The start of the 2011-12 season has been some time coming but at long last on Saturday we get the new campaign underway with a home game against Watford.
The Clarets fans seem to be divided strongly into one of two camps ahead of the new season and it seems to revolve around the signings (or lack of them) in the summer and the ones we have lost. Will we miss Jack Cork, Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears? Will we need more squad depth after losing eight players in the summer and bringing in just three new players? (Four with third-string keeper, Jon Stewart). Well, we have our first chance to see how well we might fair on Saturday against a side not predicted to do very much this season. The Hornets are the visitors.
It has certainly been a torrid pre-season for Watford. Their manager, Malky MacKay left to join Cardiff City in June with Sean Dyche taking over their reins. In the same month, their top goal scorer from last season, Danny Graham upped sticks to sign for newly promoted Premier League Swansea. They have though been active in the summer transfer window with six new signings including of course former Burnley striker, Chris Iwelumo. Their pre-season campaign though has been less than impressive managing just one win against non-league Wealdstone. They lost 1-0 away to League 1 Colchester in their last friendly. The Hornets will be hoping to improve on 14th place from last season but most pundits seem to think they will struggle.
Burnley Team News:
There is currently no news of any injuries following our last pre-season friendly at home to Sunderland last Saturday and Howe would appear to have his whole squad to choose from (accepting the players out on loan). The squad was supplemented this week with the arrival of winger, Keith Treacy from Preston and we also signed third-string keeper, Jon Stewart on a one year contract following a successful trial in pre-season. Who knows there could even be some more signings before we kick off the 2011-12 season so watch this space!
Player to watch: Keith Treacy
All eyes will be on Keith Treacy, our new winger and our first permanent signing of the summer .The 22 year old former Blackburn player arrived from Preston in midweek and is widely tipped to replace Chris Eagles.
Watford Team News:
Chris Iwelumo is expected to fully recover from his minor hamstring tweak by Saturday and looks set to play against his former club. Watford appear to have strengthened their left side bringing in left back Carl Dickinson from Stoke and left midfielder, Craig Forsyth from Dundee.
Player to watch: Chris Iwelumo
Iwelumo returns to Turf Moor already after being sold to Watford in the summer and will hoping to score against his old club! The striker was injured after picking up a hamstring tweak in their pre-season friendly against AFC Wimbledon recently being rested for their next two games. However it sounds like this was just a precaution and that the injury was a minor, niggly one.
Team & Tactics
It is certainly difficult to predict the starting eleven and subs bench for this one! Not many clues were evident from the last game against Sunderland and with both Pato and Austin looking subdued up front our attack will certainly be an interesting choice. I suspect we will play 4-4-2 in some shape or form; it is just a question of who will partner Jay Rodriquez up front. We can only name five subs now on the bench as well.
This would be my selection:
Jensen, Trippier, Amougou, Mee, Fox, Elliott, McCann, Marney, Treacy, Paterson, Rodriguez
Subs: Grant, Duff, Edgar, Bartley, Austin
Mark Brown (East Yorkshire) is our first referee of the season in charge
Well we have to be positive don`t we for the first match of the new season and a home game at that!? Watford do not appear to anybody`s bet for any huge success this season with some suggesting they could even be relegated. Burnley on the other hand look doomed to mid-table mediocrity if you believe the pundits so we certainly have a lot to prove for a squad lower in numbers than last season and without the quality of players like Tyrone Mears, Chris Eagles and in particular Jack Cork.
What the hell 2-1 Clarets! Iwelumo for them no doubt if he plays!!
We turn our attentions to the Carling Cup on Tuesday night (9th August Kick-Off 7:45 pm) with our first round tie at home to Burton Albion before travelling to Selhurst Park on Saturday 13th August for our first away game of the season against Crystal Palace (Kick-Off: 3pm)