It is once more time for the biggest mismatch of a game in the Premier League to take place. Yes, Manchester City, one of the richest clubs in the footballing world take on ‘ickle Burnley at Turf Moor this Saturday. If money buys success there is nothing more that contrasts it better than this game. Just one of their strikers, Roque Santa Cruz cost City a cool £17 million when they signed him from Blackburn, That figure according to the Official Site is actually more than the whole of our players budget for this season! To add insult to injury, Santa Cruz was only on the bench in their last game
So against all the odds could we vex Manchester City and spoil their chances of Champions League qualification? It is a tall order considering our precarious position second from bottom fighting a relegation battle and yet somehow we have to pull out all the stops if we are to have any hope of surviving the drop from the top flight at our first attempt in 33 years.
We simply have to take heart from the earlier encounter against Manchester City at Eastlands back in November. That 3-3 draw has been our only point on the road all season but it did at least show that money does not always guarantee victory. Granted things have changed since then with Roberto Mancini coming in to replace the unfortunate Sparky and of course we are not exactly playing encouraging football at the moment but I guess we just have to hope for that Jimmy Greaves moment again and prove conclusively that ‘Footy is a Funny Owd Game`. Up the Clarets!
Predicted Team Sheet
Our skipper, Steven Caldwell came through a Reserves game in midweek and declared himself fit to play against Manchester City after recovering from a persistent groin and abdominal injury that had kept him sidelined for most of the season. This could be a game too early for Caldwell though and Laws might prefer to stay with Michael Duff and Leon Cort in the centre of defence with Clarke Carlisle also chomping at the bit for a return to the starting eleven. I expect we will see either Carlisle or Caldwell on the bench.
Stephen Jordan picked up a knee injury in the derby against Rovers last Sunday and was replaced by Danny Fox just before half-time. Jordan will be hoping to shake off the injury and play against his former club but again Laws might take the view not to risk him and play Fox at left-back.
The side by common consent looked nervous and lacked sparkle and passion against Rovers last Sunday so it is difficult to know whether Laws will again stick with the same starting eleven for the third game running. A few of the tactics did not seem to work, Martin Paterson is not a winger and he looks wasted out there at the moment. Nugent too played a wider role and perhaps there is a case for playing two strikers up front supported by Elliott and Eagles on the flanks. It is difficult to know which striker to drop but at the moment Fletcher has looked the least effective since returning to the side after breaking a bone in his hand. I would like to see the following line-up in 4-4-2 formation:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Elliott, McDonald, Eagles, Paterson, Nugent
Subs: Weaver, Jordan, Caldwell or Carlisle, Cork, Blake, Fletcher, Thompson
Burnley Team News:
Chris McCann looks set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a slightly torn cartilage. A knee injury had kept him sidelined since the Bolton game at the Reebok back in January and only after exploratory surgery yesterday was the problem diagnosed. The injury is not serious and the torn cartilage was repaired but it could still take up to six weeks to fully recover.
Caldwell though could return after recovering from a persistent groin strain and playing in a midweek reserves game.
Stephen Jordan also looks to be available after recovering from a knee injury picked up in the Rovers derby
Player to watch: Michael Duff
Duff has been outstanding since returning to the centre of defence and has effectively been Man of the Match in our last two games. He must surely keep his place and do all he can to help snuff out Tevez, Adebayor and the rest of City`s powerful attack
Manchester City Team News:
Argentinian utility man Pablo Zabaleta picked up his 10th booking of the season in City’s 3-0 win against Wigan last Monday and must now serve an automatic two-match suspension. Nigel de Yong could be rested since he too is close to picking up a 10th booking.
It is thought that Micah Richards will deputise for Zabaleta in the game at Turf Moor.
Roberto Mancini will also be without midfielder, Stephen Ireland who is still suffering with an ankle injury.
Gareth Barry is expected to return to the starting eleven.
Wayne Bridge (groin), M. Johnson & Petrov (both knee) and Joleon Lescott (hamstring) are also still sidelined.
Player to watch: Carlos Tevez
You could pick anybody but let`s say Tevez!
There is no doubt that Tevez is in hot form. The 26 year old Argentinean international already has 25 goals to his name this season (19 in the League) and in fact has averaged one goal per match in the last 16 games since Christmas. It would also appear vital that we prevent him scoring since City have not lost a game yet when Tevez has been on the score sheet in a Premier League fixture. It all looks rather ominous since Tevez also managed a hat-trick in the 3-0 defeat of Wigan last Monday!
Back to the Future
The Clarets last beat Manchester City in October 1974 securing a 2-1 victory at Turf Moor. Paul Fletcher scored a goal after just 14 minutes but City levelled from a penalty six minutes before half-time. Our winner was down to an own goal after Clarke scored at the wrong end on the hour mark. Sadly we lost 2-0 to them at Maine Road in the return fixture in the penultimate game of that season. Burnley finished 10th that season just one point and two places behind City. How times have changed!
The season after (1975-76) was a disaster for the Clarets and of course we were relegated after finishing second from bottom, never to return to the top flight for another long, arduous 33 years! 33 years of course that would see us drop to the very basement of the football league and almost lose our league existence completely. The Orient game and what followed is quite a remarkable journey but now we have to try and avoid relegation from the top flight again so let`s hope if we don`t succeed we won`t have to wait another 33 years again to play in the most prestigious league in Europe because I probably won`t be around to see it.
In 1975-76, Manchester City finished in 8th spot but both times they played us that season they could not score. The trouble was neither could we and both games finished 0-0!
Manchester City have won five of their last six meetings with Burnley in all competitions with one a draw.
The last time we played Manchester City was of course earlier this season and it turned out to be one of the few pleasures on the road this season for Clarets fans. Despite the talent and money on show in the Manchester City team, the Clarets found themselves 2-0 up within 32 minutes of play. Alexander scored from the spot after 19 minutes before Fletcher slotted home from close range from an Eagles cross just over the half-hour mark. City though came back strongly and Wright-Phillips reduced the arrears two minutes before half-time. It looked all over when two quick goals by first Toure after 55 minutes and then Bellamy three minutes later gave City a 3-2 lead but Burnley battled bravely and contained City well when a tonking looked on the cards. We had the last laugh too when substitute Kevin McDonald popped up three minutes from time to score from five yards out after Fletcher had headed Nugent’s flighted ball across goal. 3-3 final score, a point on the road that would prove our only one to date!
Alan Wiley is the referee in charge of this match. He became a Select Group Referee in 1999.
This will be the first league game this season involving the Clarets that Willey will have been the referee.
The grim statistics comparing the current form of the two sides speaks volumes. Manchester City currently in 5th place spot and hoping to finish in that vital 4th place are riding high both in terms of league position and confidence. They have won 5 of their last ten games and drawn three but the fact they have lost three and can be inconsistent gives the Clarets at least some hope.
In contrast of course our form has been woeful and the slide down the table since Christmas has been painful to watch. Owen Coyle has a lot to answer for but Brian Laws badly needs a win to restore some confidence. We have won just one and drawn one of our last ten games with Fortress Turf Moor evaporating in front of our eyes.
I know this if we are to get anything from this match, we will need a sudden massive increase in confidence, fighting spirit and determination. Anything bordering on the lacklustre performances against Portsmouth, Wolves and Blackburn at home recently and we will be well and truly stuffed! Manchester City have a habit of blowing hot and cold, so let`s hope our body temperature is a few degrees higher than City`s on the day.
My mind says a certain defeat with the avoidance of a tonking a result!
My heart really, really wants to see the Clarets of old put in a performance like the one that defeated their Manchester rivals earlier in the season; only then might we just scrape a result.
Burnley confound the critics and win 1-0! (I know bonkers!)
Well if we somehow get three points against Manchester City, there will be some hope we can still avoid the drop and that would make our trip to the KC Stadium next to play Hull City on Saturday 10th April (Kick-Off 3pm) even more of a stressful six-pointer. Even if we lose to Mancini`s men, there would still probably be a mathematical chance of staying up especially if we beat the Tigers. Anyway wouldn`t it be nice to win at least one away game in the Premier League before we know our fate?