Burnley face a long trek to play Norwich City at Carrow Road this Saturday hoping to get back to winning ways after a disappointing draw in midweek against Coventry at Turf Moor.
Setting the Scene
The Clarets are currently in 7th place on 51 points, just two points behind Preston in 4th. It is so tight at the top with 11 clubs fighting over the two automatic promotion places and four play offs-spots.
It looks like the automatic promotion places will be between Wolves, Birmingham and Reading with Burnley along with Preston, Cardiff, Sheffield United, Bristol City, Swansea, Ipswich and QPR fighting over the three remaining play-offs places.
Just six points separate 4th place Preston and QPR currently in 11th position which emphasises how important it is for the Clarets to pick up points in their remaining games with just thirteen matches to play.
Burnley have now gone five games without defeat and will be hoping to make that six against a side suffering poor form.
The Canaries in a stop and start season, have not won now since January 17th this year and have lost their last two games. They are now in the danger zone and in the bottom three in 22nd position on just 32 points.
Bryan Gunn is the present incumbent at the helm and is the latest in a long line of managers that have graced Carrow Road since the demise of long-serving Nigel Worthington in October 2006. It was the Clarets that famously ensured that Nigel Worthington got the boot following a 4-1 thumping of the Canaries a couple of seasons ago. By then the Norwich fans had decided Worthy had to go and after that thumping in front of the cameras Delia Smith and the board agreed and decided enough was enough and sacked their manager of six years standing. Since that time, Martin Hunter, Peter Grant, Jim Duffy and Glenn Roeder have all attempted and failed to make Norwich a threat in the Championship again. So one manager of six years standing, and a generally successful one replaced by five managers over less than three years and Norwich still struggling! Says it all!
Anyway enough of them back to Burnley!
The Clarets can be a frustrating side to watch sometimes with their consistency sometimes questionable.
We have risen to the occasion against the Premier League sides in the cup competitions this season and have generally performed well against the top Championship sides.
The disappointing fact remains though that we have dropped far too many points against average and poor teams, especially against those sides occupying the bottom three places at the time they have played us. We will once more therefore need to be on our guard and we have to hope that the team that turns up at Carrow Road plays more like the one that performed well against West Brom, Birmingham and Wolves recently.
Three points really should be possible against Norwich and although a point would be just about acceptable, a defeat would be unthinkable and could seriously damage our hopes of a play-offs spot at the end of the season.
It was confirmed this week that Chris Eagles has still not fully recovered from his chest infection. Eagles has not started a game now for almost three weeks due to persistent chest pain and coughing. It was also revealed this week that he suffered from bad asthma as a child and often still has to use an inhaler depending on the weather conditions.
This week he was due to have further tests in Manchester to determine the cause of the chest pain.
Although the condition needs to be resolved and quickly Eagles himself sounds confident and let`s not forget he came off the bench in our last game against Coventry in midweek at Turf Moor, played the last 20 minutes or so and scored in the final minute to rescue a valuable point in the 1-1 draw. I suspect however, Eagles will be once more on the bench against Norwich.
Stephen Jordan returned for the Coventry game at left back replacing Christian Kalvenes who had picked up a thigh strain in the previous game against Wolves. Although Jordan was arguably at fault for the Sky Blues goal in midweek, misjudging a cross ball that allowed Jordan Henderson to get in behind him and chip a cross into the box for Leon Best to score, he generally put in a solid performance and I expect he will retain his place against the Canaries.
With no suspensions and no further news of any injuries, it looks like Coyle will be able to name the same sixteen again, and I will therefore predict we will line-up as follows:
Jensen, Williams, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Paterson, Thompson, Blake
Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Eagles, Rodriguez
Norwich City Team News:
Veteran striker, Jamie Cureton will be keen for a recall to the Norwich starting line-up. The 33 year old was sidelined under Glenn Roeder and was then hived out on loan to Barnsley for three months in November last year before being recalled by Norwich City in January after Glenn Roeder’s termination as manager.
On-loan defender Ryan Bertrand is not expected to feature in this game although is understood to be close to a return after an ankle injury.
Player to watch: Alan Gow
Clarets fans will remember how the Rangers player spurned the Clarets as part of the Lafferty deal, stating he preferred to take his chances at Ibrox Park (or Stadium as they call it now!) rather than come to Turf Moor.
Since that day of course, he has been out of the Rangers team and out on loan, twice. Blackpool was his first choice and at the start of September 2008 he signed for the Seasiders on loan until 1 January 2009. It was also thought he would join the club permanently after that time should he impress at the club. Gow said of the move at the time, ‘Obviously it hasn’t worked out the way I thought it should have at Rangers but I need to go out, play some games and get my fitness back.’ In the end he scored 5 goals for Blackpool in 17 games and Simon Grayson did indeed try to sign the player but failed.
In January 2009 Rangers confirmed that they were in negotiations with Wolves over a proposed move for the player. Gow finally agreed to join the club in a two-and-a-half year deal in early January this year for an undisclosed fee believed to be about £250,000. However he failed a medical at Molinuex and Wolves withdrew their interest.
Norwich City previously interested in the player at the time of the Lafferty saga then signed the striker on a season-long long at the start of this month and in a bizarre co-incidence played against Wolves in his debut at Molineux, a game that finished 3-3.
He certainly did not endear himself to Clarets fans and maybe the saga since has been justice for messing us all about.
Burnley Team News:
Chris Eagles appears to be struggling still with a persistent chest infection.He could find himself on the bench again despite getting a late equaliser against Coventry on Tuesday night after coming on from the bench in the second half. Coyle will carry out a late fitness test on the winger but there is still a chance he could be fit enough to start.
Jordan will probably retain his place at left back on merit although Kalvenes still appears to be suffering from the thigh strain that kept him sidelined in the last match.
Player to watch: Wade Elliott
Wado was one of our better performers against Coventry and looks to be returning to full form again. Let`s hope he can dazzle the Canaries defence with his mazy runs and maybe score one of his specials from distance again.
Last Time We Met
Norwich as previously mentioned have seen a number of managerial changes since the departure of Nigel Worthington and Clarets fans will remember the part they played in Worthy`s downfall a couple of seasons ago at Carrow Road. In front of the cameras, the Clarets thumped the Canaries 4-1 and Burnley fans witnessed the bizarre spectacle of home fans cheering on the away side in an effort to get rid of their manager and show their contempt. It worked, Delia dismissed Worthington soon after that game but it has to be said that Norwich have not really improved much since and one wonders now if Norwich fans might regret seeing the back of a manager that had previously served them pretty well.
However they did manage to beat the Clarets 2-0 on home soil towards the end of last season but we reversed that score at Turf Moor this season in November last year with Chris Eagles getting a brace. The Clarets will be keen to get the double over them on Saturday.
We should be strong enough to secure all three points and I will go for a 2-0 away win
Sheffield Wednesday, currently mid-table in 13th position are the visitors to Turf Moor on Saturday 28th February (3pm KO)