Date: 25th December 2009 at 10:06am
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The Clarets are quickly into action after their Boxing Day clash against Bolton at Turf Moor and travel to Goodison Park to face Everton two days later on the Monday(28th December) bringing to an end our fixtures in 2009. This will be our first re-match of the season having now played all Premier League teams at least once so far season and this will also be our first chance to get a ‘double` having beaten the Toffees 1-0 at Turf Moor back in August.

At the time of writing before the Boxing Day matches, Everton were in the pack struggling to keep relegation at bay along with the Clarets. Burnley currently in 14th spot are just three points from the relegation zone with Everton just one place and one point behind us with a game in hand. Things of course could change drastically once the Boxing Day results are known. Burnley will hopefully have beaten third-from-bottom club, Bolton and begun to advance up the table whilst Everton will be hoping they have beaten Sunderland in their Boxing Day clash at the Stadium of Light.

This once more could be an important six pointer and the pressure will again be on the Clarets to get their first away win of the season although getting anything from this game will be a great achievement. Let`s hope by the time the New Year is upon us we are sitting pretty with 20-25 points on the table.

Predicted Team Sheet

Because of the festive season holiday, I have to write this article without knowing the result of the Boxing Day game and whether we have picked up any injuries and suspensions, (hopefully not!)

I think whatever happens Owen Coyle will be consistent and unless forced to change his eighteen due to injury or suspension will stick with a settled side no matter what the Boxing Day result might be.

Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell both suffering from groin problems at the moment after limping off in the Wolves match at Molineux are likely to be close to a return for the Everton clash and may even have played against Bolton. Martin Paterson (torn cartilage) and Jay Rodriguez (broken ankle) are also understood to be close to a return after their long-term injuries.

If there are injuries in the centre ofl defence another interesting debate is whether David Edgar could now be in the reckoning. The club this week finally agreed compensation terms with Newcastle United.

The predicted team sheet for this match is a bit of a lottery so instead what I will do is assume there are no injuries or suspensions and select the team I would like to see face Everton so here goes:

Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Duff, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott, Fletcher, Nugent

Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Edgar, Blake, Bikey, Gudjonsson, Guerrero or Thompson

Yes, I know pretty radical and about as much chance of happening as Rossendale United being in the Premier League but let me explain my reasons

1. We need something new away from home and we always seem to have done better recently when we have played with two up front so let`s start Nugent and Fletcher together and see what happens.

2. Andre Bikey will soon be off to Angola for the African Nations Cup so let`s get used to playing without him. He has not exactly been firing on all cylinders recently either.

3. Steven Caldwell may well be the captain but he has made far too many costly blunders in defence recently and I think he should be rested whether injured or not. Duff is usually pretty good in the centre of defence and perhaps someday we will see Edgar make his Premier League debut for the Clarets. A place on the bench might be a good way of giving him the opportunity to come on and slot in. He is after all one of the few players we have with previous premier league experience.

4. If the more attacking 4-4-2 leads to a goal we might then need to tighten up the defence and try and grind out a result. This should be possible with nine possible defenders in the eighteen

Everton Team News:

The Toffees injury list is as long as my arm and has been a crucial factor this season in Everton`s lower than expected position. They are missing key players such as midfielder, Mikel Arteta who was stretchered off with a knee ligament injury against Newcastle last season. He has yet to play this season but is expected to make a return about February. Another key player out is Phil Jagielka. The 27 year old defender & midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament last April in a game against Manchester City although was expected to return soon in the early New Year if not before.

Phil Neville is also believed to be close to a return after a knee injury and could feature against the Clarets. Jo is doubtful for their Boxing Day game against Sunderland suffering from a knee injury as are Distin and Gosling both suffering from hamstring problems so we wait to see if they will be fit for our game.

The injury list though is not finished yet. Anichebe (knee), Osman (foot), and Yobo (hamstring) are also struggling and their latest casualty is midfielder, Jack Rodwell. He picked up a hamstring injury in Everton`s recent 1-0 defeat at home against BATE Borisov in the Europa League and he is now sidelined for a month.

Player to watch: Louis Saha

Saha is Everton`s leading goal scorer with 10 league goals to his name this season already. The 31 year old former Manchester United striker will need to be kept in check if we are to get anything from this game.

Burnley Team News:

Both Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell both suffering from groin injuries ahead of the Boxing Day clash against Bolton could be available for the trip to Goodison Park.

We shall have to hope that we come through the Bolton game unscathed with no suspensions or further injuries or to worry about.

It will be interesting to see if Coyle will be tempted to include Martin Paterson or Jay Rodriguez in the eighteen for either of our last two games of 2009. Both are understood to be close to a return after their long-term injuries.

Player to watch: David Nugent

Well I very much hope he starts a match for a change but even if he is on the bench there is a high chance he will feature at some point in the game. The on-loan striker has come on from the bench in eight of the last nine league games and that would have probably been a full house had he been eligible to play against his parent club, Portsmouth.

Nugent is badly in need of a goal though with some Clarets fans already being critical about the former Bury and Preston striker. He had that stunning game at home to Sunderland when he scored a brace of goals after coming on from the bench back in September but since then his powder keg had been dry. I think is it time we see him play a full 90 minutes again before we start passing judgement on the player.

Owen Coyle is on record of course of saying that Nugent is his kind of player and that he would dearly like to sign him permanently in the January transfer window soon to be upon us. Let`s hope bearing in mind Pompey`s financial problems that Avram Grant is kind to us and will let Coyle sign him for a reasonable price.

Back to the Future

We have covered our games against Everton the last time we were in the top flight in 1975-76 in great detail previously and you might recall in our relegation season we actually got a rare win on the road over the Toffees at Goodison Park beating them 3-2 in January 1976. Noble, Flynn and Scott got our goals that day! In the earlier encounter at Turf Moor in our second game of the season back in August 1975 we drew 1-1 with Everton equalising on 60 minutes cancelling out Ray Hankin`s goal five minutes earlier.

If you want to read more about these games you can go to our ‘Back to the Future` series of articles and read ‘Back to the Future 2-Sticky Toffee Puddings`

Here is the direct link:

Back to the Future 2-Sticky Toffee Puddings LINK

The last time we played Everton of course was earlier this year at Turf Moor in our second home game of the season. Buoyed by our previous home victory against Champions, Manchester United we made it 1-0 twice in a row by beating the Toffees thanks to a Wade Elliott goal. The game will also be remembered for a Saha penalty which he kindly missed!

Ref Watch:

It`s the tall imposing figure of Howard Webb in charge of this one. The Rotherham-based referee is well-respected and was last in charge of a game involving the Clarets when we played Aston Villa at Turf Moor last month

Match Prediction:

I very much hope we will have secured three points against Bolton on Boxing Day and will be going into the Everton clash with our spirits raised and confidence high having broken through the 20 points barrier. Under those circumstances I will be very happy with a point and predict the score will be 1-1.

A win would be a great bonus though and relieve some of the pressure on Fortress Turf Moor

Next Match

It`s FA Cup time and we face a trip to Milton Keynes to play MK Dons at the stadium: mk on Saturday 2nd January (3pm Kick-Off)

We then return to our Premier League campaign with a match against Stoke City at Turf Moor on Saturday 9th January (3pm Kick-Off)