Date: 25th November 2011 at 4:42pm
Written by:

The Clarets having lost four consecutive league games will be hoping to stop the rot against Hull City at the KC Stadium on Saturday.

The Pre-amble:

Burnley are precariously placed fourth from bottom in the Championship at the moment just two points off the drop zone. They have suffered four league defeats in succession and will be desperate to return to winning ways. The Clarets have a difficult task ahead of them on Saturday travelling to 6th placed Hull City and they know that another defeat could mean they will be in the bottom three over the weekend if resurgent third-from-bottom club Bristol City also manage to beat league leaders, Southampton at Ashton Gate.

The psychological effects of being in the relegation zone on the back of five consecutive defeats just doesn`t bare thinking about and that would certainly put Eddie Howe under more pressure to rectify the problems before it`s too late, especially in defence. The Clarets have not lost five on the bounce since January 2009.

Hull on the other hand are riding high, despite having recently lost their manager, Nigel Pearson following his departure to become gaffer at Leicester City again. Caretaker manager, Nick Barmby takes charge of his first home match this Saturday having got off to a winning start following Hull`s 2-0 away win at Derby on Saturday. The win moved Hull into the play-offs positions and they currently sit in 6th spot with 27 points from 16 games.

That is incredibly 9 points clear of the Clarets and they still have a game in hand! Hull City of course, were relegated along with Burnley from the Premier League three seasons ago with many saying they would have a fraught future in light of their financial problems. So yet again, here we have a club doing better than Burnley, who tightly or wrongly decided to adopt a frugal ‘can`t live beyond our means` approach.

The Tigers though do have some vulnerability if only the Clarets could exploit it on Saturday. The KC Stadium has been kind to the Clarets for the past few seasons and Burnley are also chasing their fifth successive win over Hull who have not managed to defeat the Clarets since March 2008 when the Tigers enjoyed a 2-0 home win. Since that time, the Clarets have scored a total of 11 goals in the last four victories. Hull`s home form this season was impressive until they lost 2-0 to West Ham at the KC Stadium in Pearson`s last game in charge. Before that they had won four on the bounce!

There is one interesting statistic though that might give our defence some comfort. Hull have only managed seven goals at home all season, the second worst in the Championship with only bottom club, Doncaster Rovers holding this dubious record to date with just five.

Hull City Team News:

Defender and skipper, Andy Dawson could be back for his first game since September following a knee injury but the Tigers will be without the suspended striker, Aaron McLean. Mclean received his fifth booking of the season in last week’s win at Derby and serves an automatic one-game ban.

Striker, Martyn Waghorn (hamstring), winger Martin Pusic (hip) and midfielders Seyi Olofinjana and Richard Garcia (both knee) remain on the injured list. With a number of injuries to their strike force, former Burnley loanee, Dele Adebola looks set to play against his former club.

Player to watch: Matty Fryatt

Fryatt is Hull City`s leading goal scorer this season with five goals so far in the Championship. The 25 year old striker joined Hull City from Leicester in January this year in a £1.2 million deal. He got off to a slow start with the Tigers but now seems to have found some form scoring four goals in the last seven games!

Burnley Team News:

Dean Marney seemed to shake off an early knock after coming on from the bench at St Andrews on Tuesday night. Hopefully, he has not suffered any after effects and will available for Saturday.

All the other injured players are making steady progress but they will not be available for selection on Saturday. Brian Jensen is back in training and is on the road to recovery following his groin injury. Charlie Austin`s shoulder dislocation is not as bad as first feared and he faces a scan today (Friday) which should give some indication on how long he could be sidelined. Martin Paterson is close to making a return after suffering a recurrence of the thigh injury in our first game of the season. The club are hoping to give him some match practice in behind-the-scenes and reserves games but he could return to the first team before Christmas. Danny Ings too is making good progress in recovering from his cartilage injury and he could be available to make his debut for the Clarets in January.

Player to watch: Michael Duff

Duff was our best defender by some distance against Birmingham in midweek being a candidate for Man of the Match. He has looked solid since his return from injury and can at times be commanding in the back four and chivvy the rest into action. We certainly need our defence to improve though and all eyes will be on Duff again on Saturday. Duff may not be the most technically brilliant defender but he is our most experienced. Let`s hope he can pass on that experience and get the rest of the back four to play at a high standard with some consistency.

Team & Tactics:

The loan window closed on Thursday and anybody expecting some new faces on show for the Clarets on Saturday will have been disappointed. No new signings were made and indeed our squad was reduced by one after Wes Fletcher departed for Crewe on a loan until the 15th January.

The game comes too soon for any of our longer term-injured and I suspect Eddie Howe will be tempted to select a similar sixteen to the one that lost at St Andrews in midweek. There is no reason either to believe he will change the 4-4-2 formation. I would make changes if I am honest to the back four but I doubt if Howe will make an. My preferred back four would be Trippier, Duff, Amougou and Mee with Mee at left back. I would also make Duff captain but I can`t see that happening even though he did take up the armband after McCann was replaced for tactical reasons against Brum.

Mee is not even making the sixteen these days and Howe seems obstinate and determined not to give Amougou any starts. We can expect the following then assuming Marney has not suffered any after effects from the niggling injury that seemed to affect him after coming on from the bench against Brum.

Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Bartley, Treacy, Rodriguez, Vokes

Subs: Stewart, Amougou (or Mee), Marney, Stanislas, Hines

Ref Watch:

Premier League referee, Mike Jones from Chester is in charge of this clash. Jones’ last Burnley game was our 0-0 draw against QPR at Turf Moor in January last season. A remarkable seven yellow cards were shown that day! This season, he has also been quite prolific handing out 3 red and 48 yellow cards in his 10 games in charge so far (more than 5 cards/match)

Match Prediction:

A defeat simply can not be contemplated and yet a win seems pretty remote based on current form. Hull are fighting for a play-offs spot and we might struggle to get something at the KC, despite this ground being kind to us over the recent past. I will go with a 1-1 draw; at least that will ensure we don`t drop into the bottom three no matter what Bristol City achieve at home against Southampton on Saturday (unless they beat the Saints 8-0 and go above us on goal difference!)

Next Match:

The busy November schedule continues with a home game against Ipswich Town on the night of Tuesday 29th November (Kick-Off-7:45pm)