Burnley go marching on to St Mary`s this Saturday hoping to take advantage of high-flying Southampton`s current lack of form
Burnley`s progress and march up the table stalled a little on Saturday after a disappointing home draw against Peterborough in the snowy and icy conditions of Turf Moor. Previously we had managed eight wins in eleven games but at least a point still keeps us in contention for a play-offs spot. We remain just three points behind the sixth placed club Middlesbrough, although it is getting congested up there now. Burnley are currently 11th and are one of a clutch of clubs now within 3 points of a play offs spot. The four clubs above Burnley, Hull, Reading, Leeds and Brighton are all fighting it out with the Clarets for that elusive sixth spot.
If we are to keep up the momentum, we are going to have to pull out all the stops and come away with yet another remarkable victory against a high flying club this Saturday. This time we face second-placed Southampton at St Marys. Burnley though will be encouraged by their away form this season and some impressive wins on the road including victories over current league leaders, West Ham and play-offs hopefuls, Middlesbrough. They currently have the Championship`s second best record away from home, and have won an unrivalled five away games against top-half clubs.
Southampton will be wary of the Clarets and it is vital we take advantage of Nigel Adkins men current lack of form and recent wobble. At one point they looked to be storming away with the Championship title but have been pegged back in recent weeks and have now been overtaken by West Ham in top spot. They do have eight points more than the Clarets though and on 52 points that`s just four behind the Hammers.
The Saints have not won though now in three league games and also lost a FA Cup replay at home to Millwall in midweek. Indeed at home they have not won any of their last four games so that should give some comfort to the Clarets who have already picked up 8 wins on their travels so far this season in the Championship.
Southampton Team News:
Nigel Adkins has virtually a full squad to choose from.
Former Burnley defender, Danny Fox looks set to return for Southampton after being suspended for the FA Cup game in midweek at home to Millwall. Another former Claret, Richard Chaplow is also chomping at the bit to make a Championship start against his old club. He has not featured in a league game in over two months due to injury but completed a 90 minute run-out against Millwall in the FA Cup match this week.
Billy Sharp, Kelvin Davis, Jack Cork, Morgan Schneiderlin and Iago Falque are also all set to feature after missing the FA Cup game due to being ineligible or being rested. Sharp could make his home debut and first start after recently signing from Doncaster Rovers in the January window.
Midfielder-cum-defender, Danny Butterfield and defender, Dan Seaborne though remain sidelined with injuries.
Player to watch: Rickie Lambert
29 year old striker, Rickie Lambert has scored 20 goals for Southampton in all competitions this season and is easily their top goal scorer (The next is Brazilian attacking midfielder, Guly Do Prado with just eleven) In August 2009 Lambert completed a move from Bristol Rovers to Southampton in a deal worth in excess of £1 million and since that time he has scored at a rate of about one goal in every 1-2 games. All we have to do then is keep Lambert quiet! Simples!!
Burnley Team News:
Junior Stanislas (hamstring) looks likely to remain sidelined but it is thought Martin Paterson could have recovered from his hamstring injury and be in contention for a place.
Eddie Howe otherwise would appear to have a full squad to choose from and we could see the same sixteen that could only manage a 1-1 draw against Posh at Turf Moor last Saturday.
Player to watch: Ben Mee
It will be interesting to see how Ben Mee fares in this game at left back, bearing in mind his predecessor, Danny Fox is now playing for the opposition! There will be inevitable comparisons as the game progresses with many Clarets fans currently thinking Mee, despite being more suited to a centre back role is just as effective if not better than Fox at left back!
Team & Tactics:
With no fresh injuries to concern the gaffer, the most obvious team choice could be to select the same sixteen as the one named last Saturday to face Posh. After a hesitant start and poor performance in the first half against Peterborough, the team rallied in the second half and we looked very much the stronger team in the blizzard conditions that was Turf Moor last Saturday so Howe may be tempted to keep things the same. Martin Paterson though could now be pushing for a place after recovering from a hamstring injury and I would not be surprised to see him named on the bench probably at the expense of Hines.
I will plump for the following sixteen assuming we stick to a basic 4-4-2 formation and Howe is not tempted to be more defensive and go 4-5-1 or variations thereof involving a holding midfielder.
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, McCann, Marney, McQuoid, Rodriguez, Austin
Subs: Jensen, Easton, Bartley, Treacy, Hines (or Paterson)
The Whistling Kettle? Let`s hope not too much, but referee Trevor Kettle is in charge of this clash. The Berkshire referee has dished out one red card and 24 yellows so far this season, which doesn`t sound too bad until you realise he has only featured in 7 games so far in 2011-12!
His last game in charge of a match featuring Burnley was our home game against Ipswich back in April 2011; sadly a match we lost 2-1 with a staggering seven yellow cards shown!
You have to be wary of Saints current lack of form, you just sense it will change soon and we all have to hope they don`t find it on Saturday. I feel somewhat nervous of this one despite our good away record this season. There is no doubt we are capable of beating Southampton and they will be wary of the Clarets knowing we have returned from both Upton Park and the Riverside so far this season with maximum points. It would be a massive result if we could win this one, indeed it would be to pick up anything at St Mary`s. I think I will err on the cautious side therefore and predict a 2-2 draw.
It`s Barnsley next at home on the night of Tuesday 14th February (Kick-Off: 7:45pm) so all Clarets fans will be hoping for a St Valentine`s Day Massacre!