Burnley play Scunthorpe United at Turf Moor on Christmas Bank Holiday Tuesday 28th December (Kick-Off 3pm) just two days after getting their first league away win of the season against Barnsley at Oakwell on Boxing Day Sunday. It goes without saying, our first back-to-back win under Brian Laws in the league, is now the next target.
The Clarets should be on a high after the tonic of picking up their first three points on the road this season on Boxing Day not to mention the fact this was the first time they had beaten Barnsley at Oakwell since April 1932. With hoodoos and taboos tumbling, we now need to continue our form over the festive period and with two home games up next we have the ideal opportunity.
Brian Laws now faces his former club, Scunthorpe United. Laws spent nearly ten years at Glanford Park before going on to manage Sheffield Wednesday in November 2006. Graham Alexander and Martin Paterson too also have connections with the club having both played for the Iron earlier in their career.
It is vital for Laws that we win and win convincingly or all the ‘Laws Out` chants and banners will resurface. Anything other than three points would be seen as failure and could severely dent our promotion hopes and confidence.
Burnley are currently in eighth spot and a win against Scunthorpe could propel the Clarets into one of the play-offs spots with an ideal opportunity to then consolidate their position on News Years Day when they play Sheffield United at home. We are just two points off sixth placed, Coventry and now have a two game advantage over the Sky Blues. All the clubs above the Clarets have in fact played at least one game more.
Scunthorpe on the other hand have struggled this season although they have suffered the most recently in terms of losing momentum from postponed games. They are currently second from bottom on 20 points from 20 games. Scunthorpe manager, Ian Baraclough though will be desperate to get them out of the relegation zone. Scunthorpe`s away performance has been pretty good however this season. They have picked up five wins and lost five on the road in their ten games so far with no draws at all. They are however on a terrible run of form at the moment having lost their last five matches whilst conceding at least two goals in each of those games including their last two away !
The club announced today they were trying everything they could to try and ensure this game went ahead safely. Groundstaff at Burnley Football Club are battling against the snow and ice to ensure tomorrow’s match against Scunthorpe United is not postponed.
Snow ploughs were drafted in by Clarets this morning, with more wintry showers predicted tonight.
They also have issues related to burst pipes in the toilets and on the concourses but are hoping to resolve these problems ahead of the game. Facilities manager Doug Metcalfe said:
“Like every ground, we are experiencing problems with burst pipes and flooding.
“But we are working all hours to ensure the game goes ahead with as little inconvenience as possible to supporters.
“We anticipated these problems, but the major problem is these leaks.
“This may mean we have reduced capacity for toilets, but every effort is being made to make things as safe and supporter-friendly as possible.”
Burnley Team News:
Danny Fox is understood to be fully fit after recovering from his ankle injury but he is unlikely to regain the left back spot with Brian Easton in such good form.
Martin Paterson too was understood to be close to a return after missing the last five games following an injury picked up in the home game against Doncaster Rovers back in November. Paterson has been suffering from a troublesome thigh problem but it remains to be seen if he will be in contention to play against his former club.
There have been no further announcements of any further injuries following the Barnsley game so it looks like Laws has virtually the complete squad to choose from except for Chris McCann and the players out on loan.
Kevin McDonald is now also back at the club after a loan spell at Scunthorpe but he is unlikely to feature .However he could be useful to tap for knowledge concerning Scunthorpe`s weaknesses and likely tactics.
Player to watch: John Guidetti
Guidetti scored on his full debut against Barnsley on Boxing Day. He seemed to struggle initially and it was clear he needed more competitive games to return to full match fitness. Nevertheless he contributed well in the end so hopefully Laws will reward him with yet another starting eleven spot to improve his level of fitness and confidence.
Scunthorpe United Team News:
Scunthorpe defender David Mirfin looks set to return following a foot injury
Josh Wright, Michael O’Connor and Chris Dagnall have also all recovered from a bug doing the rounds
Defenders Michael Raynes (thigh), Jim McNulty (ankle) and Niall Canavan (knee) though are set to remain sidelined.
Player to watch: Michael O’Connor
Scunthorpe`s leading goal scorer in the Championship is 23 year old Northern Ireland international midfielder, Michael O`Connor with five goals in the League to date. Scunthorpe signed him from Crewe Alexandra in July 2009 for an undisclosed fee.
Team & Tactics
On the premise you don`t change a winning side, Brian Laws could be tempted to select the same eighteen he put out against Barnsley on Boxing Day. Everybody seems to have come through that game uninjured and their confidence levels could be high as we seek our first back-to-back win of the season.
It could be bad news then for leading goal scorer, Chris Iwelumo. John Guidetti was given his chance at Oakwell partnering Jay Rodriguez up front with the out-of-form Iwelumo relegated to the bench. The pairing worked well together and they could be given their chance to shine again.
I have to say if Laws is considering making changes then perhaps he should considering dropping Graham Alexander and Clarke Carlisle who both had pretty poor games on Boxing Day Sunday.
Michael Duff must be wondering what he has to do to get into the starting eleven and maybe it is now time to give him a run out in partnership with Bikey in the centre of defence. Dean Marney too could provide the necessary pace we need from midfield, something which Grezza seems to be sadly lacking these days. That said it was his passing game that also deserted the captain against the Tykes.
The problem with dropping both Grezza and Carlisle though is that we lose both captain and vice-captain which could mean Elliott taking over the armband again.
I would put out the following in 4-4-2 formation:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Easton, Elliott, Cork, Marney, Eagles, Rodriguez, Guidetti
Subs: Jensen, Carlisle, Edgar, Alexander, Wallace, Iwelumo, Thompson (or Paterson if fit)
Northamptonshire referee, Andy Woolmer is in charge of this one. He has been a National List referee since 2004 which was some twenty years after he first started refereeing at age sixteen. Woolmer has been in charge of 16 games at Championship level or below this season, handing out 3 reds and 39 yellow cards.
Well, come on Brian, let`s get our first back-to-back win this season and beat Scunthorpe convincingly. 4-0 Clarets! If we do win another unwanted record will tumble. We have lost our last five end-of-season games but after winning on Boxing Day at Oakwell anything can now happen!
Games are coming thick and fast now with Sheffield United the visitors to Turf Moor next up on New Year`s Day, Saturday 1st January 2011 (Kick-Off 3pm)