Burnley face Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday hoping to put an end to their losing streak and win their first game in three matches.
The Clarets face the Sky Blues at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday and they WILL be sent to Coventry if they fail miserably again and lose their third league match in succession After two very poor performances in the Championship we have to find the form we had before the International break and try and get three points on the road against a pretty average side.
The drop zone is getting alarmingly close and we are now just three points off third from bottom albeit with a game in hand. We are currently 17th with just 12 points from 11 games. Somehow Eddie Howe has to motivate his team into action before confidence plummets and life becomes a struggle at the wrong end of the table. It is vital that even if we lose, we at least manage to put in a decent performance unlike the last two games.
Coventry are no great shakes and they are beatable if only we could find the form and play the way we did just a few weeks ago when we had league leaders, Southampton plus Nottingham Forest and Millwall at our beck and call picking up one draw and two wins in three excellent team performances.
Things have basically gone tits-up since the International break and we have been woeful both at home to Reading and away to Barnsley in our last two games so somehow we have to stop the rot and return to winning ways.
The Sky Blues are one point behind the Clarets having played a game more so they too are struggling to find some consistency. At home this season though their record is not too bad and they have not been beaten at the Ricoh since losing their opening game of the season 1-0 against Midlands rivals, Leicester City. Since that time they have won two and drawn three of their five home league games. Current Coventry boss, Andy Thorn was appointed manager in April 2011 after a brief spell as caretaker manager alongside Steve Harrison following the departure of Aidy Boothroyd. He helped the Sky Blues finish strongly last season. After a stuttering start to 2011-12 though he will be keen to try and get Coventry`s season back on track before they too drop closer towards the dreaded relegation zone. A return of 11 points from 12 games is their worst start in 11 years.
It should however be a close game between these two evenly matched sides on Saturday (at least based on league position) There can be only one winner though! Come on you Clarets!
Coventry City Team News:
Andy Thorn has no new injuries worries following their 1-1 draw at Leeds in midweek.
Defender Martin Cranie (ribs) and winger Gary McSheffrey (back) could be doubts but both will be checked for fitness ahead of the game. Midfielder, Carl Baker though is still sidelined with an ankle injury.
Player to watch: Lucas Jutkiewicz
The 22 year old striker is scoring at a rate of one every two games at the moment and is currently Coventry`s leading goal scorer this season. He has five goals to his name so far with all of them scored in the Championship. Clarets fans might also recall him from last season when he scored one of Coventry`s goals in the 2-2 draw at Turf Moor back in March.
Jutkiewicz started his professional career at Swindon after coming through his local club, Southampton`s youth system. Everton forked out £1 million for the player in March 2007 but in the end he managed just one senior appearance for the club over three years spending most of the time out on loan. He had loan spells at Plymouth, Huddersfield and Motherwell before signing for Coventry for an undisclosed fee in July 2010, and agreeing a three-year contract.
Burnley Team News:
There was an injury doubt concerning Lee Grant following the Barnsley game in midweek and with Jensen also still sidelined with a groin problem that could have led to a major headache for Eddie Howe. Grant however has thankfully recovered from his facial injury and Howe is not faced with any further injury problems or suspension worries following the Tykes clash. Danny Ings (torn cartilage), Martin Paterson (thigh) and Michael Duff (knee) are still on the path to recovery and sidelined for this game. Both Pato and Duff though have now returned to training.
Player to watch: Brian Easton
We badly need our left back to be on form after a very shaky performance against Barnsley and some recent indifferent matches. Our rivals are not daft. They have indentified left back as our potential area of weakness and the Tykes certainly pounded that flank on Tuesday night putting Easton under a lot of pressure. The problem for the gaffer since the departure of Fox is that he has no option other than to play Easton. We have no recognised left-back although Ben Mee could play in that position if required. Easton has to start answering his critics again with most suggesting recently he is simply not good enough at this level.
If that consensus proves to be correct, then we simply have to address the problem and bring in a new left back; preferably in my opinion on a permanent basis in the January window.
Team & Tactics:
Big decision time for Eddie Howe! With no news of any further injuries or suspensions following the Tykes game in midweek, Howe could play the same starting eleven and name the same sixteen for the fifth game in succession. The poor home defeat against Reading after three excellent performances before the International break was not enough for Howe to lose faith in his team and they were given a second chance on Tuesday night to redeem themselves at Oakwell! The trouble was they did not redeem themselves and if anything were worse so Howe surely now has to consider wringing the changes?
I would make three changes to be honest. Stanislas was under par against Barnsley and although Treacy was not much better, I would start him and see how things pan out.
Charlie Austin too was in no man`s land for most the game and struggled to make an impression in attack on Tuesday night. Zavon Hines surely has to be given a start but if he remains on the bench we should not leave it too late to bring him on. Most Clarets fans were perplexed by Howe`s decision to give Hines only a three minute run out on Tuesday night when clearly our strike force had been ineffective for most of the game.
The final change I would make would be in the back four. David Edgar I am afraid continues to be the weak link in the centre of defence and I think it is time to bring Mee back and see what sort of partnership he can develop with the resurgent Andre Amougou.
This would be my line-up then:
Grant, Trippier, Mee, Amougou, Easton, Treacy, McCann, Bartley, Wallace, Hines, Rodriguez
Subs: Stewart, Edgar, Marney, Austin, Stanislas
Howe tried a strange experiment to begin with on Tuesday night electing to play Rodriguez out in a wider role and playing Wallace in the hole in the centre of midfield! It failed to inspire and was dropped for the second half after reverting back to the more familiar 4-4-2. Let`s hope this time we don`t experiment and go for three points with what we know best. That being that Jay Rod is a striker not a winger and Wallace is a winger not a central midfielder!!
Graham Scott (Oxfordshire) is in charge of this one. This is only his second game involving the Clarets and his first one was back in January this year when we lost 2-1 away to Reading. That day he did seem to be somewhat of a ‘homer` and we shall have to hope for better things from him on Saturday. 4 yellow cards were handed out that day including one for Steven Thompson after just under four minutes into the game for an alleged elbow.
His card count this season so far reads an astonishing 6 reds from 14 games with the yellow card count at 58 (over 4/match). Amougou better watch out!!
The Ricoh Arena has been a pretty fruitful ground for the Clarets over the recent past and we have won three times out of the last four visits.
There is though nothing based on our current form which would give you the confidence to predict our third Championship away win of the season.
A third defeat on the bounce would be unthinkable and put a lot of pressure on both the manager and the team in the games ahead. Coventry are no great shakes though although they have only lost one game at home this season. This could be a pivotal game in terms of confidence for the Clarets. I hope our earlier form before the international break returns at the Ricoh. If it does, expect the Clarets to shade this one by the odd goal. I`ll go with 2-1 Clarets!
The last of our three-match consecutive away sequence continues on Tuesday 25th October with a trip to the Cardiff City Stadium to play the Bluebirds in a Carling Cup 4th Round clash (Kick-Off-7:45pm). We return to the Championship campaign the following Saturday (29th October) with a juicy home game against local rivals Blackpool in a live televised match which kicks-off late at 5:20pm