Date: 2nd December 2008 at 7:36am
Written by:

On Sky

The Clarets face top Premier League side, Arsenal at Turf Moor for the second time in under a year in a Cup competition tonight hoping to progress to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

If they defeat the Gunners, it will be a remarkable achievement and will mean that this season they will have beaten three Premier League London sides in the Carling Cup competition having already despatched Fulham 1-0 at Turf Moor in the 3rd round followed of course by the sensational victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the 4th round (5-4 on penalties)

This will be a different game though compared to our match against Arsenal in the FA Cup 3rd Round back in January. We played a side that day with some recognisable first team squad players in the team but Arsene Wenger has made it plain that he will keep faith with his young gunners in this season`s Carling Cup competition, not that this will make our task any easier.

We lost the FA Cup game 2-0 on a day when all the talk revolved around former Clarets striker, Kyle Lafferty. Would the story have been different had he scored in the first few minutes? Did he deserve to be sent off? At least that day we did not disgrace ourselves and earned a lot of respect not least from Arsene Wenger and his backroom staff.

Probably as a direct result of that, we were able to loan Arsenal midfielder, Mark Randall last season with Owen Coyle developing good relationships with the London club.

Randall had an indifferent loan spell to be honest and maybe he found the Championship a little too rough for his delicately honed skills. He could be one of the young gunners playing against us tonight and although this might be the Clarets toughest test so far in the competition, it might also be theirs too.

They might not be relishing a trip up north to the cold tundra that is Turf Moor, and maybe our style of play could be as bamboozling for the Arsenal side as it appeared at times to be for Randall playing in Claret & Blue.

It has to be said though that our side compared to January is now totally different as well with depth in quality and with players like Chris Eagles with Premier League experience in the side, the young lads of Arsenal could be in for a shock.

The two last sides to defeat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge meet tonight. What a pub quiz question that will be if we can also knock out the Gunners!

Don`t forget if you are not one of the lucky ones to get a ticket for the match with all tickets now sold you can see the game on Sky Sports 1.

Come on you Clarets

Predicted Team Sheet

The Clarets fans await news of Wade Elliott who has missed the last two games with a groin strain. He will be given a late fitness test.

Steve Thompson is cup tied so will not feature which almost certainly means Martin Paterson will be upfront and probably would have been anyway after scoring a brace in his last two games.

Kalvenes is also still ruled out having not yet recovered from a persistent leg injury.

I suspect Coyle will keep faith with the side that comprehensively defeated Derby County 3-0 on Saturday and even if Elliott is fit enough to play, Coyle might be tempted to keep him on the bench Remember for Carling Cup games we are allowed seven substitutes, so we could be seeing a few young guns ourselves.

I will predict the following and expect we will line up 4-1-4-1 again:

Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, McDonald, McCann, Blake, Eagles, Paterson

Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, Mahon, Elliott, Akinbiyi, Rodriguez, MacDonald (Kay if Elliott not fit)

Van der Schaaf though if fully recovered from his virus infection might make a claim for a place on the bench at the expense of one of our youngsters.

Burnley Team News:

Steve Thompson is cup-tied and Wade Elliott faces a late fitness test for a groin strain. Kalvenes is still sidelined with a leg injury.

Player to watch: Kevin McDonald

This will be a true test for McDonald who was our Star Player against Derby. He has looked confident, sharp and in control recently and for a young attacking midfielder could be our ace card.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsene Wenger will give his youngsters the chance to shine again.

One familiar name though, Mikael Silvestre looks set to be in the starting eleven back four

Jay Simpson, scorer of a brace against Wigan in the last round, could feature again but there is some fans gossip that suggests he could be dropped and replaced by another familiar name in Nicklas Bendtner.

There could also be a chance for 16 years old, Jack Wilshere.

Arsenal are expected to name their side from the following squad:

Fabianski, Hoyte, Coquelin, Silvestre, Gibbs, Wilshere, Randall, Ramsey, Merida, Vela, Bendtner, Mannone, Simpson, Bischoff, Lansbury, Fonte, Frimpong.

Player to watch: Mark Randall

I hope the midfielder gets a chance to play against us. It will be interesting to see how well he performs and whether there has been any improvement. Let`s face it though, the whole team will need watching!

Last Time We Met

Well we have already mentioned this, we lost 2-0 to Arsenal at Turf Moor in the third round of the FA Cup back in January this year with all the talk surrounding former Clarets striker, Kyle Lafferty. He came close to scoring with an header in the first few minutes before being sent off for a debatable foul making 10-men Burnley`s chance of winning even more difficult. We were a credit to the game though and earned a lot of respect from neutrals and Arsenal fans alike.

Ref Watch:

Premier League Referee, Andre Marriner (Birmingham)

Match Prediction:

My head like Chelsea is telling me we won`t get through but I will stick with my heart again and predict a 2-1 victory

Next Match

Sheffield United at Bramall Lane this Saturday (6th December 3pm KO). Should be a cracker with 5th placed Blades playing 4th placed Clarets.