Oh no it`s another home game at Turf Moor! Well that`s what Clarets fans are forced to say these days, with still no win at the hallowed ground now since the 23rd October, when Norwich found themselves on the end of a 2-1 defeat. Before that, it was a win against West Brom on the opening game of the season.
In fact the whole of 2007 saw just six wins, mainly due to the disastrous 19 match winless run we had between 2nd December 2006 and 3rd April 2007.
Of course, we have since changed manager, but the home form of the new gaffer is actually worse on paper than the previous incumbent. In Owen Coyle`s home games we have played five teams and not won a single one managing only three points with draws against Stoke, Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday with two disastrous defeats against QPR and our rivals, Preston. Both clubs propping up the Division at the time we played them.
Quite a few fans though are still saying they prefer Coyle`s style of play (even at home) to the more defensive play under Cotterill and certainly our away form has been impressive with no defeat since October (before Coyle even became the new gaffer) The record away under Coyle reads no defeats, three wins and one draw and it`s those results on the road that are keeping the lads in contention for a play-offs place.
We are 10th at the moment on 34 points from 24 games but still only three points away from the sixth placed club, Plymouth. As previously stated, it we miss out on a chance of promotion this season, our home form will be the first to come under the microscope.
Today we play our last match of 2007 with Bristol City the visitors. The newcomers to the Championship, having been promoted from League 1 last season, are flying high and already find themselves in 4th spot with 41 points. However, they will be smarting from a 4-1 drubbing in their Boxing Day match away to leaders, West Brom, so let`s hope this will be a chink in their armour and their confidence will have been shattered.
It won`t be an easy team selection for the Clarets gaffer especially in midfield. Gudjonsson, McCann and Spicer are all suspended after picking up straight reds in recent matches. Graham Alexander, an option for midfield, will also have to sit out this match thanks to a one match ban after picking up a fifth yellow against Ipswich two matches ago. Alan Mahon has also missed the last couple of matches with an hamstring injury and again he remains doubtful.
The most worrying news though is that leading scorer, Andy Gray could again miss the match. He was the surprise omission in the last match on Boxing Day against Leicester City at Turf Moor. Various rumours circulated amongst the fans, that his absence was due to a hand injury, a training injury in midweek and worst of all, transfer speculation that he might be going to Charlton in January. The official line appears to be that Andy Gray needed four stitches to a leg injury following the draw at Ipswich on 22 December and it was this injury that kept him out of contention.
Clarke Carlisle however is now fit and played on Boxing Day but with Alexander suspended, it is anybody`s guess how the back four and midfield will look. One option might be to see the return of Jordan to the team at left back allowing Harley again to slot into midfield with James O`Connor. This would release Carlisle to play at right back with Unsworth and Caldwell in the centre. A possible team selection therefore could be:
Kiraly, Carlisle, Caldwell, Unsworth, Jordan, James O`Connor, Harley, Elliott, Lafferty, Blake, Akinbiyi.
Subs: Jensen, Garreth O`Connor, Jones, Rodriguez, ANO?
I don`t think we have anyone left in the current squad to make up the fifth sub, that is how bad things are and we really are down to the bare bones. If Alan Mahon is close to fitness, they might risk him on the bench. Somehow we have to get through the next handful of games, hope we can pick up points and look forward to the return of the injured and suspended players in the New Year.
The club badly needs to add to the squad numbers if we are to stand any chance of promotion this season and all Clarets fans will be hoping for a positive January transfer window and the Board continuing to ‘walk the talk` of ambition.
‘There is no magic fairy dust, we just need to keep working hard and trying to get that home win on the board.’
Burnley Team News:
Gudjonsson, McCann, Spicer and Alexander all suspended. Mahon doubtful with an hamstring injury and Andy Gray could still be sidelined
Player to watch: Ade Akinbiyi
Ade could make only his third start of the season and will be keen to make an impression after being second fiddle to Andy Gray and Robbie Blake for most of the season.
Bristol City Team News:
Bristol City manager, Gary Johnson will be without Louis Carey (Achilles) and Liam Fontaine (suspension) so on-loan Hungarian centre-back Tamas Vasko will make his first appearance since October 2. Christian Ribeiro will also be in the sixteen. Darren Byfield is also likely to be given a start after coming on from the bench in their last match.
Player to watch: Michael McIndoe
Watch this lad and make sure Trundle doesnt get in on the act
Last Time We Met
We got a well-earned point at Ashton Gate back in September with Clarke Carlisle’s fancy acrobatics securing a point in the dying minutes after Bristol City had wiped out Gray’s openner to lead 2-1. You have to go back to 23rd October 1999 for the last time we entertained Bristol City at Turf Moor. We won 2-0 that day
Surely this time! It will be a hard one to win but we seem to be doing better against the top six clubs. 2-1 Clarets
New Year’s Day and its away to Blackpool on Tuesday 3pm KO