The Clarets will be hoping to get another three points in the bag at Fortress Turf Moor this Saturday thus keeping their 100% home record in the Premier League alive following earlier wins against Manchester United and Everton this season. The visitors are Sunderland and we will need to be on guard against the Black Cats who have started well. Steve Bruce`s side are currently 7th in the table on 9 points, three points more than the Clarets in 12th. After playing four consecutive games against sides that finished in the Top 5 of the Premier League last season we will need to ensure we don`t underestimate the Black Cats and it will be vitally important to get something from this game after crushing defeats away to Chelsea and Liverpool. We have six points we thought we wouldn`t have at this stage but we would be expected to pick up points in games like this one against Sunderland and we have to hope that the intimidating atmosphere these days at Turf Moor will be enough to help the lads to victory. Clarets fans are reminded this match is the early game televised by Sky Sports with the game kicking off at 12:45pm.
Predicted Team Sheet
Steven Caldwell appears to be our only injury concern after picking up a groin strain in Scotland`s World Cup Qualifying match against Norway in Oslo a few days before our Premier League season kicked off. He has yet to feature in a game in the top flight this season and remains doubtful for Saturday against Sunderland although it is understood he returned to light training in midweek.
Michael Duff has also fully recovered from his ankle injury and he is now chomping at the bit for a return to the side but is unlikely to be considered at the moment with Bikey and Carlisle rock-like in centre defence and Mears playing consistently well at right back. The most he can hope for is a place on the bench.
Owen Coyle may well have a dilemma up front with Paterson, Nugent, Fletcher, Thompson, Blake and Rodriguez all available and in contention. New loan, David Nugent made his League debut for the Clarets against Liverpool last week after coming on as a substitute in the second-half but had little chance to shine in a match completely dominated by the Reds. Martin Paterson looks the most vulnerable to losing his place at the moment and has yet to score this season for the Clarets. He had a few half-chances on Saturday against Liverpool with shots on goal from any of our players few and far between all afternoon. Who plays and who doesn`t up front could be decided by the formation we play and whether we have one or two players up front. Fletcher seems to have been wasted playing the wider role and I would like to see him more in the centre supported by either Pato or Nuge. If we are to keep faith with Paterson, I think he plays better with a taller guy up front with him so he can feed off the headers and passes whilst our midfield also then have a better target man.
Chris Eagles and Fernando Guerrero are two other players who might be in contention for a starting eleven place after coming on from the bench and putting in decent performances
It is difficult to predict which team Owen Coyle will put out. We have been comprehensively beaten in our last two games with questions being asked in particular about our defence and midfield but then those teams we faced were Chelsea and Liverpool and Coyle may feel more comfortable fielding the same eighteen against a lower quality side (no disrespect to Sunderland intended).
I think Coyle will once more keep the same starting eleven for the fifth consecutive game and since the first four were against United, Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool, this could be a better test for them against Sunderland and help Coyle decide whether this is the right team to select based on current form and confidence. He might though just be tempted to start Nugent but we shall see.
Anyway let`s go for the following in 4-1-4-1:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Fletcher, Paterson
Subs from: Penny, Kalvenes, Duff, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Eagles, Guerrero, Nugent, Thompson
Burnley Team News:
Steven Caldwell (Groin) is the only injury doubt and nobody is suspended. Michael Duff is available again after fully recovering from his ankle injury.
Player to watch: Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher has yet to score in the Premier League this season although of course he did bag a brace against Hartlepool in the Carling Cup 2nd round match at Victoria Park. A goal tomorrow will do wonders for his confidence. Just hope he gets his chance in a more central position. He has looked ineffective in recent games when playing a wider role.
Sunderland Team News:
Midfielder, Lee Cattermole has picked up a heel injury and is facing a race to be fit for Saturday.
Trinidad & Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones only arrived back from the Caribbean on the eve of their last game against Hull so Bruce decided to give England Under-21 striker, Fraizer Campbell his first Premier League start for the Black Cats. The dilemma for Steve Bruce is that Campbell had a good game linking well with Darren Bent so it will be interesting to see who he selects in his starting eleven against Burnley.
Another position up for grabs is left back. Kieran Richardson deputised for George McCartney in that position against Hull. McCartney had picked up a hamstring injury and although back in training, Bruce doesn`t sound willing to risk him. Paulo Da Silva, would be another alternative in that position.
Player to watch: Darren Bent
Darren Bent took his tally to four goals in five games this season after bagging a brace in Sunderland`s last game against Hull at home; a match they won 4-1. He will be the main threat and the Clarets will have their work cut out keeping him at bay along with his strike partner Kenwyne Jones.
Back to the Future
The last time the Clarets were in the top flight (Division 1) back in the 1975-76 season, Sunderland were in Division 2 and about to be crowned Champions at the end of that season. As the Black Cats were promoted, Burnley were relegated but Sunderland`s fortune was not to last and they found themselves back in the second division at the end of 1976-77 after finishing third from bottom.
Our record against Sunderland since then has not been a good one.
We have played them sixteen times since 1977 in various cup competitions and lower league battles and have only won once although we have drawn 7 of those games despite losing 8.
The last time we played them was in their Championship promotion season of 2006/7. At Turf Moor on Saturday 16th December 2006, two goals by Lafferty after 9 and 52 minutes looked to be enough to secure victory until Sunderland scored twice in the last ten minutes to earn a 2-2 draw. It seemed as though throwing away that game affected performance for most of the remaining season and we continued a bad run of form that led to nineteen games without a win before we finally broke the bad spell with a thumping 4-0 victory over Plymouth in April 2007. That win boosted confidence and we won five of the next six league games ensuring Steve Cotterill`s side survived another season in the Championship. In the penultimate game of the season we travelled to Sunderland in high spirits and in front of the cameras nearly came away with three points. Although going one goal behind after 14 minutes, a penalty by Gray after 39 minutes and a stunning goal by Elliott from distance to make it 2-1 gave Clarets fans hope. It wasn`t to be though and the Black Cats came back strongly converting a penalty of their own after 54 minutes and then securing victory 3-2 with a goal after 80 minutes.
Chris Foy (St Helens)
It seems ages ago since we last had a game at Turf Moor with the International Break and two away games at Chelsea and Liverpool on either side of it but now we are back on home soil. This will not be easy though and we need to ensure we can snuff out the dual strike threat from Bent and Kenwyne Jones. I am hoping the atmosphere at Turf Moor will be our extra man and we can sneak this game 2-1.
Carling Cup night this Tuesday (22nd Sept) and the Clarets travel to Oakwell to face Barnsley in this third round tie. A chance to keep Andy Gray at bay!!
The next League game is another difficult away trip as we return to London for a game at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday 26th September (3pm Kick Off). Spurs are currently 4th and were flying until United spoilt their party recently by beating them 3-1 at home.