Burnley travel to the Cardiff City Stadium this Saturday to play the high-flying Bluebirds.
The Clarets are on a bit of a high at the moment following a remarkable turnaround of fortunes under caretaker manager, Terry Pashley. Pashley has engineered victories at home to Blackpool and away to Bristol City in his two games in charge so far and will be hoping Burnley`s new found confidence can give the Clarets another victory in the tricky game away to Cardiff this Saturday. If they do win if will be some achievement! Burnley last managed three consecutive wins at the end of 2011.
Six points maximum however from two games has given Burnley renewed vigour and they are now within just three points of a play-offs spot. They are in 14th place with seventeen points from 12 games just three points behind joint sixth placed Wolves (who we play next at home a week this Saturday) and Rovers. Another victory and the new manager, expected to be announced next week will be taking over a promotion chasing team and not one that looked set for a relegation battle following Eddie Howe`s last game in charge.
So can the Clarets win their second away win in succession following their 4-3 win over Bristol City in midweek? Well Malky Mackay`s men will be no pushovers and the Bluebirds will certainly be tougher birds to beat than the Robins! They are currently in second spot just behind league leaders, Leicester on goal difference. One problem too for the Clarets could be the Birdbirds impressive home form. You have to go back to March this year and the match against Hull for the last time they lost on home soil. They have not lost in 12 games on their own patch and are now going for a seven consecutive victory at home this Saturday. They last achieved that in November 2002 and will be hoping to beat their record of nine later this year. Let`s hope then we can stop their advance and cause another shock. Let`s also hope Charlie Austin can score in his ninth consecutive game and break all records for a Burnley player.
Cardiff City Team News:
Cardiff will be without injured strikers Craig Bellamy (ankle) and Tommy Smith (hamstring) for this clash. Bellamy came off in the midweek game at home to Watford on Tuesday night and will now miss the Burnley match after scans revealed the extent of his ankle injury. Tommy Smith also pulled up with a hamstring twinge in the second half of Tuesday`s game. The two strikers join fellow forward Nicky Maynard on the injured front. Maynard is unlikely to play again this season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The 25-year-old suffered the injury during the second half of Cardiff’s 2-0 win at Millwall last month
Midfielder, Jordan Mutch has been sidelined for a month with a foot injury and could be fit in time to feature against the Clarets. Fulham midfielder Kerim Frei also joined Cardiff on an emergency one-month loan basis on Friday and the 18 year old is expected to be in the Cardiff squad on Saturday.
Player to watch: Peter Whittingham
Whittingham is currently Cardiff`s leading goal scorer this season with seven goals in all competitions. The 28 year old, former England Under 21 international is predominantly an attacking midfielder but can also play on both flanks as a winger or indeed up front as a striker. He is no stranger of course to Burnley fans having spent some time on loan at Turf Moor back in 2005 whilst on Aston Villa`s books . In January 2007 Whittingham was transferred from Villa to Cardiff City for a reported fee of £350,000. He has since scored 62 goals from 236 appearances for the club which at a rate of about one goal every four matches is not bad for a player not recognised naturally as a striker.
Burnley Team News:
Left back, Ben Mee is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card in the midweek away win at Ashton Gate. Joseph Mills looks set to make a return to the starting eleven and fill the left back position. Ross Wallace, who pulled up with a hamstring strain in the warm up session against Bristol City on Tuesday night is rated 50-50 to play against the Bluebirds. One player definitely sidelined is Marvin Bartley . The midfielder is suffering from a groin injury.
Player to watch: Brian Stock
Stock has been the automatic choice in Pashley`s two games in charge so far and with Bartley sidelined with injury he now looks set to make the starting eleven for the third game running. He seems to be a solid, dependable sort of player so far without setting the world alight. Sometimes that`s all you need! If he plays against Cardiff he will have racked up 350 career league appearances.
Team & Tactics:
I suspect Pashley could be tempted to play with a lone striker up front. It is possible we could have a five man midfield with Marney perhaps playing in front of the back four as a defensive midfielder and Pato playing out wide. Assuming Wallace does not feature, it could be a similar starting eleven to the line-up against the Robins with Mills coming in to replace the suspended Ben Mee being the only change. The line-up could then look something like this :
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mills, Stanislas, McCann, Marney, Stock, Paterson, Austin
Subs: Jensen, Edgar, O’Neill, Long, Stewart, Ings, Vokes
County Durham referee, Nigel Miller is in charge of this clash. Miller last featured in a Clarets game back in April last season when we beat Doncaster Rovers 2-1 in the Keepmoat. Three red cards were shown that day, but generally this referee is fairly lenient with his card showing. In 42 games last season, he only gave a red card three times plus a modest 104 yellow cards. So far this season in 12 games, nobody has seen red and there have been 38 yellows.
Cardiff are undefeated in nine league and cup meetings with the Clarets having won 3 and drawn six of those last nine encounters.
I am still hoping Pash however can make it three wins in a row but it will be a tall order against the high flying Welsh club who have now gone 12 games without defeat on home soil. I think however the Clarets confidence has now returned and they might be able to sneak this one although a draw looks more realistic. So 1-1!! Remarkably six of the last seven clashes in the Championship between these two teams have been drawn so the prediction looks a little more obvious on that basis.
Wolves come to town on Saturday 3rd November (Kick-Off: 3pm)