The Clarets face the high-flying Canaries on Saturday with second-placed, Norwich City the visitors to Turf Moor.
Burnley will have a tough task against Norwich City at Turf Moor this Saturday. The Clarets have suffered from inconsistency all season and even under the new management regime, the loss at Doncaster in midweek still means we have yet to secure our first back-to-back league win of the season. It is a sad fact too but we seem to be struggling to get back on track for a plays offs place and continually seem to be off the pace unable to string a run of wins together. We are currently in 11th spot, one of a number of average teams still in with a chance of a top six finish but we are now already six points behind sixth placed club, Leeds United and have a lot of catching up to do with little room for any more defeats. We do though have a game in hand over the Yorkshire side and some of the other clubs in the chasing pack. Automatic promotion remains an ever dwindling hope and the team we play this Saturday, Norwich in second spot are already 11 points clear of the Clarets albeit having played a game more.
There could be a bit of friction between the two teams on Saturday as well with Canaries manager, Paul Lambert likely to come in for a bit of stick after snubbing the chance to move to Turf Moor as our new manager. The whole affair seemed to leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouth with Norwich accusing Burnley`s approach as unprofessional. All water under the bridge now with Burnley fans delighted to have Eddie Howe on board but it will be interesting to see what sort of reception Lambert gets from the home crowd.
Norwich have done amazingly well considering they were plying their trade in League 1 last season. They are currently sitting pretty for an automatic promotion place in second spot, five points behind League leaders, QPR. The Canaries also have a formidable away record this season and indeed have not tasted defeat now in seven league games on the road. Their record away so far this season in the Championship reads, Won 6, Drawn 6, and Lost 2 so boy do we need to be on our guard. Come on you Clarets, knock ’em off their perch and stop ’em singing!
Burnley Team News:
We await news on the fitness of Martin Paterson. There were fears this week that he has had a recurrence of the thigh strain that had kept him sidelined since November. Pato has only just recently returned after making two appearances from the bench. He came on and scored in the FA Cup home clash against Burton and then made an appearance in the game at the Keepmoat against Doncaster Rovers in midweek. Sadly though he pulled up with ten minutes of the game remaining and was said to be ‘gutted` in the dressing room after the match. The club face an anxious wait for news of the extent of the injury following an assessment by a specialist.
New striker, Charlie Austin looks likely to make his home debut and there could also be a debut for our new midfielder, Marvin Bartley who joined from Eddie Howe`s former club, Bournemouth on the last day of the January transfer window.
Player to watch: Marvin Bartley
All Clarets fans will be eager to get a glimpse of our new midfielder. He was unable to make his debut against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat on Tuesday night being ineligible to play after only signing late on Monday night on the final day of the January transfer window. The 24 year old comes highly recommended and sounds a hot prospect. He played for a number of non-league clubs before signing for Bournemouth in the summer of 2007 including Burnham, Hayes, Didcot Town and Hampton & Richmond Borough.
Norwich City Team News:
Andrew Surman is a long-term absentee with a knee injury. Lambert`s only other injury concern could be left back, Adam Drury who has been sidelined recently with a thigh strain.
Player to watch: Grant Holt
Holt is currently 10th in the Npower Championship Top Scorers Table and is the Canaries leading goal scorer with 10 goals to his credit this season in the Championship.
The 29 year old striker scores about one goal in every two matches so we will need to snuff out that threat on Saturday. Holt signed for Norwich City from Shrewsbury Town in July 2009 for an undisclosed fee (thought to be £400,000). He signed a three-year contract.
Team & Tactics
Making the assumption that Pato will sadly not be in contention, I do hope that Howe plays 4-4-2 in this one and puts Iwelumo up front with Austin. My preferred combination would be Pato and Austin.
Howe must surely also be tempted to start new midfielder, Marvin Bartley but the question is would have to make way? The obvious one to replace could be Dean Marney but he was arguably man of the match at the Keepmoat and has been scoring of late.
The gaffer does not appear to have any further injury worries and has virtually the whole squad to choose from except of course for Chris McCann and the players out on loan. One player joining the loan ranks is David Edgar who will now play for Swansea again until the end of the season.
How does this sound for a team selection?
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Eagles, Cork, Bartley, Elliott, Iwelumo, Austin.
Subs: Jensen, Bikey, Alexander, Marney, Wallace, Rodriguez, Thompson
West Midlands referee, Phil Gibbs gets this one. He has been a qualified referee since 1993 joining the National List of Referees in 2008. He has been in charge of 21 games so far this season at Championship level or lower league handing out two reds and 60 yellow cards.
This will be tough one against a side in awesome form on the road. But records are meant to be broken so I am going for a 2-1 victory.
We play Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday 12th February (Kick-Off 3pm)