The Clarets travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday hoping to get back on track against Sunderland following the disappointing home defeat to Crystal Palace in their last league match.
Well it`s now 1-1 following two of the four consecutive league games against clubs struggling along with Burnley to avoid the drop come the end of the season. A promising start and a 2-1 win over QPR at Turf Moor was then spoilt when Crystal Palace came to Turf Moor and despite being 2-0 down finished up coming back to secure all three vital points in a 3-2 victory. It was hugely disappointing but at least none of the other clubs just above and below Burnley could take advantage that weekend. The Clarets remain just outside the drop zone fourth from bottom with 20 points from 22 games. Sunderland are only ahead of Burnley by a goal difference of one and they are the next team we play this Saturday at the Stadium of Light in what must surely be the most crucial game of the season so far for both teams.
The Black Cats under Gus Poyet will be desperate to secure all three points but if Burnley can get anything from this game it will be a huge boost and could restore a lot of confidence considering we have now lost two games on the bounce despite being 2-0 up (Spurs in the FA Cup replay being the other game). Sunderland`s form though has been less than impressive and as well as being unable to beat Championship side Fulham at home in the FA Cup clash in their last game have only managed one win and one draw in the league losing four matches, two of them at home.
Sunderland Team News:
The Black Cats will be hoping that both midfielder Adam Johnson and defender Wes Brown will be fit enough to face the Clarets. Both missed the recent FA Cup game at home to Fulham which finished 0-0 last weekend. Jack Rodwell was also sent off against the Cottagers after picking up a second yellow so will now automatically miss the clash against the Clarets. Midfielder, Lee Cattermole will also undergo a late fitness test. Anthony Reveillere may also play a part. The defender is reportedly close to full fitness.
Player to watch: Jermain Defoe
England international striker Jermain Defoe completed his move from Toronto FC to Sunderland earlier this month after signing a three-and-a-half-year deal with the club. He made his Black Cats debut against his former club Spurs at White Hart Lane a day later but failed to get on the score sheet following a 2-1 defeat. The 32 year old also failed to score in the 0-0 draw against Fulham in the FA Cup so Burnley will be hoping they can make that three goalless games on the trot for Defoe!
Burnley Team News:
Sean Dyche looks likely to name an unchanged Burnley team for the ninth successive league match and has no new fresh injury or suspension worries. Kevin Long is out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury whilst Stephen Ward (ankle) and Matty Taylor (Achilles) continue their recovery but remain sidelined. Lukas Jutkiewicz has also been struggling with a foot injury which explains his absence in the squad in recent games failing to even make the eighteen. He could be back on the bench this Saturday.
Player to watch: Danny Ings
There has been speculation galore this week about Premier League clubs trying to poach Danny Ings before the transfer window deadline on Monday, 2 February at 11 pm. Spurs continue to be linked and Liverpool now appear to have entered the fray with reports that they could buy the player and let him play for the Clarets on loan until the end of the season. Sunderland too have also been linked in the recent past so let`s make sure we show them what they are missing! Danny Ings getting a goal or two would be ideal!
Team & Tactics:
It looks like the same starting eleven for Sean Dyche again having already named the same side to start for eight consecutive games now in the league. The only question appears to be who will be named on the bench. The line-up then will most probably be as follows:
Heaton, Trippier, Shackell , Keane, Mee, Arfield, Marney, Jones, Boyd, Ings, Barnes
Subs from: Gilks, Reid, Duff, Lafferty, Kightly, Wallace, Jutkiewicz, Sordell, Vokes
Bolton referee, Lee Mason gets this one! His last match involving the Clarets was our 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn back in December 2012. Just two players were booked that day. In his 18 games so far this season, 5 players have been sent off whilst another 57 have picked up yellow cards.
This is such an important game for both clubs and one that could ultimately decide whether the Clarets avoid the drop or not. I would be happy with a point although if we could win what a confidence boost that would be ahead of the West Brom game at home on Sunday a week later. Here`s hoping and praying we can shade it 2-1!!
The last of four consecutive league games against clubs struggling to avoid the drop is up next. West Brom are the visitors to Turf Moor on Sunday 8th February in a Sky Sports Live televised game which kicks off early at 12 noon.