The Clarets take on their second ‘Battle of the Claret & Blue` this Saturday following their 1-1 draw against high-flying Aston Villa at Turf Moor a week ago. Burnley now face a battle against struggling West Ham at the Boleyn Ground and they will be eager to keep their League form going having now played three games without defeat. Owen Coyle and his men will be encouraged also by their recent away form having secured an amazing point in a 3-3 draw against moneybags Manchester City in their last match on the road at Eastlands; their first away point of the season.
No disrespect to West Ham, but this is probably the easiest game we have faced away from home all season but then there are no easy games in the Premier League so we shall have to avoid being over confident. West Ham have struggled this season and are currently in 16th spot on 11 points, six points behind the Clarets who are now in 11th place having dropped down one place thanks to Fulham beating Blackburn in midweek. The Hammers though will be desperate to win. Gianfranco Zola`s men, although they have lost only one of the last their last five games have drawn three of those games and tend to be quite leaky at the back. West Ham have conceded two or more goals in eight of their last nine league games They will however have been buoyed by their 3-3 draw away to Hull last Saturday but disappointed they threw away a 2-0 lead in a game that mirrored our own against Manchester City before the International break.
The Clarets are now entering a spell up to Christmas where most of the games are winnable and this period could be vital to ensuring our survival. Our first away win this Saturday would really set-us up nicely and with 20 points in the bank we could be well on the way to securing another season in the top flight. Come on you Clarets!
Predicted Team Sheet
Once again it looks like the Clarets have no additional injuries to worry about and with no suspensions, Owen Coyle looks almost certain to select the same eighteen for the fifth match running.
The line-up therefore will probably be as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, Bikey, Elliott, Blake, Fletcher
Subs: Penny, Duff, Guerrero, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Nugent, Thompson.
West Ham United Team News:
Dean Ashton (ankle) and Luis Boa Morte (cruciate) are both still sidelined with their long-term injuries. Ashton has a debilitating ankle injury which is so serious he may have to consider retiring from the game prematurely.
West Ham United midfielder Kieron Dyer is looking to return after being handicapped with a hamstring injury since the end of September. He says he feels strong enough to play but Zola may have other ideas although Dyer was in action for the reserves recently.
Late fitness tests for James Tomkins and Alessandro Da Costa will also be carried out before Zola selects his eighteen.
There is also news filtering through that Matthew Upson may have picked up a hamstring injury during training on Thursday so could be a doubt.
Player to watch: Carlton Cole
England international Carlton Cole is West Ham`s top scorer in the League this season with six goals.
Cole has only just returned from a hamstring injury but apart from an own goal last week against Hull City he has not been on the score sheet recently. We need to ensure we keep it that way.
Burnley Team News:
We can expect the same again for the fifth match running with no suspension and no news of any further injuries.
Jay Rodriguez, Martin Paterson and Chris McCann are all still recovering from their long-term injuries with Christmas looking like a possible return to aim for.
Player to watch: Steven Fletcher
Fletcher was very impressive in the last game against Villa without getting on the score sheet. He could have an easier time at Upton Park up against a defence known for its leakiness.
Back to the Future
Burnley last won at Upton Park in the League in October 1973. It was a match we won 1-0 thanks to a Colin Waldron goal after 65 minutes. Since that time we have lost five and only drawn once. In the 1975-76 season, the last time we were in the top flight, we unluckily went down 3-2 at Upton Park in August 1975 but got revenge by beating them 2-0 in the return match at Turf Moor just before Christmas 1975. You can read more about these battles in our ‘Back to the Future` series on Vital Burnley. The games against the Hammers were covered in the article Back to the Future 3 (If We Had the Hammers) which you can find by clicking this link:
Back to the Future 3 (If We Had the Hammers)LINK
The last time we played West Ham in the East End of London was August 2004 in their promotion season from the Championship, a game the Hammers won 1-0. They also got the same score at Turf Moor in April 2005 thus completing the double over us that season.
Chris Foy (St Helens) who was recently in charge of our Derby game against Rovers
Games against West Ham over the years have always tended to be high scoring. Although this could be a great chance to get our first away win in the bag, my gut feeling is we will get another point and I will plump for a 2-2 draw.
Well it`s another little jolly on the road, this time in Hampshire to face Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Saturday 5th December. Note this match has an early kick-off of 12; 45 pm. An interesting test against the bottom club now under new management with Avram Grant having this week replaced the sacked Paul Hart.