The Clarets start their home campaign for the first time in the Premier League this Wednesday night (19th August) and what a baptism of fire at Turf Moor that is!
Our opponents are only the Premier League Champions of 3 seasons running, Manchester United.
The night will certainly be atmospheric with a capacity crowd expected. Turf Moor will have to become like the Britannia Stadium. That’s where most of our points will hopefully come from this season and we need to turn the place into a fortress and unsettle visiting teams if we are to stand any chance of survival.
Our small intimidating ground could be our saviour although whether we could use that to our advanatge against the Top Four remains to be seen.
Stoke City certainly survived in the top flight last season adopting the same technique as the Clarets found out to their cost in our openner at the Britannia last Saturday. The Clarets although going down 2-0 did not play that badly and hopefully we can improve especially if we tighten up the defence and avoid making clangers from set pieces!
The last time we played Manchester United in a league match was back in the 1975-6 season (see Back to the Future) and our 1-0 defeat that night at home sent the club down, never to return to the top flight for another 33 years.
How fitting that our first home game back is against the Red Devils.
Payback time? Well we can only hope & pray
Predicted Team Sheet
Andre Bikey has been signed from Reading this week in time to play against United and I suspect Coyle will name him in the starting eleven partnering Clarke Carlisle in the centre of the back four. David Edgar is also available after returning from a one-match suspension but he is likely to be named on the bench.
Coyle has already said that Steven Caldwell (thigh) and Michael Duff (ankle) are unlikely to be fit in time to play in this match.
I personally think we should also start the two former Manchester United players, Richard Eckersley and Chris Eagles. Both players will be up for this one and keen to impress. However Tyrone Mears was our star player against Stoke and it would be hard to drop the right back so Eckersley may have to be content with a place on the bench.
Owen Coyle might also be tempted to start the exciting young prospect, Fernando Guerrero. With Manchester United’s injury problems in defence, this could be the ideal opportunity for the 19 year old Ecuador International to shine against the top club in the land!
Although I don’t necessarily think this is how Coyle will select them, I would like to see the following line-up:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Kalvenes, Alexander, Eagles, McCann, Elliott, Fletcher, Paterson.
Subs: Penny, Eckersley, Edgar, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Blake, Thompson (or Rodriguez)
Burnley Team News:
New signing Andre Bikey looks likely to make his debut for the Clarets with both Caldwell and Duff out injured. David Edgar missed the opening game against Stoke at the Britannia due to a one match suspension after picking up two yellows in the last match for Newcastle in 2008/9. He is now available for selection against United but may have to be content with a place on the bench.
Player to watch: Andre Bikey
All eyes will be on our new controversial centre half. Let’s hope the strong, powerful defender can keep out the likes of Rooney & Co without throwing any tantrums!
Manchester United Team News:
Manchester United seem keen to give us a chance having a load of injury problems in defence.
England defender Rio Ferdinand will miss the match following a scan on his injured thigh.
His defensive teammate Nemanja Vidic (calf) is also out of the visit while reserve defender Jonny Evans limped off after 74 minutes against Birmingham with a groin injury.
Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar (broken hand), Gary Neville (groin) and Rafael da Silva (shoulder) are also sidelined.
Wes Brown looks set to return and partner John O’Shea in central defence.
Michael Carrick and Anderson are set to make their first appearances of the season, while Michael Owen could be included after being introduced as a substitute in Sunday’s less than convincing 1-0 win over Birmingham.
Player to watch: All of them!
How can you single one player out? It will just be great to see so many big names at the Turf and even better if ‘ickle old Burnley manage to turn them over!
Back to the Future
In the 1975/76 season we were relegated and the team that sent us down was Manchester United at Turf Moor on one Monday night in April 1976.The match was our penultimate game of the season with just Coventry City to play at home and realistically we needed two points to stand any chance of staying up.(You only got two points for a win back then).On the night we played them Manchester United were flying high in third place in the League and that’s where they would finish behind second placed QPR and Champions, Liverpool.Burnley on the other hand were languishing second from bottom and would stay there being relegated rather co-incidentally along with Wolves and Sheffield United with Birmingham just surviving 4th from bottom.Birmingham and Wolves of course were promoted along with Burnley last season and we all know what happened to the Blades at Wembley! Although my mind is hazy about that fateful game played on the night of 19th April 1976, I remember we played well and did not deserve to lose against United. It was Lou Macari who broke the Clarets hearts that night scoring a goal to give United a 1-0 victory and condemn Burnley to Division 2 football. Little did we know that day, it would take another 33 sodding years to get back to where we belonged!I dug out the old programme to look for clues and reminders and it made interesting reading.Back then the match day magazine was still called a programme although we did name it ‘Claret&Blue News & Views’ that season. By the way it only cost 15p!!The Clarets were managed by Joe Brown and United by the infamous, Tommy Docherty. The United side had a number of big names in their squad including Alex Stepney in goal, Brian Greenoff, Martin Buchan, Steve Coppell, Sammy McIlroy, Stuart Pearson, Gordon Hill and Lou Macari.We lined up as follows:Peyton, Scott, Newton, Noble, Thomson, Rodaway, Morris, Flynn, Hankin, Fletcher, Summerbee Sub:Ingham
Staffordshire referee Phil Dowd will be in charge.
You know what my heart has always ruled my head and with United’s defensive problems we might just shade this in front of a Turf Moor cauldron. They did not look that impressive against fellow promoted club Birmingham at Old Trafford over the weekend and now is probably the best time to play them.
2-1 Clarets! I must be mad!!
The second match of our consecutive sequence of games against the Top 5 Premeier League sides of last season continues with the visit of Everton to Turf Moor on Sunday 23rd August (Kick-off 3pm)