Burnley play fellow promotion chasing Hull City at Turf Moor on New Year`s Eve in our last game of 2011. The Clarets will be hoping to continue their recent form, get closer to the play-offs spots and put themselves in an ideal position for the start of 2012.
The Clarets have now completed the first half of the season having played all clubs at least once. They now start the reverse set of fixtures and first up is Hull City at Turf Moor on New Year`s Eve.
Hull City must be sick and tired of Burnley with the Clarets having won their last five games against them. Our last victory of course, only last November in the reverse fixture at the KC Stadium was a remarkable comeback with the Clarets 2-0 down getting three goals in the last fifteen minutes to win 3-2. That win spurred the Clarets on and since that game we have only lost one of the last five matches, getting maximum points from the remaining four and marching up the table to be within three points of the sixth-placed club, Reading.
Burnley, currently in 9th spot, now have the ideal opportunity to get their first double of the season at the first attempt and get ever closer to the top six for the start of 2012.
Of course, the Tigers will have other ideas! Hull`s form has also improved since we beat them at the KC and they are currently riding high in 5th spot, six points ahead of the Clarets. Hull City’s caretaker manager Nick Barmby will certainly be keen to keep the Clarets at bay and maintain Hull`s play-offs push. The Humberside club have won four of their last six games, losing two. In terms of their away form, they have won three and lost three. They lost 1-0 away to high-flying Middlesbrough in their last game on Boxing Day but managed to contain Boro for 87 minutes before conceding.
The Clarets will have to have their wits about them in this clash if they want to win their third consecutive game. Come on lads, let`s keep the momentum going and maintain the high spirits into the New Year.
Burnley Team News:
Danny Ings (cartilage) and Brian Jensen (groin) are expected to be available for selection early in the New Year but they will not be in contention for the Hull clash this Saturday.
News is awaited on Michael Duff. The centre-back limped off injured in the game against Doncaster Rovers on Boxing Day and could be sidelined against the Tigers.
Player to watch: Dean Marney
Marney was in top form against Doncaster Rovers and could be set to make another start, this time against his former club.
Hull City Team News:
Hull City have had an unchanged starting eleven for the last five games but they will now be forced into at least one change. 27 year old right back, Liam Rosenior picked up a one match ban after collecting his fifth yellow card in Hull`s last game at Middlesbrough and will be suspended for the Clarets clash.
The Tigers though do not have any fresh injury concerns to worry about and look set to make only the one change.
Midfielder, Seyi Olofinjana has been sidelined for nearly 20 months with a knee injury and is almost the forgotten man at the KC Stadium. There is a possibility though that he could feature at some point over the festive season after playing in the Reserves recently.
Winger, Martin Pusic is also still sidelined with a groin injury and hasn`t played since mid October.
Player to watch: Robert Koren
Matty Fryatt (who we reviewed for the clash at the KC last November) is Hull`s top scorer at the moment this season with 8 goals but not far behind him is Robert Koren. The 31 year old, Slovenia international midfielder currently has seven goals to his credit; all scored in the Championship this season. Koren was released by West Brom in May 2010 after they decided not to extend his contract. He signed on a free transfer for Hull City in 2010 agreeing a two-year contract.
Team & Tactics:
With games coming think and fast over the festive period, Eddie Howe has indicated he might consider squad rotation in the next two games. There is also some doubt that Duff will be fit enough to play after coming off in the Doncaster game on Boxing Day.
I would imagine we would play 4-4-2 again at home again although at one point we did have five in midfield with a lone striker up front in our last game at home to Doncaster. It would seem cruel to drop either Rodriguez or Paterson with both getting on the score-sheet in our last game, so expect both to start again with Vokes and Austin on the bench. The changes could take place up front in our next game away to Leeds when we are more likely to adopt a 4-5-1 or similar formation.
Eddie Howe also has options in midfield but if we play 4-4-2 he will have to decide who will partner captain Chris McCann in the centre. Dean Marney made a start against Doncaster Rovers with Marvin Bartley dropped to the bench. The former Hull City midfielder looks likely to keep his place against his former club after being many fan`s man of the match on Boxing Day.
Keith Treacy seems to be totally out of contention at the moment despite Junior Stanslas failing to deliver on so many occasions. Howe appears to be sticking with Stanislas however so we can probably expect the same on Saturday.
I have made the assumption that Duff won`t make the game against Hull due to his injury, but if he is fit, he should be back in the centre of defence. If Duff is absent, the obvious replacement will be Mee in the centre with Easton making a start at left-back.
In summary then, I suspect Howe will make more changes for the Leeds game rather than Hull so on that basis I will go for the following predicted line-up:
Grant, Trippier, Mee, Edgar, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Stanislas, Rodriguez, Paterson
Subs: Stewart, Amougou, Bartley, Vokes, Austin
Staffordshire referee, Christopher Sarginson is in charge of this clash. His 17 games so far this season have produced three red cards and forty four yellows. Three of those yellow cards were shown in his last game involving the Clarets which was against Barnet in the Carling Cup back in August this year.
Well we are certainly Hull`s bogey team at the moment having won all five of our last encounters and they will certainly be seeking revenge after the recent 3-2 defeat at the KC Stadium only last November. Somehow though we have to keep our resolve, secure three points and continue our own push for promotion.
Our first double of the season at our first attempt would be sweet but it won`t be easy against a side in form and challenging for a play-offs spot. You sense we are going to have to up our game a bit against the Tigers. We have ridden our luck somewhat in our last two games despite picking up victories away to nine-man Brighton and at home to Doncaster. The performances to be honest have not been that convincing and we might not get away with a similar one against Hull City.
This is certainly a winnable game but it won`t be a formality. I will go with a 3-1 victory though.
Our first game of 2012 takes place on Bank Holiday Monday 2nd January when we visit Elland Road to play Leeds United. (Kick-Off: 3pm)