The Clarets face league leaders, Southampton at Turf Moor this Saturday desperate to get their first home league victory under their belts.
The Clarets are struggling in the league to say the least at the moment. A 3-0 home win for Ipswich against Coventry on Monday night actually moved the Clarets up one place to 20th ahead of the Sky Blues on goal difference but our situation is still precarious. With just five points from six games, we are only avoiding the bottom three places on goal difference at the moment but at least we still have a one game advantage over all the clubs around us.
Our last league game at Turf Moor against another high-flying club, Middlesbrough was an unmitigated disaster and one of the worst performances I have seen at Turf Moor in many a season even under Brian Laws. We at least showed a bit of fight and passion in our last league game away to Peterborough last Saturday but again failed to get any points going down 2-1. Also of course the team may have been buoyed up by their victory on Tuesday night against MK Dons in the Carling Cup third round but even that was less than totally inspiring against a League 1 side, certainly from a fans perspective but at least they showed tenacity and spirit to come from a goal behind and eventually win 2-1.
The problem for the Clarets also is that we still have to record our first league home win of the season at Turf Moor, having lost one and drawn twice since the start of the season. It is not a good time then for league leaders, Southampton to come a visiting this Saturday. They have taken the Championship by storm this season after being promoted from League 1 last season as runners-up.
Under the leadership of manager, Nigel Adkins the Saints continue to ‘go marching on` and at the moment seem to be brushing all aside In four of their league games out of the seven played so far, they have scored 3 goals or more including a 5-2 away thumping of Ipswich Town and a 4-1 win over Birmingham at St Marys in their last game.
If that`s not bad enough, they have also been active in the transfer market as we know to our cost. They have of course signed both Danny Fox and Jack Cork this summer. Both now look set to face us this Saturday. Another former Claret, Richard Chaplow might also be lining up against us. Oh well, I suppose at least we managed to hold onto Jay Rodriguez although it`s a pity since the closing of the summer transfer window that Jay Rod has looked under-par and failed to score.
Southampton too had a midweek game in the Carling Cup against League 1 opposition. Local rivals, Preston put up a fight but in the end lost out 2-1. Adkins though made ten changes to the side that thumped Brum and only Chaplow, of the former Clarets played. Fox was of course cup-tied having played for the Clarets in the earlier rounds and Cork was an unused substitute. Although they played their game the night after we did, any hopes they would have less time to recover in time for Saturday holds no water, since most of the first team didn`t feature against North End.
Burnley over the years have always won games when you have least expected them to! Boy, do we need such an unexpected win this Saturday! Come on you Clarets dig deep and let`s go for it!
Burnley Team News:
Martin Paterson (thigh), Danny Ings (cartilage) and Michael Duff (knee) remain long-term casualties Brian Jensen is also out of contention following the groin injury he picked up in the game against Posh. He looks set to be out for up to three weeks following the results of a scan this week.
Junior Stanislas was cup-tied for the game against MK Dons at Turf Moor in the Carling Cup last Tuesday night so will now be again available for selection.
Ben Mee, who has been suffering from headaches since his ordeal at Peterborough after being knocked unconscious, missed out on the Carling Cup game in midweek but could be back in contention on Saturday. There is no news of any further injury concerns following the midweek game.
Player to watch: Keith Treacy
If Treacy plays to his full-potential, something we have rarely seen this season, then his performance could be key to the Clarets winning this game. Hopefully he can dazzle his way through the Saints defence down the flank and maybe repeat the glorious goal he scored from 25 yards out in the match against Peterborough at London Road last Saturday.
Southampton Team News:
Defender Dan Harding (knee) failed a late fitness test ahead of Saints last league game against Birmingham and did not feature in the midweek Carling Cup game at home to Preston. It remains to be seen if he is fit enough to play against the Clarets.
Radhi Jaidi could still be sidelined with a knee injury having also missed the Carling Cup tie in midweek, so Jos Hooiveld could keep his place at centre half.
Another defender Dan Seaborne is also recovering from head injuries that he recently sustained in a brawl outside a Southampton night club. Although serious the injury has been confirmed to be not life-threatening and he is now out of hospital recovering from his ordeal. Striker Lee Barnard is also still sidelined.
Player to watch: Rickie Lambert
Lambert is the Saints leading goal-scorer so far this season with eight goals in all competitions; six of them in the Championship. He has scored five goals over the last three games including a hat-trick in Saints recent 3-2 victory at home to Forest. The 29 year old has played most of his career at lower league level and had stints at Blackpool, Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before joining Southampton. He joined the Saints in August 2009 with the club then in League 1 and has since been rattling the goals in. Lambert scores at the rate of one goal every 1-2 games and our defence will certainly need to keep him in check on Saturday.
Team & Tactics:
There is an argument against Saints that a more defensive formation might be the order of the day with a five men midfield and one up front but that is hardly the best option if we want to be positive and go out for victory. It also begs the question whether we have anybody capable in our limited squad at the moment who could play the holding midfield role with Grezza of course no longer at the club and Jack Cork now playing for the opposition! David Edgar could be a possibility, with a back four of Trippier, Amougou, Mee and Easton but personally I think we would be better sticking with 4-4-2 and try to get that first goal and put the Saints under some pressure.
In terms of our league games, Howe has fielded the same starting eleven for the last three matches and apart from the Derby victory at Pride Park before the international break we have looked at times clueless and under-par with far too many individuals not firing on all cylinders. It really is time in my opinion for Howe to wring the changes for our Championship campaign.
Some useful clues could be gleaned from the team changes he made for the Carling Cup game against MK Dons on Tuesday night. Amougou had a pretty good game in the centre of defence and of course he scored a bonus goal. I think it is time to give him a run out, either by giving Ben Mee further time to recover or by dropping Edgar to the bench.
It is also time I think to see what both Hines and Stanislas can do together over the full 90 minutes and I would drop Wallace and Jay Rodriguez to make way for them. Dropping Jay Rod might also be an advantage with Southampton sniffing around him although if he had another bad game they might feel like backing off come the January window. Hines did start against MK Dons in midweek, although was not particularly effective. The former West Ham striker may have scuppered his chances for a start on Saturday but I think he should be given another chance.
Bartley too deserves another run out over 90 minutes after starting the MK Dons match and being our most effective midfielder. He should play instead of Marney in my opinion. In summary then I would line up as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Amougou, Mee (if fit), Easton, Stanislas, McCann, Bartley, Treacy, Hines, Austin
Subs: Stewart, Edgar, Marney, Wallace, Rodriguez
Premier League referee, Anthony Taylor from Manchester is in charge of this clash. He has certainly been prolific showing his cards this season! In only four games so far in 2011-12, he has already flashed 20 yellows and 3 reds and in one Championship game last month between Leeds and Middlesbrough sent off three players and booked another seven.
This is probably the worst possible time to be playing the League leaders with the club struggling at the wrong end of the table and yet to record their first home league win of the season. It is difficult to see how the Clarets are going to be able to contain the Saints who seem to be in rampant form having won five of their last six league games. My brain is struggling with my heart at the moment, and I just can`t see on paper how we are going to get three points from this one. The thought of Cork and Fox playing against us is also giving me the jitters as well as a sense of bitter annoyance. I will go with a 2-2 draw and even then I have my doubts we can get a point looking at the way we have been playing recently. I know I should have more faith. What I will say is that the home crowd need to get behind both the manager and team no matter what happens on Saturday.
The sequence of home games continues on Tuesday night next week ( 27th September) when we face Nottingham Forest at Turf Moor(Kick-Off 7:45pm)