The Clarets badly need a convincing win at home to restore confidence and keep some of the pressure off Brian Laws. They face high-flying Derby County at Turf Moor this Saturday in the live Sky Sports televised game so those going to the match should remember the late kick-off time of 5:20 pm
Burnley are playing with remarkable inconsistency at the moment and we just can`t seem to string a few wins together and go on a convincing run. Consequently then the Clarets continue to hover just in or just below the play-offs spots being currently in tenth spot just one point behind sixth-placed Nottingham Forest. The top two clubs though keep picking up points at our expense and although Cardiff City lost at home to Forest last weekend, they remain ten points clear of the Clarets in second place. QPR though beat Preston at Loftus Road 3-1 last Saturday taking back the top spot and in so doing opening up a twelve point gap over the Clarets. The automatic promotion places are therefore continuing to look a distant dream at the moment although all is not lost just yet. We just need to go on that elusive run, maintain our home form and start picking up victories on the road! Simples!!
Our match last Saturday away to Coventry was such a disappointment. Against a very poor but battling, physical tall Sky Blues side we went down 1-0 to a single goal against the run of play but the biggest criticism seems to have been aimed at Brian Laws for his team selection and tactics during the game. It is therefore vital we get something from the match against the Rams and nothing less than a victory in convincing style will keep the ‘Laws Out` brigade at bay at least for the time being.
Derby County struggled against relegation last season and had a poor start to this season but are now currently enjoying a lofty 4th position in the League after going on a run that has seen them win four of their last five games. They currently have 30 points from 18 games four more than the Clarets.
The Rams away form is certainly better than ours too and in their 9 games on the road this season they have won four and drawn two. They did lose to Leicester City 2-0 though in their last outing and it is vital we halt the progress of Nigel Clough`s men in this six-pointer on Saturday.
Burnley Team News:
It has already been announced that left back, Danny Fox will be sidelined for some time with ankle ligament damage following the injury he picked up against Doncaster Rovers at Turf Moor. He could be out injured for 2-3 weeks at least.
Martin Paterson has been suffering from a thigh strain which he picked up towards the end of the first half against Doncaster Rovers. He has not played since and news of his fitness for Saturday is awaited.
Meanwhile there has been some good news regarding Chris McCann following knee surgery a few months back to correct his persistent cruciate ligament problem. McCann has been given the go-ahead to resume light training with a view to a comeback in the New Year.
Player to watch: Lee Grant
Grant looks set to play against his former club on Saturday. He played for the Rams between 2000-2007 and indeed also spent a spell on loan at Turf Moor during this period . Grant joined Burnley on a one-month loan in November 2005 as cover for the suspended Brian Jensen. He went straight in to the team and made his debut for Burnley against Leicester City on 19 November, but despite a one-month extension to the loan, Grant failed to force Jensen out as first choice ‘keeper and did not play again for the first team before returning to Derby.
The former Owls keeper has been generally impressive since taking over from Brian Jensen and he has made a number of excellent saves also showing on occasion better distribution than the Beast. We may need to call on him again against a rampant Derby attack.
Derby County Team News:
Left back Gareth Roberts picked up a red card for a second bookable offence in Derby`s 3-2 home victory against Scunthorpe last weekend. He picks up an automatic one-match suspension and will therefore miss the game at Turf Moor.
Keeper, Stephen Byewater has recently been sidelined with a wrist injury but played in a Reserves game last week and made a couple of appearances on the first-team bench against Leicester and Scunthorpe. It looks like he will lose out again to on-loan Blackburn keeper, Frank Fielding
Fielding has played the last eight matches but he was forced to pull out of the England Under-21 squad for the recent friendly against Germany because of an injury to his hip. He was however between the sticks for their game against Scunthorpe and looks to have fully recovered.
22 year old midfielder, James Bailey is also set to return. Bailey had been ever-present for the Rams this season before a sickness bug forced him to sit out the Scunthorpe game last weekend.
Defenders Shaun Barker and Dean Moxey also look likely to make a return.
Barker missed the Scunthorpe win due to a one-match ban for reaching five yellow cards and Moxey was laid low by the sickness bug that hit Bailey, although he was on the bench. Moxey looks set to replace the suspended Roberts.
Player to watch: Kris Commons
Kris Commons is currently second in the Npower Championship Top Scorers league with 10 goals, one goal more than Chris Iwelumo in third. The 27 year old winger and midfielder started his professional career with Stoke City before moving to Nottingham Forest in a £300k deal on 1 July 2004.
In June 2008 it was announced that Commons had signed for local rivals Derby County on a free transfer, penning a three-year contract with the club. He has since scored 18 goals in 72 appearances for the Rams scoring at a rate of 1-in-4 games. He will clearly be the danger man against the Clarets on Saturday.
Team & Tactics
The big debate concerning formation continues. More and more Clarets fans it seems are calling for a more attacking 4-4-2 formation with our leading goal-scorer Chris Iwelumo partnered up front by either Jay Rodriguez, Steve Thompson or Martin Paterson. JayRod and Pato have typically spent most of their time playing wider roles this season and yet both are natural strikers. Pato has played one game up front but in that match he was still the lone striker and of all our strikers, with his lack of height, he is the one that most needs a tall striker up front to play-off.
The question is though what does Brian laws intend to do? Ignore his critics and stick with 4-5-1 (4-3-3) or try something different? Moving from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 at 2-1 down against Watford in our last home match had the desired effect and we came out 3-2 winners but that tactic was not repeated with the substitutions against Coventry at the Ricoh Arena last Saturday when many were expecting a similar reshuffle at 1-0 down.
Laws seems pretty obstinate with his 4-5-1 starting eleven and I expect that once more we will have a similar team, tactics and formation selected for the Derby clash. Brian Easton looks set to deputise for Fox at left back and for the moment I will assume that Paterson is still sidelined.
I will predict therefore that we will have the same eighteen for the third game running with Iwelumo alone up front trying to add to his nine goal tally at home. Hopefully one day he will also score his first goal for the Clarets on the road but I remain convinced his goal count would be even higher home and away if he had a partner up front with him:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Easton, Alexander, Eagles, Cork, Elliott, Rodriguez, Iwelumo
Subs: Jensen, Cort, Edgar, Bikey, Marney, Wallace, Thompson
West Yorkshire referee Mark Haywood is in charge of this game. He commenced his refereeing career in West Yorkshire in 1993 progressing through the West Yorkshire and Northern Premier Leagues to reach the National List of assistant referees in 2002. After four more seasons he was again promoted in 2006, to the National List of referees. In his fifteen games this season in the Championship and lower leagues, he has only a modest number of bookings clocked up with on average less than 2 per game. He has shown a red card just the once also handing out 25 yellows.
This is a crucial match for the gaffer and anything less than a convincing win could begin to make life uncomfortable for Laws again if the home crowd begin to vent their anger and that won`t sound pretty in front of the live Sky cameras.
A 3-1 victory with a good display in both halves for a change could ensure some of the fans knives are put back in their sheaths at least for the moment.3-1 it is then!
The quest to win our first league away win of the season and only our fourth in 40 matches continues on Saturday 4th December with a visit to Fratton Park to play Steve Cotterill`s Portsmouth. (Kick-Off @3pm)