Date: 30th September 2011 at 6:29pm
Written by:

Burnley travel to South Bermondsey this Saturday to play Millwall at the Den Stadium. They will be in buoyant mood after their thumping 5-1 home victory against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.

The Pre-amble:

The Clarets will be looking to build on their last two games this Saturday when they face Millwall at the Den Stadium. They earned a creditable point against league leaders, Southampton at home last Saturday before thumping Nottingham Forest side 5-1 in midweek to get their first home league win of the season on the board The victory against a woeful Forest propelled Burnley five places up the league table to 16th and they now have 9 points from 8 matches with a game in hand over most clubs around them. We need to keep things in perspective though and not get too blasé considering we are still only two points off the drop zone with only four more points than bottom club, Doncaster Rovers. Nevertheless the last two performances have given everybody hope and it would be great if we could now consolidate and continue to move up the table and start to press for a play-offs spot. 3 more points against Millwall would do very nicely thank you so let`s go for it!

Millwall have hit rock-bottom confidence-wise at the moment and seem to be struggling. They lost 2-1 to Watford on Tuesday night at Vicarage Road to drop into the relegation zone third from bottom. Kenny Jackett’s men now have just 7 points from 9 games, two less than the Clarets having played a game more. They at least managed to score in midweek for the first time in six games! The Lions will be striving for their first win in eight league games, and only their second of the season against the Clarets. The Clarets will also need to be on their guard since Millwall are actually unbeaten this season on home soil. They managed a creditable 0-0 draw in their last home game against fierce local rivals West Ham. The Hammers, currently 4th, are expected to be promoted this season after being relegated from the top flight last season so the result was pretty good for the Lions.

Bring it on!!

Millwall Team News:

27 year old midfielder, Therry Racon (ankle) and 29 year old centre back/defensive midfielder, Tamika Mkandawire (knee) could return to the Millwall squad to face the Clarets on Saturday

Former Bournemouth striker, Josh McQuoid is also training again after an illness but will not be ready in time to play this Saturday.

Striker, Darius Henderson is also doubtful with a calf strain

Player to watch: Liam Feeney

Eddie Howe will know all about 24 year old Millwall winger, Liam Feeney. Feeney helped Bournemouth win promotion to League One in 2010 when Howe was manager at Dean Court. Liam Feeney signed for the Lions on a permanent deal at the end of August for an undisclosed fee after penning a three-year deal.

He has scored one goal so far for his new club and that was in their last game in midweek at Watford. Whilst at Bournemouth, he netted 14 times in 121 appearances for the Cherries after signing for them in 2009 from non-league club, Salisbury.

Burnley Team News:

Strikers, Martin Paterson (thigh) and Danny Ings (torn cartilage) remain sidelined as they each recover from a long-term injury. Michael Duff too is also still recovering from a knee injury and Brian Jensen is still sidelined with a groin problem. Keith Treacy faces yet another late fitness test after missing out on the Forest game following a training injury to his hamstring, the Friday before the Saints game. There are also some reports suggesting Junior Stanislas is still not fully fit despite playing against Forest. He too faces could face a late fitness test after picking up a dead leg.

There are however no further injuries for Howe to worry about and no suspensions which is probably just as well considering the size of our squad and the lack of players and experience available at the moment.

Player to watch: Charlie Austin

Austin is our leading goal scorer in the Championship this season with six league goals to his credit so far. In all competitions, he is joint second with Jay Rodriguez. Both have scored seven goals but five of Jay Rods have been in the Carling Cup! Austin could be key to our success at Millwall and another goal or two will only boost his confidence and ours!!

Team & Tactics:

It would make sense to choose the same sixteen for this clash after the stunning 5-1 thumping of Forest at home on Tuesday night. Keith Treacy faces another late fitness test for this clash but I suspect even if fit, the best he could hope for is a place on the bench unless Stanislas is still not fully fit as some reports suggest.

If Howe goes with my recommendation then we will line-up as follows:

Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Amougou, Easton, Stanislas, McCann, Bartley, Wallace, Austin, Rodriguez

Subs: Stewart, Mee, Marney, Hines, MacDonald (or Treacy if fit)

If we do line up as above, this will be the third time Howe has been able to name the same sixteen and after the encouraging home draw against Southampton and the victory against Forest it would make sense to keep the momentum going since the team seem to be gelling at long last.

Ref Watch:

Wiltshire referee, Simon Hooper will be in charge of this one. He has only been a Football League referee for four seasons and this will be the first time he will have refereed a game involving the Clarets. He has so far this season handed out two reds and 17 yellows in just six games at lower league level. His most senior game so far this season was the Carling Cup clash between Southampton and Preston which finished 2-1 to the Saints. 4 yellow cards were shown in that game! He has been somewhat prolific with the cards since making his first League appearance as a referee. Hooper has sent 27 players off since his first Football league season in 2008-9 from a total of 91 games in charge. The game on Saturday will be only his 15th Championship clash in charge.

Match Prediction:

All we have to do is play like we have against Saints and Forest at home in our last two league games and we should be far too strong for a struggling Millwall who have hit some bad form. They will also be nervous of now being in the bottom three and desperation could set-in especially if we manage to get a goal up. The home crowd may well get on their team`s back if they look under par and that could work to our advantage. I don`t know why but I fancy our chances against the Lions after our recent upbeat performances even though the Den (new or old) has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for the Clarets over the years. Burnley’s only win in their last seven league visits to Millwall was 2-0 in August 2001 I will however predict our second away win of the season and our second league win in succession for the first time since April! Let`s also get shut of another embarrassing statistic and keep our first clean sheet of the season! It is not particularly comfortable to know that we are now one of just three clubs yet to keep a Championship clean sheet so far in 2011-12; indeed in Burnley`s case we have now gone 23 games in all competitions without keeping one! Sod it, 2-0 Clarets and a nervous trip back trying to avoid the numpty Millwall hooligans!

Next Match:

If we do win at Millwall, I hope we don`t repeat what happened following our previous away victory against the Rams at Pride Park. Then, just like now an International Break followed and everybody thought we would be on a high and enjoy the rest! In fact what happened was the nightmare game at home to Middlesbrough! Our next game after the International break will also be at home when we face Reading at Turf Moor on Saturday 15th October (Kick-Off: 3pm). We owe them a tonking Burnley suffered a 4-0 defeat at home to the Royals last season and they also got the double over us winning 2-1 at the Madejski! First things first though, let`s beat Millwall and get some revenge for the 3-0 home defeat to the Lions last season.