The Clarets still looking for that elusive first league win on the road this season now head off to Wales to face high-flying but off form Cardiff City this Saturday desperate to get back to winning ways after the disappointing home defeat to Leeds United. With the weather forecast predicting snow over the weekend there could be some doubt this game will go ahead although at the moment it looks like Wales might escape the worst of it.
Brian Laws has been under pressure this week with many fans calling for his head. His situation was certainly also not helped by reports in the local press that the Board were meeting this week to discuss the manager`s future. It would appear this meeting was postponed at the eleventh hour so it looks like Laws may have had a stay of execution at least for the moment.
Barry Kilby has made it plain this week that anything less than a play-offs spot this season would be seen as failure so with that in mind, it must be a worry that the Clarets currently in 9th position are now four points adrift of the 6th placed spot although they do have a game in hand over most of the clubs above them.
Now they face the Bluebirds for the first time in the Cardiff City Stadium hoping the taboo of Ninian Park doesn`t follow them into Cardiff`s new ground.
Cardiff manager, Dave Jones is also under some pressure. Despite Cardiff riding high in 2nd spot eight points clear of the Clarets they have now only won one of their last seven games and have seen their deadly Welsh rivals, Swansea creep up on them into third place on goal difference with both clubs now on 37 points. They will be desperate to get back to winning ways and we have to hope Burnley don`t get the brunt of it. This is yet another six-pointer for the Clarets, if we win this one we reduce the gap to just five points with a game in hand.
Cardiff City Team News:
Jones looks likely to start Chris Riggott in the centre of defence. The 30-year-old former Derby and Middlebrough defender has yet to make his debut after signing in September. It is clear the Cardiff manager has been concerned with the performance of his back four and looks keen to wring the changes in defence. Riggott has been injury prone in the past and has only just recovered fully from a series of muscle strains but does now appear to be in serious contention for Saturday`s game.
The bad news for the Clarets fans is that Cardiff striker, Jay Bothroyd looks set to return after being sidelined for one match with a hamstring injury. He had to be substituted after 8 minutes in the game at home to Preston recently and missed the following match away to Middlebrough
Player to watch: Jay Bothroyd
Bothroyd heads the Npower Championship Top Scorers table with 13 goals so far this season for the Bluebirds. He will need to be carefully watched on Saturday. The 28 year old England International signed from Wolves in Aug 2008 for £350,000 after penning a three-year deal.
Burnley Team News:
Danny Fox could be in line for a return. He is understood to be close to a full recovery from his ankle ligament injury.
Chris Eagles and Martin Paterson did not appear in the eighteen last week despite the club saying they were fit to play so they could be in contention for the Cardiff match.
Player to watch: Steven Thompson
It is unlikely Thompson will get a starting eleven place but hopefully he will get a chance to come on from the bench and play against his former club. He should be up for it if he does and it would be good to see him score on his first visit to their new stadium.
Team & Tactics
Brian Laws surprised a number of Clarets fans by starting 4-4-2 in our last game against Leeds United at Turf Moor last Saturday. It certainly seemed to be working as well with the Clarets going into the break two goals to the good. What happened next of course was a debacle allowing Leeds to come back and win 3-2 in the second-half but on the evidence of the first half at least we looked so much stronger with two strikers up front supported by the wide men.
Danny Fox may now be fit to play at left back but I don`t think he should be allowed to simply walk back into the team. Brian Easton has been playing very well and should be allowed to continue. He seems to be growing more confident with every game.
The big question is whether Laws will find room for Eagles and Paterson; both missed out last week despite both rumoured to be fit.
My selection continuing in the 4-4-2 formation assuming everybody is fit to play would be as follows:
Grant, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Easton, Elliott, Cork, Marney, Eagles (or Wallace), Iwelumo, Paterson
Subs: Jensen, Fox, Duff, Edgar (or Alexander), Wallace (or Eagles), Thompson, Guidetti
Bedfordshire referee Pat Miller is in charge of this one. He seems a bit handy with the cards this season so far showing 4 reds and 55 yellow cards in his 14 matches in charge at Championship and lower league level
It is backs to the wall time with Brian Laws under considerable pressure to get a result and clock up our first league away win of the season. It would certainly be a tonic to get three points from this clash after the terrible performance in our last game at home to Leeds United last Saturday. Cardiff have struggled recently too with only one win in seven games but is difficult to see the heart winning over the mind in this one and I can see nothing other than another defeat. This however is Burnley we are talking about and just when you think things are looking hopeless they have this knack of surprising you, so come on surprise us all and win 2-1!!
It is the dreaded festive season and we all know what that usually means for the Clarets. The grimmer news is that our next game is the Boxing Day clash away to Barnsley at Oakwell (Kick-Off 3pm), a ground where we have not won since the 1930s! Oh joy!