It’s Boxing Day and we face Wednesday on Wednesday as the Owls visit Turf Moor with the Clarets hoping to stuff a different bird to Turkey over the festive season.
You can almost hear the Clarets fans groaning ‘Oh no, we are playing at home’ after a bizarre season which sees us still nicely placed in 9th place only 3 points off the play-offs spot but only because we have had an astounding record away from home. We have not lost away now since yet another species of bird, the Bluebirds beat us as Ninian Park way back in October.
God only knows where we would be in the League had we performed at home this season, but the sad fact remains we have only won two matches all season at Turf Moor and havent won at home since October when we defeated the Canaries. They are birds too!!
Sheffield Wednesday had a terrible start to the season and we were instrumental in helping that statistic by beating them 2-0 away back in September. They have recovered slightly since that disastrous start and now find themselves in 19th place on 24 points, nine behind the Clarets and curiously also with a better away record than at home, having won three and drawn three in their last nine matches on the road.
So our home form has been woeful and we face a team with a pretty good record away from home! Oh great! We also face them with a long list of suspensions and injuries, especially in midfield giving Owen Coyle a selection nightmare.
Midfielders, Gudjonsson, McCann and Spicer have all been recently red-carded and wont be available for selection. Alan Mahon has also been out injured recently although there could be a chance he makes it for the match. We can expect therefore to at least see James O’Connor make his second start of the season, and maybe Garreth O’Connor could feature at some point having been named on the bench for the first time this season in our last match away to Ipswich. Harley has also been tried in midfield under Cotterill at the start of the season with mixed success, and if we can find anyone to fill in at right back, Alexander can also play in midfield .He then though faces a one match ban in our next match against Bristol City having picked up a fifth yellow against Ipswich. Robbie Blake could also play deeper with maybe Gray partnering Lafferty up front.
In defence, Steven Caldwell played his first game in ten matches last Saturday and put in an awesome display with Jordan also having recently returned from injury relegated to the bench. Clarke Carlisle has also been sidelined although Coyle does not appear to have ruled out the possibility that he might be fit to play today.
It is difficult to predict the team selection therefore, but I expect something like this:
Kiraly, Alexander, Unsworth, Caldwell, Harley, James O’Connor, Elliott, Jones,Blake,Lafferty,Gray
Subs: Jensen, Jordan, Garreth O’ Connor, Akinbiyi and the fifth sub could be anybody from the following depending who is fit..Mahon, Carlisle, Rodriguez
‘It’s nice to be at home on Boxing Day.Regardless of what people might say about the home form, we want to be at home all the time because sooner or later we are going to start churning out home wins.
‘I have absolutely no doubt about that and Boxing Day would be an ideal time for that to start.
Regardless of personnel and the opposition, the atmosphere will be great and I expect us to go out and perform.’
‘Whoever comes in has got to show that they want to stay in the team.
‘It was a wonderful result at Ipswich and it sets us up for these two important home games, which we look forward to.
‘We will have to have a look and see whether we change the system through the personnel.
‘Alan (Mahon) was probably closer than Clarke (Carlisle) to playing at Ipswich and I would be delighted to have those two back for the visit of Wednesday, but we’ll have to leave that one until the last minute and see what the next day or so brings.
‘The backroom team are working around the clock and we are desperate to have them back in, but we can’t take the chance of pushing someone to play and risking them being out for three to four weeks.
‘That would be detrimental to what we are trying to do at this club and I won’t do that
Burnley Team News:
Gudjonsson, McCann and Spicer all suspended thanks to recent straight reads. Clarke Carlisle and Alan Mahon doubtful but not ruled out.
Player to watch: Andy Gray
Gray has not been able to score now in five matches.If he starts to find the back of the net today, then we could see more than one goal from the striker currently with 13 goals for the season. We badly need his form and confidence to return, especially at home
Sheffield Wednesday Team News:
Owls striker Akpo Sodje could be in contention after recovering from an ankle injury. Jermaine Johnson is doubtful for the match (ankle)
Frank Simek, Francis Jeffers, and Richard Wood have long-term injuries.
Player to watch: Marcus Tudgay
Nobody has been that convincing this season up front for the Owls and they dont have a top scorer in the Top 15 Marcus Tudgay is possibly the best of the bunch.
Last Time We Met
A convincing 2-0 away win back in September with goals from Blake and McCann but in our last home encounter we played out a dull 1-1 draw at Turf Moor last February with Elliott getting our goal.
We have to win at home its the Brian Laws of averages! 2-0 Clarets
Bristol City at Turf Moor, Saturday 29th December @ 3pm