Southampton are the visitors to Turf Moor this Saturday and the club in 21st place will not be relishing playing high-flying Burnley in 4th place.
The Saints have just 22 points from 22 games with the third worst goal difference in the division (minus 13). They face the Clarets currently in great form having not lost a home match since back in August against Ipswich. They currently have 37 points from 22 matches but with Reading in 3rd place stretching their lead in midweek to six points ahead of the Clarets and with the chasing pack all making ground after Burnley`s disappointing midweek draw against Cardiff at home, Owen Coyle will be keen to secure all three points in tomorrow`s game.
Cash strapped Southampton are having a pretty poor season although they have actually been better away from home. However they were thumped 3-0 by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in their last match and their confidence could be low with news that some of their key players (eg midfielder Andrew Surman) could also be leaving in the January window to help the finances.
Three points for the Clarets are probably a must if we are to maintain our bid for Nirvana and let`s face it we have to beat teams like Southampton if we intend to make it this season. The lads looked jaded (lacked spark according to Owen Coyle) in the midweek Cardiff game and there is no room for an under par performance tomorrow.
Come on you Clarets, we need to march on not the Saints!
Predicted Team Sheet
Michael Duff missed the midweek game still suffering from the calf strain that he picked up in the pre-match warm up against Sheffield United last Saturday at Bramall Lane.
Chris McCann has also missed the last two matches through illness. Both players face late fitness tests.
Jay Rodriguez is also understood to be the latest player to suffer from the lurgy doing the rounds at Turf Moor although he has not been selected in the sixteen in recent league games anyway.
I will assume the worst case scenario that both Duff & McCann fail to make it. I just wonder also if Thompson and Paterson could start as a strike pair up front. My prediction, which is more a hope, is as follows on that basis and assumes a 4-4-2 formation:
Jensen. Alexander, Caldwell, Carlisle, Jordan, Elliott, McDonald, Blake, Eagles, Paterson, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Mahon (or Van der Schaaf), Gudjonsson, Akinbiyi, MacDonald
Burnley Team News:
Kalvenes is presumably still sidelined with a leg injury whilst news is awaited on the fitness of Duff (calf strain) and McCann (illness). Jay Rodriguez has also picked up an illness.
Player to watch: Kevin McDonald
Can our attacking midfielder return to his goal scoring ways? Watch this space!
Southampton Team News:
Saints midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin could be available after suffering from an ankle injury.
Olly Lancashire has also picked up a knee injury and could be doubtful.
Jack Cork looks set to replace Alex Pearce in defence.
Anthony Pulis may feature after recovering from a broken foot but Michael Svensson though looks unlikely to play.
Player to watch: Andrew Surman
The highly rated midfielder is understood to be interesting a number of Premier League sides with cash strapped Saints possibly tempted to sell in the January transfer window.
He will be out to impress
Last Time We Met
Southampton have had the knack of beating the Clarets at home in recent games and last season we lost 3-2 at the Turf back in October 2007. Goals by McCann and Akinbiyi were not enough to avoid defeat.
We did however get revenge at St Marys in April earlier this year coming out 1-0 winners thanks to a goal by Caldwell.
Premier League referee, Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent) is in charge
We will be too strong for the Saints and I predict a 3-1 victory
A tricky away game at Bristol City next Saturday (20th December 2008 @ 3pm KO)