The Clarets continue their sequence of four games against sides that finished in the Top 5 of the Premier League last season and this; their third is arguably their most difficult. Burnley face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this Saturday in a game that kicks off early at 12:45 pm to accommodate the wishes of ESPN who are televising the match live.
Chelsea of course are currently in awesome form under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. They are in second spot with maximum points after three league games just behind Spurs on goal difference. The London club now look to be getting used to the new diamond system preferred by Ancelotti and it will need a superhuman effort by the Clarets if we are to get anything from this game.
Burnley though are used to superhuman efforts and will certainly not be phased by this game. All Clarets fans will remember what happened at Stamford Bridge last season in the Carling Cup and we have had a remarkable start to our first season in the top flight for over 33 years. Fortress Turf Moor has seen the Clarets defeat current Champions, Manchester United 1-0 and then despatch Everton in similar fashion in our last two games. Those six points, which few thought we would now have has propelled the Clarets into 7th spot in the league table but now the team has to prove what it can do away from home after the disappointing loss to Stoke at the Britannia Stadium in the season opener.
Predicted Team Sheet
Owen Coyle will no doubt return to the eighteen that did so well against Manchester United and Everton for the Chelsea match. He made ten changes for the midweek Carling Cup game at Hartlepool but in the end we had to rely on the big guns coming on in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory against the League 1 side. It is probably safe to say none of the fringe players given a chance to stake a claim for a regular first team spot at Victoria Park did enough against Hartlepool.
One player who won`t be in contention is Richard Eckerlsey who was sent off in the Hartlepool game after picking up two yellows. Tyrone Mears would probably have been selected ahead of him though so this was not particularly a crucial loss for the Clarets.
Steven Caldwell is still sidelined with a groin injury and Michael Duff (ankle injury) is also likely to miss out but he looks close to making a return after playing one half of a reserves match against Everton Reserves in midweek.
Alexander I suspect will return to the team as the holding midfielder and we will line up either 4-1-4-1 or 4-1-3-2 as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Paterson, Fletcher
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Eagles, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Guerrero, Thompson
Chelsea Team News:
Joe Cole has returned to training this week but this is probably a game too soon for him. Alex is also still sidelined with an hernia injury but other than those two Ancelotti has a full squad to choose from and will pick his 18 from the following:
Cech, Turnbull, Hilario, A Cole, Terry, Carvalho, Ivanovic, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Lampard, Ballack, Mikel, Malouda, Essien, Deco, Zhirkov, Anelka, Drogba, Kalou, Sturridge, Shevchenko.
Player to watch: All of Them,Silly!
All we have to do is keep Lampard, Drogba, Anelka and the rest quiet! Yeah right!
Burnley Team News:
Eckersley is serving a one-match suspension after picking up a double yellow and being sent off against Hartlepool in midweek. Caldwell (groin) is still sidelined and Duff (ankle) looks doubtful.
Player to watch: Brian Jensen
Brian Jensen will have to be on top form with Anelka and Drogba lurking about. His brave heroics and penalty saves in the Carling Cup game last season came to our rescue but he will be hoping that this time he won`t have to face a penalty. He must be getting fed up of penalties by now having already had to save Carrick`s spot kick against Manchester United and then in the next game have to face Saha who obligingly fluffed his penalty for Everton to put it wide.
Back to the Future
We all of course remember the victory at Stamford Bridge last season in the Carling Cup after Ade Akinbiyi got our equaliser and eventually the Beast came to our rescue in the penalty shoot out but it is actually 38 years since we last beat Chelsea in a league match on their home soil. Owen Coyle was five years old when Burnley beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge back in April 1971. The last time we were in the top flight back in the 1975-76 season Chelsea were actually a second division team but we would be soon be joining them after being relegated that season. In the following season with both teams slogging it out in the second tier of English football, the Clarets went down 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in November 1976 (Noble getting our goal in the 77th minute) but managed to defeat them at home 1-0 in the return game at Turf Moor (Ingham scored 5 minutes from time). Chelsea would be promoted that season in second place with Burnley struggling and finishing 16th.
The newly reinstated Mark Clattenburg (Durham)
I would be delighted to get anything at Stamford Bridge and although my heart is hoping for a point, my head is telling me to prepare to die. A point though would really give the Clarets sky high confidence with Liverpool at Anfield next up after the International break.Can we really get anything with Anelka and Drogba in such devastating form? Chelsea have now won their last 11 Premier League matches in a row and taken an impressive 43 points from the last 48 available. Can we dare to dream once more and is that another record just waiting to be destroyed? Manchester United 17 wins in 17 against newly promoted clubs until they played the Clarets and Everton, 5th last season, 18 out of 18. Owen Coyle will certainly have them fired up and believing in themselves but what a tall order this will be. 1-1 Clarets and the heart wins again!
Our lads will be taking a well earned rest after this match apart from Paterson (Northern Ireland) and Caldwell, Fletcher and Alexander (Scotland) who will be on World Cup 2010 Qualifying duty during the International break. Our next match completes the four consecutive games against last season`s Top 5 clubs and they are not getting any easier with a trip to Anfield to play Liverpool on Saturday 12th September. (3pm KO)