able to contain Leeds United at Turf Moor this Saturday and bring to an end their losing streak? We review the match ahead.

The Pre-amble:

Burnley face Leeds United at Turf Moor this Saturday in a live BBC 1 televised match which kicks-off early at 12:45pm.

The Clarets will be looking to avoid their third consecutive defeat in this War of the Roses clash and of course it is certainly never comfortable losing to our Yorkshire rivals so all Burnley fans will be hoping for a massive return to form on Saturday.

The only thing predictable about Burnley`s form at the moment is that it is unpredictable! The Clarets have been striving for consistency all season but simply seem incapable of finding it. We have had some excellent performances and results only to then suffer a slump with the cycle repeating itself over and over again. International breaks have been a bit of a bind for Burnley as well. In the previous two this season we have looked in top form before them only to be woeful after them! We shall just have to hope this time we can reverse that trend bearing in mind this time our poor performances occurred just before the break.

The main problem for most of the season seems to have been our defence. Let`s face it at times it is shambolic and nobody in their right mind would ever bet on the team keeping a clean sheet with just one so far now in over 30 games.

The slumps sadly seem to be hurting the most at the moment with the club now in 18th spot and getting dangerously closer to the drop zone. We are just five points clear of third-form-bottom club Bristol City and it was the Robins who beat the Clarets 3-1 at Ashton Gate in our last game just before the International break to record their first home win of the season. After the highs of beating Coventry at the Ricoh and then Blackpool at Turf Moor, our form reversed and we have now suffered two league defeats on the bounce losing 3-1 at home to Leicester before going down to the Robins. We do still have that game in hand against Birmingham at St Andrews but that certainly won`t be an easy place to pick up points and indeed it`s the next match up following the Leeds clash.

It just shows how vital three points are going to be on Saturday. We would certainly not want to play Birmingham on their home soil trying to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat knowing our game in hand is now also being used up with the bottom three places getting ever closer.

Leeds United in contrast are currently just outside the play-offs on goal difference in 7th spot; a position most Clarets fans would die for. It just goes to show though how some clubs are never satisfied with Leeds chairman, Ken Bates recently putting manager, Simon Grayson under pressure after saying:

“There are discussions going on this week, heart-searching in the backroom to decide what we can do to improve the situation because we should be higher than we are.”

You just wonder what Barry Kilby is saying to Eddie Howe at the moment with the club in 18th spot. Finishing 8th last season was considered a failure but you just sense these days all those ambitions of reaching the play-offs have been written off this season.

Leeds form though has also been inconsistent despite their loftier position and they have won two, drawn two and lost two of their last six games. As mentioned above, they got an embarrassing 5-0 tonking at home by Blackpool but after that they then picked themselves up to beat Leicester City 1-0 away just before the International break.

In a way then, here we have two inconsistent teams with both sets of fans probably wondering which team is going to show up on Saturday! Leeds would be the bookies favourite no doubt but somehow the Clarets have to come back strongly and fight for those vital three points.

Burnley Team News:

Martin Paterson (thigh), Danny Ings (cartilage) and Brian Jensen (groin) are all still sidelined but there is no news of any further injury concerns following our last game away to Bristol City. Hopefully also if there were any players carrying niggly injuries, they will have had time to recover in the two week break.

David Edgar has been on International duty for Canada and could play his second game of the break in the reverse fixture against St Kitts & Nevis in Toronto on Tuesday. He played in the away fixture on Friday helping his side secure a 0-0 draw in their CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers thus ensuring progress to the next stage of the competition.

He will be flying back in time for the Leeds clash and is likely to be selected providing he returns uninjured and has recovered from the effects of any jet-lag. The previous two times, he has walked straight back into the team after being on duty for Canada and flying back a few days before each game.

Player to watch: Junior Stanislas

Stanislas has so far flattered to deceive in a Clarets shirt since arriving from West Ham. He really does need to get some good games under his belt and play with some consistency. Some of his crosses have been outstanding leading to some good goals but far too often he seems to go AWOL and become the invisible man not unlike a few others this season, most notably Keith Treacy who is competing against Stanislas for a place out on the wing. With both wingers not firing on all cylinders but with Stanislas getting more starts, Junior really needs to start earning that place rather than simply being the better of two underperforming flank men.

Leeds United Team News:

20 year old defender, Tom Lees returns after a one-match ban. He saw red in Leeds recent heavy defeat against Blackpool at home. He was sent off for deliberate handball following an error by Paul Rachubka and missed out on their game at Leicester.

On-loan Reading and England Under 21 goalkeeper, Alex McCarthy looks set to retain his place following Simon Grayson`s decision to take Paul Rachubka out of the limelight for a few weeks following the horror show against Blackpool. McCarthy made his debut for Leeds against Leicester a week last Sunday.

Darren O’Dea could also still be sidelined with a head injury. The 24 year old Republic of Ireland international defender complained of dizzy spells and blurred vision during the recent game against Cardiff at the end of October and has missed the last two games.

Player to watch: Ross McCormack

The 25 year old Scotland international striker-cum-winger is currently Leeds top scorer this season with 10 goals in all competitions, 9 of them in the Championship. The former Rangers and Motherwell front man signed from Cardiff City in August 2010 for an undisclosed fee after agreeing a three-year contract. A fee of about £350,000 was thought to have been involved.

Team & Tactics:

My feeling is that Howe will still keep faith with the same sixteen that lost out to Bristol City in our last game He might though be tempted to play 4-4-2 from the start rather than experiment further with the 4-4-1-1 formation he used as his starting eleven against the Robins; a tactic which involved Wallace playing in the hole with Austin up front alone and Rodriguez out wide. That didn`t really work anyway and similar attempts during the season have also failed.

Amougou clearly seems to be out of favour despite many Clarets fans, including myself thinking he is probably our most solid back-four defender at the moment. Michael Duff missed out last time after returning to the bench in the Leicester game and making a brief cameo appearance as a striker. Duff too might help shore up our dodgy defence and lead by example but you just sense Howe will keep with his favoured back four of Trippier, Mee, Edgar and Easton.

I fully expect the team to look like this on Saturday despite my reservations regarding the defence.

Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Mee, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Bartley, Stanislas, Rodriguez, Austin

Subs: Stewart, Amougou or Duff, Marney, Treacy, Hines

Ref Watch:

Scott Mathieson will be the man in charge for this one.The Cheshire ref has taken charge of 16 games so far this season, showing 43 yellow cards (2.68 per game) and 1 red. He was the man in the middle this season for our MK Dons Carling Cup game

Match Prediction:

This is a tricky one to predict. You just never know which Burnley team is gong to turn up and after two poor consecutive defeats at home to Leicester and away to Bristol City before the international break, all Clarets fans will be hoping for a positive bounce back against our Yorkshire rivals.

Somehow we have to dig deep and try and regain the form we had recently at home against Blackpool before the mini-slump set in. I would be confident with that sort of form that we could beat Leeds but either way it will not be an easy game. Leeds recently lost 5-0 at home to Blackpool whereas we beat the Seasiders 3-1. That is typical of the Championship in that any team it seems is able to beat any other with the form book torn up time and time again. All you can glean from that is we have a chance of three points against Simon Grayson`s men. In Leeds we have a team though who love to attack against a team who at times struggle to defend and have a terrible difficulty in keeping a clean sheet. I must be mad therefore in predicting a 2-0 victory for the Clarets!

Next Match:

Burnley have two consecutive league games on the road following the Leeds clash. They face a tricky match against Birmingham City at St Andrews on the night of Tuesday 22nd November (Kick-Off 7:45pm) before embarking on a trip to Humberside to play Hull City at the KC Stadium on Saturday 26th November (Kick-Off 3pm)