The Clarets have a scheduled game against Stoke City at Turf Moor on Saturday in what is proving to be a dramatic week with the imminent departure of our discredited former manager, Owen Coyle to Bolton via his gardening leave and with snow and ice also bringing Britain to a standstill. There is still some doubt this game will go ahead and we await official confirmation from the club whether the match is on or not. The ground has under soil heating so that is not the problem but there is a safety issue concerning the icy conditions around the ground.
With the Clarets just two points off the drop zone every point is now vital to avoid a return to the Championship and Stoke City are just the sort of club that we need to beat. Stoke until recently have struggled to score and were steadily dropping down the table. They were however buoyed by a 3-2 victory over Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday night and they are now currently 10th four points ahead of the Clarets in 14th spot. Stoke renowned for their own fortress at home now come to ours and they will be hoping to take advantage of a side currently manager-less and hurting over the loss of Coyle. The club have put Chief Coach, Steve Davis in charge of this one assisted by Phil Hughes. We have to show some grit (and if we have any grit left put it on the snow & ice!) and we have to put the Coyle saga behind us. Let`s hope the boys do Steve Davis & the Clarets fans proud. Come on you Clarets.
Predicted Team Sheet
Tyrone Mears and Stephen Jordan both return after a one match suspension. Andre Bikey though will not be available having now joined his Cameroon team mates in Angola for the African Nations Cup. Steven Caldwell is sidelined with a groin injury but Clarke Carlisle could be close to a return after recovering from a similar injury as Caldwell with both limping off the pitch recently in the same match against Wolves at Molineux.
On loan striker, David Nugent will also be available after Portsmouth refused permission for him to be available for our FA Cup clash against MK Dons away last week. His loan period does not end until the 22nd January but there is a worry that Avram Grant could recall him at any moment and refuse Burnley the chance to extend the loan to the end of the season. The dire financial situation at Portsmouth could mean they want to recall Nugent and sell him permanently in the January window to a club that can afford his salary and Burnley are sadly not one of those clubs at the moment.
It will be interesting to see Steve Davis`s team selection and whether it will follow a similar formation and adopt the same tactics to those of Coyle. Steve may have his own thoughts though so I will be looking for any indication of a different approach.
I would predict the following eighteen if Clarke Carlisle is not fit enough to play.
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Edgar, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott, Fletcher, Nugent
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes or Easton, Eckersley, Gudjonsson, Blake, Guerrero, Thompson
Burnley Team News:
Martin Paterson, Jay Rodriguez and Chris McCann are all believed to be close to a return after their long battle with injury so it will be interesting to see if any of those feature on the bench if not the starting eleven.
Tyrone Mears returns from a one match ban after picking up his fifth yellow card in the game against Everton at Goodison Park. Stephen Jordan was also sent off in the same match for a second bookable offence but is also now available after sitting out an automatic one match suspension and missing the FA Cup match against MK Dons at stadium: mk last Saturday along with Mears.
David Nugent also returns after being cup tied against MK Dons following the failure of Portsmouth to give the Clarets permission for him to play in the cup competition.
If Clarke Carlisle`s groin injury has not recovered sufficiently and with Bikey on African Nations Cup duty, there could be an opportunity for David Edgar to start his first Premier League game for the Clarets.
Player to watch: The Whole Team
This will be the first chance for Clarets fans to see what effect the loss of Coyle will have on the team and in particular it will be interesting to see how the players who were Coyle signings perform.
Coyle had his favourites but Flood has assured fans that Bolton will not be allowed to come in for our players during the current transfer window.
Fletcher, Eagles, McDonald and Nugent especially need to be at the top of their game and show they are determined to put the loss of Coyle behind then.
Stoke City Team News:
The biggest doubt could be striker, Tuncay who limped off with a hamstring injury in Stoke`s midweek game at home to Fulham. Ricardo Fuller could play in his place.
Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen is expected to recover from a finger injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Fulham.
Player to watch: Ryan Shawcross
Shawcross, despite being a central defender has a nasty habit of scoring from set-pieces something he demonstrated against the Clarets in the season opener in our 2-0 defeat against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium .The 22 year old former England Under 21 international has never looked back since being discarded by Manchester United and signing for Stoke City in January 2008. He signed for an initial £1 million but with Stoke being promoted and with further appearances taken into account that amount could eventually be doubled.
Back to the Future
We have already mentioned our 2-0 defeat against Stoke City in our first game back in the top flight for 33 years. That opening match of the 2009-10 season back in August seems a long time ago now and we have to hope that ‘Fortress Turf Moor` has better buttresses than the ones Stoke fans are used to at the Britannia. We have not lost at home now in six games but with four consecutive 1-1 draws it is imperative we get our first win since we beat Hull back in October.
Thirty three years ago the last time we were in the top flight, Stoke City finished 12th and enjoyed a double over the Clarets who of course were eventually relegated. They beat us 1-0 at Turf Moor in November 1975 before thumping us 4-1 at Victoria Road in March 1976, Hankin got our solitary goal that day in the 37th minute with the Clarets already 3-0 after just half-an-hour played.
Andre Marriner (Birmingham) will be in charge of this one
Sod it, the Clarets are going to come out fighting and dispel all the doom and gloom around Turf Moor. 3-0 to the Burnley!
It is the big one away to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday 16th January (Kick-Off 3pm). It could be the first match that our new manager will be in charge of, so some baptism of fire that will be! Flood has said he hopes to get a new manager sorted out within the next two weeks and it would be rather amusing if that turned out to be Mike Phelan! If it`s Peter Reid, the current second-in-command at Stoke City will have an extra interest in the Stoke match this Saturday.