Date: 23rd April 2012 at 12:08pm
Written by:

The long, hard and in the end fruitless season comes to an end on Saturday with our final game against Bristol City at Turf Moor. Let`s just finish on a high note with a comprehensive win!

The Pre-amble:

Burnley face Bristol City at Turf Moor this Saturday in our final game of the 2011-12 season and don`t forget it kicks-off early at 12;30pm. Bristol City have struggled for most of the season but are now safe with all three relegation places now decided.

The Clarets too have nothing much to play for other than pride. They are currently 12th with 61 points and if they win on Saturday the highest they could now finish is 10th but that would rely on both Derby and Leicester above us on 63 points dropping sufficient points in their remaining games. Leicester also have a game in hand and play that tonight (Monday) in a tough match at home to automatic promotion chasing West Ham. They finish the season off with a tricky away trip to Elland Road on Saturday. The Foxes have a significantly better goal difference compared to the Clarets (Plus 11 vs. Plus 3) so they would really need to lose both games for the Clarets to go above them. Derby have just one game left to play and that is against Peterborough at home. Realistically looking at the relative goal difference we could finish above Derby if they only manage a draw (Minus 8 Derby)

If Bristol City manage to beat the Clarets the lowest we could finish is 14th. Whichever way you look at it though a 10-14th place finish is not what Clarets fans would have been expecting two seasons following relegation from the top flight and it is disappointing we have not bettered the 8th place finish last season.

Bristol City`s form of late has been impressive and they have steadily climbed up the table. Threatened with relegation for most of the season, they are now in 19th spot and will finish at least eight points clear of the drop zone. Clarets fans will be wondering if Andre Amougou has contributed to their improvement in form. The defender formally known as Bikey has been enjoying a spell at Ashton Gate on loan and now looks set to leave Turf Moor in the summer. Clarets fans of course will not see him play against us this Saturday and indeed may never see him play again in a Claret & Blue shirt. The Robins under gaffer, Derek McInnes can now relax having confirmed their survival in the Championship following a 2-0 home win against Barnsley last Saturday.

The three relegation places have now been decided and the Championship is now saying goodbye to Portsmouth, Coventry and Doncaster Rovers.

In terms of form, the Robins have not lost in seven games and they will probably be hoping to keep that record going into the new season. Away from home, they have recently won one and drawn three of their last six games. They last lost away from home at the beginning of March when they went down 3-0 to Ipswich at Portman Road.

So a game on Saturday then that means nothing to either side but one in which Clarets fans will be hoping for a win to finish on a high note after a pretty miserable season particularly on home soil.

Burnley Team News:

There is a strong chance Clarets fans might see Jay Rodriguez in the final game of the season and if the rumours are true this could be the last time he plays for the Clarets with Premier League clubs expected to come in for him in the summer. He has been out injured with a ‘wear & tear` hip/groin problem since the Crystal Palace game at Turf Moor last month but his specialist has apparently told him he could be fit enough to play this Saturday.

Martin Paterson`s miserable last few years being out injured looks likely to continue though as he struggles to recover from a hamstring injury . Ben Mee too is still recovering from a small, non-serious fracture in his back and won`t be available to play until next season.

One player who won`t be able to feature is Josh McQuoid. His loan spell completed on Saturday following the Blackpool game and he has now returned to his parent club, Millwall. Clarets fans will be hoping that the club make a permanent offer for the impressive winger and striker in the summer.

Player to watch: Marvin Bartley

At times very impressive, at times not at the races, Bartley has been a bit of an enigma this season! He went through a period earlier in the season where he seemed to pick up a ‘Man of the Match` award every other game but now appears to have gone off the boil a little lately. He has not always been the automatic choice for a starting eleven slot despite at times being lively and influential. Howe in terms of central midfielders has tended to opt for Marney and McCann although with recent experimentation in a five man midfield, Bartley has found more opportunity. Let`s hope he finishes on a high note and finds his earlier impressive form.

Bristol City Team News:

Striker, Brett Pitman looks set to make a return to the starting eleven following a three-match suspension. He was sent off for a foul on Coventry`s Jordan Clarke earlier this month.

28 year old centre back and defensive midfielder, Kalifa Cisse missed the Robins last game at home to Barnsley on Saturday due to injury and news is awaited on the Mali international`s progress as he tries to recover from his ankle problem.

James Wilson is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury although the defender is now back in training. Welsh international defender, Lewis Nyatanga has also been out with a long-term injury to his ankle and looks unlikely to feature in the last game of the season despite also now being back in training. Midfielder, Marvin Elliott and striker, David Clarkson are also sidelined with long-term injuries. Elliott snapped his Achilles during a training session back in February ruling him out for the rest of the season. In January 2012, Clarkson was ruled out for the rest of the season with a fractured ankle injury picked up during training.

Player to watch: Brett Pitman

Pitman has been the scourge of Burnley over the years and always seems to score against us. He is of course also well known to Eddie Howe who was his manager at Bournemouth before he signed for Bristol City in August 2010 for an undisclosed fee thought to be about £1 million. The 24 year old striker though has only notched up a modest seven goals for the Robins in all competitions this season although is still currently their second highest goal scorer. He tends to score on average one goal in about three games. Pitman was Bristol City’s top scorer, with 13 goals, in his first season at the club, despite only starting 21 times. Sadly for the Clarets he looks set to play against us again after just completing a three-match ban for a red card.

Team & Tactics

All the Burnley players seemed to come through the Blackpool game without any further injuries so Eddie Howe could select the same starting eleven should he so wish and play with the same 4-2-3-1 formation. That would mean Austin alone up front and McCann playing a more forward midfield role. The captain McCann has looked more comfortable in that role in the last couple of games. On the other hand, Howe might be tempted to experiment more with nothing to play for but pride and give some of the young guns more of a chance. The gaffer might also be tempted to play the formation that we finished up playing against the Tangerines by starting 4-4-2 and playing with both Ings and Austin up front. Will Rodriguez feature? I think he might be named on the bench with a view to him coming on at some point in the game just so Clarets fans can have one last look of ‘one of our own` before he departs in the summer as widely expected.

Eddie Howe clearly has a number of options and it is difficult to know which way he will decide to go. The team selection and tactics against Blackpool clearly did not work but against lowly Bristol City they may prove more fruitful. I will stick with the same starting eleven fully expecting to see a change in tactics and formation at some point in the game if things are not quite working out.

Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Lafferty, Wallace, Marney, Bartley, Stanislas, McCann, Austin

Substitutes: Jensen, Rodriguez, Ings, Howieson, Jackson (or other young guns)

Ref Watch:

Yet to be confirmed! We will bring you news once the announcement has been made.

Match Prediction:

Let`s have a thumping win to round off a frustrating season! 4-0 Clarets

Next Match, Next Season!

That`s it folks, hope you have enjoyed the Match Preview service this season! We will be back in the summer for the pre-season games before the new season kicks-off good and proper in August.