Date: 11th January 2007 at 9:22am
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Back to the League and a difficult match against the Saints away at St Marys. Southampton have impressed recently and now find themselves 4th in the League, whereas we now find ourselves 12th after a bad run of form. We have to tighten up our defence but there were some encouraging signs and fighting spirit in the FA Cup match against Reading on Tuesday night. We might also see the two new loan signings feature, Goalkeeper Pollitt and midfielder,Djemba-Djemba

Pre-match Quotes

Dave Kevan,Assistant Manager:

“Southampton are a very good footballing side and (manager) George Burley is well known for having a passing ethic.

“They have got some players who can obviously score goals, so we know it will be a tough test. But we are going down to a good stadium and are looking forward to it.”

Dave goes on to say “Our form in terms of results hasn’t been that good, but generally we have been quite pleased with our form.I think it’s only a slight blip and hopefully we’ll be back on it as soon as possible.I don’t think we are far away. The pleasing thing is that we are still creating chances.

“Should we take more of those opportunities then I’m sure the results will follow. We just need to find the back of net more often and the lads are very positive.

“They feel it will only be a matter of time before they convert more of the opportunities being created and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case.

“Obviously we need to tighten things up at the back, but as a team we haven’t been too far away.

“I think it’s just important that we get the first goal. That would help us and it would force teams to open up a bit more, rather than us having to be the pushing team all the time.”

Southampton Team News:

Many thanks to Vital Southampton for providing the Summary below

Saints have Inigo Idiakez, Nathan Dyer and Andrew Surman out injured as well as long term absentee Michael Svennson. However Gareth Bale, Rudi Skacel, John Viafara and Claus Lundekvam are all expected to be available for selection after recovering from various injuries.Lundekvam however is expected to be wearing a protective face mask after an operation on his cheekbone.

Player to watch: Gregorz Raziak

Chosen by Vital Southampton who are quoted as saying:

Rasiak will be going into this game with the an amazing 18 goals so far this season, however 14 of those goals have come away from home which is a stat that Gregorz will be looking to improve on.

Burnley Team News:

The Clarets can now welcome back Duff after a one match suspension against Reading and maybe we need his influence in defence which was somewhat shaky in the Reading game. The question is will Steve Cotterill start with a similar squad and starting eleven. Eric Djemba-Djemba has also just been signed on a loan and is expected to feature. Steve also indicated he was none to happy with the defence against Reading so perhaps we will see some radical changes to the back four.

One thing is clear we wont be seeing the return of the injured Andy Gray until February at least and its unlikely Danny Coyne will be fit and available as substitute goalkeeper. New loan signing from Wigan, Mike Pollitt also now looks likely to feature in goal if the rumours are true.Frank Sinclair however will still be sidelined but is making good progress

Probable line-up:

Pollitt, Duff, McGreal, Thomas, Harley, Elliott, J O’Connor, McCann or Djemba-Djemba, Jones, Noel-Williams, Akinbiyi.

Subs: Jensen, Mahon, G O’Connor or Spicer, Lafferty, Foster

Player to watch: Ade Akinbiyi

Most Clarets will probably be watching Ade Akinbiyi hoping he can continue his goal scoring after getting the first goal in his second Burnley debut on Tuesday night. Gifton Noel-Williams of late has appeared off form and it will be interesting to see if we continue to play 4:4:2 up front and whether Ade will partner Gifton or Kyle Lafferty

Last Time We Met!

Burnley FC last played the Saints at Turf Moor back in September. We were on the end of 3-2 defeat that day but the match will be remembered more for Wayne Thomas becoming an honourary Saint that day and getting himself sent off effectively gifting the Saints three points! The Clarets faithful were none too pleased and the ructions began about whether Steve Cotterill should find himself a new captain. All this seems to have blown over and Thomas has since returned and has been a good boy since that time whilst retaining the captaincy

Ref Watch:

Tony Bates

Match Prediction:

Difficult one to call, relative League form suggests Saints should win but there were encouraging signs against Reading in the Cup, that we are beginning to show more passion & determination. The fightback and spirit shown in the last 20 minutes at the Madejski was impressive and if they can tighten up the defence with the return of Duff and Ade can continue to blast them in, then I think a draw at least might be on the cards. I will predict 1:1

Next Fixtures:

Norwich at Turf Moor on Saturday 20th January @ 3pm KO