The Clarets, now back in a play-offs spot following their stunning 4-2 victory against Palace at Turf Moor on Wednesday night will be hoping to continue their recent form in the league and make it three consecutive victories in a row. Nottingham Forest are the visitors to Turf Moor this Saturday in what will be an astonishing 50th game of the season for the Clarets and it`s still only March!
Setting the Scene
The victory against the Eagles in midweek saw the Clarets climb to sixth spot on 57 points, having played 37 League games. (Not to mention 12 in the Cup competitions).
We are now ideally placed to plough on and keep ourselves in contention with lowly Forest currently in 20th spot, the visitors to Turf Moor this Saturday. The Clarets are just 2 points behind 4th placed club, Sheffield United having played the same number of games and along with Bristol City one of two of the rival hopeful play-offs teams we still have to play at home. We now also have a game in hand over a number of the teams chasing for a play-offs spot, most notably Preston who have now dropped to 9th, one point behind the Clarets having played one game more along with the Swans and Robins. Only Cardiff in 5th and Reading in 3rd still have games in hand over Burnley out of the Top 10 clubs.
We should in theory easily beat Forest but this is the Championship and boy have we suffered this season against sides in the bottom half of the table and those hoping to avoid the drop. Forest in 20th spot currently have just 41 points and they are looking nervously at the bottom three being just 2 points clear of Norwich who are third from bottom and three points clear of Southampton who are second from bottom but also have a game in hand over Forest.
Forest are well and truly in a relegation scrap and will be fighting for their lives at Turf Moor this Saturday. They have also recently shown what they are capable of although they did go down 2-1 to fellow strugglers Watford at Vicarage Rd in their last match. Nevertheless, they have managed to beat Preston and get a point against high-flying Swansea at the City Ground in recent home games. Worryingly for the Clarets, they also recently came away from Reading with all three points after a 1-0 victory. It is crucial for the Clarets therefore that we take no prisoners in this game and go for the jugular with three away games to follow after the Forest clash.
It looks like Owen Coyle has again got options for his sixteen with virtually the whole squad available for selection (excluding the players loaned out and Russell Anderson of course).
Kevin McDonald though could be sidelined after picking up a back injury in the half-time warm up against Palace and faces a late fitness test
One thing though that is very noticeable with Coyle is that he remains loyal to a team if they play well. Bearing in mind therefore that we staged a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down on Wednesday night against Palace to come out eventual 4-2 winners, I suspect we will see the same sixteen and starting eleven selected for the Forest game.
This will probably mean that Martin Paterson is again named in the starting eleven, although he has looked under par in recent games and badly needs a goal to restore confidence. I still believe Jay Rodriguez should be given a full 90 minutes, partnering Thompson up front with Pato on the bench. He must be close after scoring a cool, wonder goal on Wednesday night but I suspect that once more Paterson will be given the nod by Coyle.
My predicted line-up would therefore be a repeat of the sixteen that faced Palace:
Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Paterson, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, McDonald (or Mahon), Eagles, Rodriguez
Burnley Team News:
Kevin McDonald suffered a back injury in the half-time warm-up during Wednesday’s home win over Crystal Palace. Owen Coyle will assess the fitness of the midfielder ahead of the Forest game but he could still feature.
There is no news of any further knocks or injuries following the Palace game so one can expect a similar (if not the same) sixteen named for the Forest clash
Player to watch: Steven Thompson
Thompson is looking strong again and is back to scoring ways following his superb goal against Palace last Wednesday night to put the Clarets 3-2 up.
The only question is likely to be who will partner him on Saturday with Rodriguez stomping at the bit for a starting eleven place following his equally stunning goal against Palace that sealed the 4-2 victory. Martin Paterson though will have other ideas and if Pato does start, he really does need to convince Clarets fans he his back to full form. A goal or two would help!
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Forest have a number of players on the injury list but Forest fans were bolstered this week by the news that the club have signed Tottenham Hotspur’s Wales`s international defender Chris Gunter on loan until the end of the season.
Forest are likely to hand a debut to their new signing against the Clarets.
Kelvin Wilson (ankle), Joel Lynch (ankle) and Ian Breckin (hip) could be sidelined though despite having played on Tuesday in the defeat at Watford.
Player to watch: Rob Earnshaw
Earnshaw joined Forest from local rivals, Derby County for £2.65 million in May 2008 signing a three-year deal. He has since bagged 9 goals in 25 appearances for Forest including a brace recently against Preston at home.
Last Time We Met
You have to go back to November 2004 for the last time we played Nottingham Forest at Turf Moor We defeated them 1-0 in a season that proved to be the downfall for Forest who were relegated to League 1 although before the drop that season they did reverse that score at the City Ground in April 2005.
Forest gained automatic promotion to the Championship last season after finishing in 2nd place in League 1 at the end of 2007/8 but they have struggled this season and the Clarets took all three points off them at the City Ground back in September 2008. The 2-1 away win was down to a brace from Graham Alexander. We got the lead on 25 minutes when Alexander curled in a superb shot from well outside the box but then Forest equalised when Steven Caldwell headed the ball onto his own crossbar and Robert Earnshaw was there to pounce and score.
Alexander though scored from the penalty spot to seal all three points after Wes Morgan was adjudged to have handled in the box.
Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)
Our confidence will be high after coming from two goals behind to beat Palace at home 4-2 in midweek. We should be too strong for Forest and there can be no slip-ups. 3-0 Clarets
We start a sequence now of three away games on the trot with visits to Plymouth and Derby County to follow after our next game at Ipswich in midweek on the Tuesday night of Wednesday 17th March.(7:45pm KO)
After Plymouth on Saturday 21st March there will at least be a break for International Duty at the end of March before we play Derby at Pride Park on Saturday 4th April.