Burnley face an intriguing match away to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park today after what can only be described as a disastrous start to the season.
In the first two games of the 2008/9 season they have leaked seven goals and scored just once with the defence lacking confidence, looking shaky and making individual errors.
It was only three months ago on Sunday 4th May, the last day of the 2007/8 season that the Clarets made a similar journey and found themselves on the end of a 5-0 drubbing as Palace prepared for an unsuccessful attempt to get promoted via the play offs.
That defeat was the first that the Clarets had leaked more than three goals since the days of Stan Ternent and we just have to hope that the leaking of goals since is not an indication that we are returning to the days of the last two seasons of Stan`s reign when some bizarre scores were notched up with the Clarets usually on the receiving end.
Palace on the other hand appear to have the opposite problem. They can`t seem to score and have lost their strike power up front following the transfer of Clinton Morrison to Coventry earlier in the month.
In their first two league games, they played out a 0-0 draw at home to Watford and then went down 2-0 away to Preston.
The scene is therefore set for today`s game and something clearly has to give. Let’s hope it`s the Eagles defence and we can score helped by our own Eagles, the one named Chris!
It is believed Kevin McDonald could well be named in the starting eleven today and given his full debut for the Clarets and three of the players on International duty this week will also be given fitness checks.
Northern Ireland duo Martin Paterson and Michael Duff as well as Scotland defender Graham Alexander are the players involved.
Despite plenty of rumours on the transfer front this week, notably alleged targeted defenders, there has been no new signings so there is little that can be done in the back four.
If I were Owen Coyle I would reconsider the formation we are currently playing. The 4-2-3-1 is clearly confusing a number of players, notably Wade Elliott and maybe it`s time to move to 4-4-2 with a couple of more defensive-minded holding midfielders supporting the back four.
I also have concerns about our attack; we seem to be far too reliant on Paterson getting the goals. He is quite capable of doing so, but we do need other options in my opinion up front and I would dearly love to get a tall striker in a 4:4:2 to both assist and feed off Paterson.
We were linked to former Luton and Derby striker, Steve Howard in midweek and the 32 year old, now at Leicester would be ideal assuming at that age he still has enough pace.
If not maybe it is time to try Jay Rodriguez up front with Paterson.
Predicted Team Sheet
Well before I put up the prediction, I would like to put forward the team I would try in 4-4-2 knowing full well, Coyle will not agree!
Penny, Duff, Carlisle, McCann, Kalvenes, Eliott, van der Schaaf, Gudjonsson, Eagles, Paterson, Rodriguez.
Subs: Jensen, Jordan, McDonald, Akinbiyi, Blake
Penny appears to have been made the scapegoat for the opening 4-1 shocker at Hillsborough and although Jensen is playing well, we really have to decide who our number 1 goalkeeper is going to be and give him a chance. At the moment that is Penny and we need to ask are we giving him enough games to build his confidence?
Although Alexander had a better game against Ipswich, I still think his lack of pace and wayward passing is a problem and the same goes for Steven Caldwell, both are making too many schoolboy errors in defence and Coyle really ought to be brave and drop both Captain and Vice-captain.
It is time to be radical in the back four but we have few options. McCann can play centre back, so let`s see if that works and release him into midfield if it doesn`t.
Let`s have Gudjonsson and Van der Schaaf playing the defensive midfield roles and help out the nervy back four.
Can we also stick to 4-4-2 and give Paterson a breather, Jay Rodriguez would be up for this so give him a go at partnering Paterson?
Anyway that`s my fantasy football over with. This is the team I think he will select, assuming Alexander, Duff and Paterson are fit
Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Eagles, McCann, McDonald, Eliott, Blake, Paterson
Subs: Penny, Jordan, Gudjonsson, Akinbiyi, van der Schaaf
Crystal Palace Team News:
Neil Warnock will be looking at ways to increase his firepower up front with the side still to score in the League this season.
Victor Moses could therefore start and another youngster Sean Scannell may also feature if 4-3-3 is at the back of the gaffer`s mind.
Player to watch: John Oster
Former Clarets winger, Oster recently signed for Palace on a Bosman following his release from Reading in the close season and could be handful for our pace-less back four
Burnley Team News:
Kevin McDonald looks set to make his full team debut for the Clarets in midfield.
Fitness tests for Alexander, Paterson and Duff all on International duty this week are also scheduled.
Berisha has of course been loaned out but Coyle otherwise seems to have a full squad to choose from.
Player to watch: Clarke Carlisle
Clarke Carlisle will want to make amends for his sending off at Palace in the last match of 2007/8.
The bizarre red card leaving the Clarets with 10 men for most of the match contributed to our heaviest defeat in a number of seasons and Carlisle won`t want to see a repeat of that 5-0 scoreline.
The sending off ensured Carlisle would miss the first two games of 2008/9 and he has only just returned playing in our last match against Ipswich at Turf Moor last Saturday.
Carlisle has now made nearly 300 appearances in his eleven year professional career to date and will want to impress today as the back-four seek to tighten up and show some resolve.
Last Time We Met
On the last day of the season, back in May, the Eagles were up for a play-offs place in this match with the Clarets nothing to play for.
We suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat playing with ten men from the 9th minute following the sending off of Clarke Carlisle.
We were two goals down after 10 minutes and never recovered.
In the corresponding fixture at Turf Moor we played out a 1-1 draw back in September 2007 with Blake scoring the goal. That match will be remembered most though for the injury to Duff, one that would keep him out with cruciate ligament damage for a number of months.
Iain Williamson (Berkshire)
We have to avoid a tonking at all cost and get at least a point to restore some confidence.
It`s a difficult one to call but I will go for a 1-1 draw.
Oldham at Turf Moor in the second round of the Carling Cup on Tuesday 26th August @ 7:45 pm KO followed by a League match against Plymouth at home on Saturday 30th August with a 3pm KO