The Clarets enter the New Year hoping to get their first points of 2008 on the table as they travel to the seaside for the local derby against Championship new boys, Blackpool in this New Year Day`s clash.
It has been the usual traditional bleak Christmas for the Clarets with only one point from two home games over the festive season and no win at Turf Moor now since October against Norwich with only six home wins in total during the whole of 2007!
We are almost pleased to be playing away from home these days and haven`t lost on the road now since October.
New gaffer, Owen Coyle has not yet tasted defeat away from home with three wins and one draw since arriving at the club.
It has been our away form that has kept us in contention for a play-offs position and even now with 34 points from 25 games although in 11th position we are still only 4 points away from the 6th placed club, Plymouth.
It is a sobering fact though that we haven`t won now in five games, home or away and it`s time to redress the balance against the Satsumas!
We will also have to do it with a number of injuries and suspensions still although there is some good news on that front. The bad news first! Clarke Carlisle will miss this match due to his hamstring problem which again flared up in our last match against Bristol City and in midfield; Gudjonsson and Spicer sit out their last game of a four and three match ban respectively following their straight red sending-off. Michael Duff and Besart Berisha are also of course still unavailable recovering from long-term cruciate ligament injuries.
The good news though is that Chris McCann is now available after completing a three-match ban following his red-card dismissal in the Preston match. Graham Alexander also returns following a one-match ban against Bristol City after he picked up a fifth yellow card. There is also at least a chance that both Alan Mahon and Andy Gray could return from injury with both facing late fitness tests.
There are quite a few ‘ifs and buts` there, making a prediction for the sixteen difficult. Ade Akinbiyi had a pretty good game against Bristol City and hit the woodwork three times. He was unlucky on the day and he would be unlucky too if he was dropped back to the bench to make way for Andy Gray. A possible sixteen though could be as follows assuming Gray and Mahon don`t make it:
Kiraly, Alexander, Caldwell, Unsworth, Harley, Elliott, McCann, James O`Connor, Lafferty, Blake, Akinbiyi
Subs: Jensen, Jordan, Jones, Garreth O`Connor, Rodriguez
Blackpool have not exactly taken the league by storm this season and are currently languishing in 17th place with 30 points. They will however have been buoyed up by their away win against Colchester in their last game and the 4-0 thumping of Coventry in their last home match.
However this is a derby match and owt could happen! Let`s hope our away form can be maintained and we can get 2008 off with a bang and secure all three points.
‘What we have to do is stay strong in what we believe in; stay resilient and make sure we are still in there creating those chances.
We are creating enough and the sooner we start taking them, the better for everybody.
‘There are a lot of games at the moment, but it is the same for both sides.
‘We went into the last game without eight players, but as it is we should have a couple back for Blackpool and hopefully one or two more fit.’
Blackpool Team News:
Winger and leading ‘Pool scorer Wes Hoolahan is doubtful with a tight hamstring.
Defender (and Singer?) Michael Jackson looks set to keep his place whilst striker Keigan Parker might be brought back into the sixteen.
Player to watch: Scott Vernon
A Scott Vernon brace helped Blackpool defeat Colchester 2-0 at Layer Road in their last match.
Burnley Team News:
Clarke Carlisle sidelined with a niggling hamstring problem.
Gudjonsson and Spicer still suspended but Chris McCann now available after completing his three-match ban.
Alan Mahon and Andy Gray not completely ruled out yet and in with a fighting chance.
Player to watch: James O’Connor
James O’Connor has been a rock in midfield in his last two games picking up the Man of the Match award for the Clarets in each case.
Last Time We Met
You have to go back to March 2000 for the last time these two teams played at Bloomfield Road with a 1-1 draw the outcome.
We secured a 3-0 victory at Turf Moor in the League Cup against the Seasiders in Sept 2002 but this season could only manage a 2-2 draw at home in the League back in September 2007 with Jones and Akinbiyi scoring for the Clarets.
A.Marriner. Very apt at the seaside!
My heart thinks we could shade this match 1-0 or 2-1. My brain because of the injuries and suspensions is shouting 1-1 draw. Depends if Gray and Mahon return.
The Biggy-Arsenal in the FA Cup Third Round at Turf Moor, Sunday 6th January with a 2:15 pm KO