The International break is over and the Clarets return to their Premier League campaign on Saturday with a juicy away trip to Anfield. Yes after defeating both Manchester United and Everton 1-0 at home but losing 3-0 against Chelsea, we now play Liverpool to complete the sequence of four consecutive games against a club finishing in the top 5 of the Premier League last season. It has certainly been a baptism of fire and a season so far in which most fans and punters would not have expected newly promoted Burnley to currently be sitting in 10th spot with six points already in the bag.
Liverpool are celebrating the release of fan Michael Shields at the moment and he could be invited to the match on Saturday. If so Clarets fans will be hoping for some party pooping and a point or three from this tough clash. It won`t be easy but you never know another upset could be on the cards silencing those media punters convinced that we are going to be relegated.
Predicted Team Sheet
In our last game at Stamford Bridge, we were totally outclassed by a side in awesome form and even at this early stage one looking likely to be League Champions. We simply have to forget about that game and try and remember we won`t be playing Chelsea every week, he says with 7th place Liverpool on the horizon! They won`t have the fluidity of Chelsea though and have looked vulnerable on occasions this season.
Despite the mauling by Chelsea, Owen Coyle could still select a similar eighteen for the Liverpool clash and apart from Steven Caldwell who is still recovering from a groin injury, Coyle has virtually the whole squad to choose from.
The big question on everybody`s lips is whether new loan striker, David Nugent will start for the Clarets or even be named on the bench. He needs match practice after being out of contention at Portsmouth although he did impress in his Clarets debut in the ‘Save our Stanley` friendly against Accy in midweek. He did not score but was looking hungry and lively and comments on the Burnley FC Official site strongly suggest he could be in with a chance of making the eighteen for Anfield.
Jay Rodriguez playing a more central midfield role got a brace against Accrington Stanley but has struggled to even make the eighteen this season and his selection chances have now been made even harder with the arrival of Nugent. Another casualty up front appears to be Steven Thompson who again has tended to be on the bench this season with Coyle preferring Paterson and Fletcher.
In my opinion the weaker of the strikers at the moment is Paterson and he badly needs a goal. He seems to have got into the habit of panicking in front of goal. He should have scored against Chelsea after Mears pounced on a Lampard mistake and by all accounts he missed two great opportunities for Northern Ireland in midweek in their World Cup qualifier against Slovakia, a game they lost 2-0 at Windsor Park.
There are so many options now in attack it is difficult to predict what Coyle will do against a side the calibre of Liverpool. Will he be more defensive or more attack minded? If the latter he could choose 4-3-3 with Paterson, Fletcher and Nugent up front but I suspect he will be more cautious and adopt 4-1-4-1 or 4-1-3-2.
Michael Duff appears to have now fully recovered from his ankle injury and played the full 90 minutes in the midweek friendly but competition is also strong in the back four and he could struggle to be in contention. Chris Eagles and Fernando Guerrero also put in impressive, lively performances against Accy but have they done enough for a starting eleven spot against Liverpool? I suspect not.
I will predict the eighteen as follows although I am not necessarily in full agreement with this selection and think Paterson should be on the bench or even be rested.
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Paterson, Fletcher
Subs from: Penny, Kalvenes, Duff, Edgar, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Guerrero, Eagles, Nugent, Rodriguez, Thompson
Liverpool Team News:
Rafa Benitez has to decide whether to play fit-again defender Fabio Aurelio or stick with left back Emiliano Insua. Aurelio, the 29-year-old Brazilian has missed Liverpool`s opening four games following knee surgery.
Javier Mascherano (Argentina) and Lucas Leiva (Brazil have both been on international duty in South America this week only returning on Friday for training. They might find themselves on the substitutes’ bench therefore. Mascherano though is a major doubt after picking up a knock in Argentina’s 1-0 defeat to Paraguay on Wednesday night.
Yossi Benayoun, Albert Riera and Ryan Babel are also all in competition for the left-wing spot.
£18million new signing Alberto Aquilani looks likely to miss out but is due back in training before the end of the month following surgery on his ankle in the summer
Player to watch: All of Them!
Yeah I know I am fed up of saying it too but when you have a team with Gerrard, Carragher, Johnson and Torres in the side amongst others how do you select one danger man? At least they don`t have Xabi Alonso now after his move to Real Madrid and many feel this move is one of the reasons why Liverpool are struggling to hit top form this season.
Burnley Team News:
Michael Duff is available again after recovering from his ankle injury and playing 90 minutes in the midweek ‘Save our Stanley` friendly. The only injury we still have is Steven Caldwell. The captain has yet to play for the Clarets this season after picking up a groin strain in Scotland`s World Cup qualifying game against Norway in Oslo which took place in the week before the Premier League season kicked off. Owen Coyle has virtually a full squad to choose from therefore and it will be interesting to see if he risks playing new loan David Nugent at some point against Liverpool following his impressive midweek debut against Accrington Stanley.
Player to watch: David Nugent
There is a strong hint that David Nugent could make his full League debut for the Clarets on Saturday or at the very least be named on the bench. Clarets fans will be keen to see how well he performs against top flight opposition and whether he can finally start to hit the back of the net after a torrid time at Pompey.
Back to the Future
It is 33 years since we last played Liverpool in a league match and in 1975-76, the year we were relegated from the top flight, not only did we play them in the league but also knocked them out of the League Cup.
We drew 1-1 at Anfield and in the third-round replay at Turf Moor on the Tuesday night of 14th October 1975 came out winners 1-0 in front of a 20,022 crowd. Peter Noble scored from the spot in the 44th minute and indeed a week earlier also scored in the game at Anfield after 48 minutes. Liverpool had been runners-up the season before and were destined to be Champions by the end of the 1975-76 season so this was no mean achievement although we were lucky to win. Jimmy Adamson in his programme notes said of the match “We did not play well by any stretch of the imagination and were lucky to win but this only balanced up some bad fortune on two or three recent occasions”
The league match against Liverpool in that season at Turf Moor took place on Saturday December 6th 1975 just a few weeks before Adamson resigned to be replaced by Joe Brown. The game played in front of an 18425 crowd finished 0-0 and that day we lined up as follows:
Peyton, Scott, Newton, Ingham, Waldron, Thomson, Summerbee, Kennerley, Hankin, Flynn, Bradshaw .Sub: Loggie (Did not get on!)
In the return leg at Anfield, played in front of 36708 fans on Saturday 27th March 1976, we lost 2-0. Our team that night was:
Peyton, Docherty, Newton, Noble, Waldron, Rodaway, Morley, Flynn, Hankin, Fletcher, Summerbee. Sub: Ingham (Did not get on!)
It would also prove to be Colin Waldron`s last game for the club. He was given a free transfer at the end of the season and joined Manchester United.
Liverpool in those days had a number of big names in their squad as they do now but just look at this list-Ray Clemence, Phil Neal, Phil Thompson, Emlyn Hughes, Ray Kennedy, Kevin Keegan, Brian Hall, Steve Heighway. John Toshack and Ian Callaghan. Not bad to play them in a relegation season four times, Win 1, draw 2 and lose just 1!
We have of course played them in cup competitions since 1975-76 and indeed played them a remarkable nine times in either the FA Cup or League Cup. In one season, 1994-95 we played them in both the FA Cup and League Cup and lost out both times over four games. In those nine games we failed to win a single one at Anfield and in total have lost six, drawn 1 and won 2 (both at Turf Moor)
You have to go back to the 1974-75 season for the last time we beat Liverpool at Anfield. Ian Brennan scored a memorable goal in the 37th minute in our league game on 24th September 1974. The final score was 1-0 and whenever you think of Ian Brennan you always think of that goal, a 30 yard screamer.
Bolton referee Lee Mason is in charge and Clarets fans will be hoping he has improved after those memorable cock-ups he made when we went down 3-2 at tome to Preston in 2007/8. He was also the referee in control (if that`s the right word!) when Preston were again the visitors last season although this time he made amends by making cock-ups the other way giving Alan Irvine more to complain about this time round. If you think this referee is full of wind, then he was the last time he was in charge of a game featuring the Clarets! Remember our 1-0 win at Blackpool last season and Jensen`s attempt to take a goal-kick under gale force conditions? Yep, he was the referee that let the game continue despite the farcical weather that night.
Liverpool of course were runners up last season and by their standards they have had a relatively poor start to this season after high expectations. Burnley will certainly be hoping to exploit their shaky start. Aston Villa came away from Anfield with a 3-1 win recently although Liverpool earlier in the season thumped Stoke 4-0 on home soil so the scene is set for an intriguing game.
I honestly think an upset could be on the cards here and we could sneak a point so I will go with 1-1 hoping we might even shade it 2-1. (What am I saying?)
In what seems like ages we return to Turf Moor for a League match with Sunderland the visitors on Saturday 19th September. Fans are reminded this will be televised by Sky and is the early 12:45 pm kick off match