Date: 7th December 2008 at 6:47pm
Written by:

This will be a rather unusual Match Preview article as it will be published after the game has been completed and the result known! The Vital network is having some essential maintenance work done over the weekend so the sites have been down including of course Vital Burnley.

We want though to publish the match preview albeit retrospectively for completion and let`s face it we wouldn`t want to deny you a laugh at how much we got our predictions wrong!

The Clarets in 4th place play Sheffield United in 5th place on Saturday 6th December at Bramall Lane in what looks on paper to be a potential cracker.

What a week for the Clarets after comprehensively beating Derby County 3-0 at home last Saturday and then sensationally beating the Young Gunners and earning a semi-final place in the Carling Cup. The 2-0 victory over Wenger`s boys on Tuesday night at Turf Moor can be put into context by realising that our Saturday opponents, Sheffield United were defeated 6-0 by the Arsenal youngsters at the Emirates back in September in the same competition this season.

A victory at Bramall Lane would see the Clarets increase their points tally to 36 and put some clear blue water between them and their Saturday opponents who currently have 32 points. However this will not be an easy game with the Blades having home advantage and most Clarets fans would probably be happy with a point. I know I would!

Sheffield United despite their position have so far failed to defeat the current top three teams so let`s hope they have no luck against the 4th placed team either. Another Burnley victory and Clarets fans really can begin to live the dream, if they haven`t started already. If we do win it will be the first time at Bramall Lane since 1973!

Predicted Team Sheet

Steve Thompson was of course cup-tied on Tuesday night but will be available for selection for the Blades game. I suspect though he might have to be content with the bench with Owen Coyle keeping the same starting eleven that played against Arsenal and Derby wherever possible.

One person that will miss out though is Clarke Carlisle who is suspended after recently picking up his fifth yellow card and this probably means a return to 4-4-2.

Kalvenes (leg injury) and Van der Schaaf (recovering from illness) will probably remain sidelined whether they have recovered or not.

Goal scoring hero, Kevin McDonald picked up a slight knock in the Arsenal game after scoring his brace and was substituted after 61 minutes.

The Clarets will be hoping that the attacking midfielder who now has three goals in two games will be fit to play against the Blades and he is expected to shake off the knock in time to play.

Wade Elliott who has now recovered from the groin strain that kept him out of the Barnsley and Derby games came on as a substitute against Arsenal with 13 minutes to play and it will be interesting to see if Coyle starts the winger or whether he will be named on the bench.

The probable line-up though will be something like this:

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

Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, Mahon, Akinbiyi, Thompson

What We Now Know

Well it was all change after news broke that McCann had not travelled thanks to illness and Duff then picked up an injury in the match warm-up. Wade Elliott moved into the right back position, Jordan partnered Caldwell in the centre with Alexander playing in an unfamiliar left back role.

Gudjonsson replaced McCann and van der Schaaf made it to the bench with Thompson coming on upfront with Paterson in a true 4-4-2

Pity about McCann and Duff, I would have been close with the prediction otherwise.

Sheffield United Team News:

Steve Thompson returns after being cup-tied against Arsenal last Tuesday night.

Clarke Carlisle is suspended for one match following his fifth yellow card.

Kevin McDonald looks likely to shake off the minor knock he picked up against the Gunners.

Christian Kalvenes and Remco van der Schaaf are likely to again miss out after recent injuries and illness.

Player to watch: Stephen Jordan

Jordan has done well this season and not many Clarets fans would have thought he would be a regular choice in the team after his indifferent and howler-prone games of last season.

He does still seem prone to a lack of concentration on occasion but has been relatively solid in recent matches.

I am pleased for the former Manchester City player, so let`s hope he continues the good form by keeping out the Blades attack.

Burnley Team News:

Gary Speed has been suffering from a back problem and will require a late fitness test before Blades gaffer, Kevin Blackwell, can name his starting eleven. Should Speed fail to make the team, Matthew Spring looks set to stand in for him again like he did in the 1-1 draw away to Ipswich in their last game

Player to watch: James Beattie

The former Everton striker, James Beattie, officially signed for Sheffield United in August 2007 in a club record deal worth £4 million, potentially rising to £4.5 million.

Beattie has scored 31 goals in 56 appearances for the Blades including nine goals so far this season in the Championship. He also has a knack of scoring spectacular goals from free kicks as we know to our cost. It will be important that we ensure he has a quiet game.

Last Time We Met

This fixture last season back in November 2007 produced a good point for the Clarets in a goalless draw but sadly we dropped all three points in the return fixture at Turf Moor losing 2-1 in April 2008.

Andrew Cole got our goal in the 80th minute but by then United were 2-0 up after Beattie had scored from a spectacular free kick in the first half and Sharp headed in the second just after the break.

Ref Watch:

Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester)

Match Prediction:

This has a draw written all over it, 1-1 I would suggest!

What We Now Know

Happy to get this one wrong!!

Next Match

Two home games to follow with Cardiff the visitors on Tuesday night (Dec 9th @7:45pm KO) followed by Southampton on Saturday (Dec 13th @3pm KO)