It`s the last game of the season against Ipswich Town at Turf Moor this Saturday and both teams are just playing for pride with nothing really at stake.
It has not been a great season, disappointing in fact from the hopes of reaching the play-offs earlier in the year to only last week staving off the threat of relegation at Molineux with a 2-1 win against Wolves. We now look set to finish in our traditional mid-table position but if we win at home against Ipswich this Saturday at Turf Moor in our last game of the season we could secure a top ten finish and a victory would also ensure we would earn the bragging rights over Blackburn Rovers and finish above them. Rovers on 57 points in 17th spot are just one point behind the Clarets in 14th so in order to finish the season above them only a win would guarantee success. Anything else would depend on the result of Rovers last game away to Birmingham on Saturday .That would be something then at least to fight for although to be honest the result does not really matter other than playing for pride. The same applies to Ipswich who in 11th spot are safe, can`t reach the play-offs and on 60 points have just two more than Burnley. It is slightly ironic that we virtually condemned Mick McCarthy`s former club, Wolves to relegation last week and now face the manager`s new club, Ipswich! Under his tenure, Ipswich have improved significantly. When McCarthy took over from Paul Jewell back in November, Ipswich were bottom of the Championship having gone 12 games without a win.
Burnley Team News:
It is probably just as well there is no longer any threat of relegation otherwise we would have had a bit of a crisis in the centre of defence. Michael Duff is suspended after being shown a red card last week for a second bookable offence. Ben Mee who can play in that role still looks to be sidelined with a troublesome hamstring strain and Kevin Long too is injured. He pulled up in the pre-match warm up against Wolves at Molineux last Saturday with a groin strain and remains a doubt.. David Edgar, I hear you shout?? He has been given leave and has returned to Canada for the birth of his child so in effect other than Jason Shackell, there is no recognized senior centre back to partner him unless some of the aforementioned injured recover in time! Unless we play 3-5-2 with perhaps Stock playing a more defensive midfield role or maybe even in the back four, Sean Dyche may have to draft in one of the young guns and indeed he has indicated this week he might be tempted to blood some of the fringe players anyway. Tom Anderson could be the defender of choice from the development squad. Chris McCann has also played in the back four although not recently and Luke O`Neill too, normally a right back is thought capable of playing in central defence and indeed he played in the heart of defence in the 2-1 development squad defeat to Sunderland this week perhaps suggesting Dyche is considering him for Saturday. Other than the back four headache, the only other injured player of course is Charlie Austin and we already know he won`t be available following his recent appendix operation.
Player to watch: Lee Grant
The keeper picked up most of the supporters` player of the year awards this week and has virtually gone from zero to hero in a season after putting in some breathtaking performances between the sticks. His contract is up for renewal in the summer along with Brian Jensen so it will be interesting to see come August who will be our first and second choice keepers.
Ipswich Town Team News:
It looks like Mick McCarthy too could be about to experiment now Ipswich are safe from the relegation threat with have no chance of reaching the play-offs. Talking about Saturday`s clash, McCarthy said on the Ipswich Official Club website:
We want to win the game, of course, but it gives me a chance to have a look at a few players,
“There will certainly be a few changes from our point of view and I think Burnley may do the same.
“There are a few players that I haven`t had much of a look at in a match-situation, such as Tyrone Mings, Pat Kisnorbo and even young Elliott Hewitt” The Blues have virtually their whole squad available with the exception of Paul Taylor (recovering from foot surgery ) and Josh Carson (broken toe) who are still not fit. McCarthy concluded :
“There will be no changes in formation in terms of 4-4-2, but there will some differences in the team. I will make some changes.”
Player to watch: Carlos Edwards
The Ipswich captain is now 34 and seems to have been around for ages! The winger who can also play at right back joined Ipswich in September 2009 from Sunderland along with Grant Leadbitter for a combined fee of £4.5 million. The Trinidad and Tobago international has since made over 160 appearances for the club. Last season he was voted the players’ player of the year.
Team & Tactics:
With nothing at stake, Sean Dyche may well experiment with his team and tactics and blood some of the young guns. His problem in the centre of defence with potentially no recognised senior centre back to partner Jason Shackell may well force his hand (See above Burnley Team News). Clarets fans might be a bit miffed if he makes too many changes since the bragging rights over Rovers are at stake. If wingers are back in vogue I would go with something like this in 4-4-2 formation :
Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Anderson (or Long if fit), Lafferty, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Stanislas, Ings, Vokes
Subs: Jensen, O`Neill, Stock, Bartley, Paterson, A Couple of Young Guns
If Dyche prefers to play with three up front and ditch the wingers then Ings and Paterson playing slightly wide of Vokes looks the best option.
Hertfordshire referee, Mick Russell will be in charge of our last league game of the season. The last time he refereed a game involving the Clarets was our away clash at Derby just over two years ago when we convincingly beat the Rams 4-2. Chris Eagles got a brace that day and another former fans favourite, Wade Elliott got another with Chris McCann in his first game back after injury also getting on the score sheet. In his 45 games so far this season Russell has sent off just 4 players and shown 95 yellow cards.
Let`s just do the business and finish above Rovers! 2-1 Clarets
That`s it folks for another season! We will be back of course in 2013-14 with a full Match Preview service and we will also provide shorter previews of all our pre-season friendlies.