The Clarets return to their Championship campaign tomorrow, hoping to put three straight league defeats behind them and get some badly needed points on the table (and in the table!) to kick-start their promotion ambitions again after a torrid Christmas and New Year.
At least in midweek they got their first win in six games and their first of 2009 by beating QPR at Turf Moor in the FA Cup third round replay on Tuesday night and so they will hopefully be buoyed up for the match tomorrow against local rivals, Preston at Deepdale.
The grim news last week that Preston went above the Clarets after they defeated league leaders, Wolves 3-1 at Molineux sent shivers through Clarets fans as they faced Swansea at home in front of the cameras in a late match that kicked off at 5:20pm.
In typical Burnley style we then proceeded to lose the initiative by playing one of our worst games of the season, losing 2-0 having spent most of the match down to ten men after Michael Duff was sent off following a controversial red-card. That result ensured Preston in 6th place stayed ahead of the Clarets, now in 7th just one point behind them, the first time since October we had dropped out of the Top 6 play-offs spots.
So the scene is set for an awesome derby, in yet another Sky Sports televised match, this time with the earlier kick off time of 12:45pm.
Can we return the favour of last season and get the double over Preston this time after comprehensively beating them 3-1 at Turf Moor back in September?
2007/8 was not a season to remember against the Lilywhites losing 3-2 at home and then going down 2-1 at Deepdale. Revenge will be sweet but it won`t be easy. Preston are on the crest of a wave whereas the Clarets form has plummeted in recent League games. Preston`s home record is also pretty impressive having won 10 of their last 13 games at Deepdale, winning their last five on the trot.
The more I quote these stats, the more I think there might be a mini-shock and the Clarets will get something from this game. Let`s hope so! Come on you Clarets
Predicted Team Sheet
Thankfully, the red card sending off for Michael Duff against Swansea resulted in only a one match automatic ban (duly taken against QPR in midweek) and not the two that some had feared (including Yours Truly).
However winger Wade Elliott will miss the match through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card against Swansea last Saturday.
Chris McCann and top scorer Martin Paterson are carrying knocks and both are doubtful.
I hope also we will revert to 4-1-4-1 which gives us more options so I expect and hope we will line up something like this:
Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Mahon, Gudjonsson, Blake, Eagles, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, MacDonald or McDonald (if fit), Rodriguez, Akinbiyi
Preston North End Team News:
Defender Callum Davidson will get a late fitness test after being forced to come off during their FA Cup defeat to Liverpool recently. He also missed the win at Molineux last weekend and still appears to be having back problems.
Eddie Nolan could be ready to come in and deputise again if he doesn`t make it.
Keeper Wayne Henderson plus defenders Liam Chilvers, Michael Hart and former Claret, Neal Trotman though are still sidelined.
Player to watch: Richard Chaplow (Again!)
I suppose it will have to be Chaplow again but let`s be honest he is a shadow of his former self!
Burnley Team News:
Duff returns after a one-match automatic suspension and we wait to hear about Martin Paterson who pulled up in the warm-up against QPR and Chris McCann who came off after 19 minutes.
We assume Van der Schaaf is still having kidney problems and I hope that the lack of an announcement on his scan is not ominous.
Wade Elliott sits this one out after a fifth yellow against Swansea last Saturday.
Player to watch: Steve Thompson
Picking up a few more goals now and a chance to shine and cement his place whether Paterson is fit enough to play or not.
Last Time We Met
It was a comfortable 3-1 victory this season at Turf Moor back in September after going behind. Goals by Gudjonsson, Caldwell and Eagles did the trick!
Not a good day last season at Deepdale though, we went down 2-1 in March last year despite a goal by Carlisle and gave the double and bragging rights to Preston after an earlier 3-2 loss at Turf Moor.
Hertfordshire referee Paul Taylor gets the job for the first time this season in a match involving the Clarets.
Hoping to sneak it, but 1-1 or some other draw, I suspect which I would be happy with
Get the crampons on, its Spurs at Turf Moor for the Carling Cup Semi-Final Second Leg on Wednesday night (21st Jan 7:45pm KO) and we only have to beat them 3-0 to get to Wembley! Easy Peasy! Come on You Clarets