The Clarets return to their play-offs battle in the Championship on Wednesday night with Crystal Palace the visitors to Turf Moor. Every match until the end of the season is now a must-win game if we are to achieve our play-offs dream and Clarets fans will be hoping only one Eagles, the one called Chris will be smiling come the end of the game.
Setting the Scene
Burnley are currently in 7th place on 55 points, four points behind in-form Cardiff in 4th place and 5th placed Sheffield United. Both these sides have games in hand over the Clarets but have games tonight so our position could change by the time we trot out at Turf Moor tomorrow night.
We simply just have to win all our remaining five home games and hope to get as many points away from home as possible in the five games on the road still to play before the end of the season.
We could be in a straight race with local rivals, Preston for the 6th and final play-offs spot. The Lilywhites are currently in 6th spot just one point ahead of the Clarets having played one game more. That will be two games more by tonight with Sheffield Wednesday the visitors to Deepdale.
The Clarets would also have been playing tonight if it was not for our FA Cup run and playing Arsenal at the Emirates only last Sunday. The game against Palace was therefore put back a night to give the Clarets a decent time to rest and recover.
The Clarets go into the game against Palace on the back of an honourable 3-0 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates in the FA Cup 5th round last Sunday. We were simply outclassed in that game but in no way did we disgrace ourselves and tried our best against an opposition that was far too strong for us.
We can now at least focus on our Championship campaign, so let`s hope we can now plough on and reach the play-offs come early May.
Palace have not had the best of things recently although they did break a bad run of form by beating Preston at home 2-1 in their last game. Nevertheless they do seem to have blown their chances of reaching the play-offs and are currently 13th on 47 points. They have only won one of their last six away games, losing four and drawing one.
At the moment there is no news of any injuries to our players after the Arsenal clash although we have to hope that Chris Eagles will be fit to play after looking distinctly jaded and ineffective against the Gunners before being substituted in the second half. Clarets fans will be hoping he has not had a recurrence of his chest infection and asthma problems since we really need him to be firing on all cylinders in the run up to the end of the season.
The Clarets will also be boosted by the return of Rhys Williams who was ineligible to play in the Arsenal game and Michael Duff will also be available after sitting out a one match suspension for a fifth yellow he picked up in the recent home game against Sheffield Wednesday.
Owen Coyle therefore seems to have numerous options in the back four. Both Caldwell and Carlisle have put in two excellent performances in the last two games against Blackpool and the Gunners and I can`t see Duff displacing any of those or indeed being selected at right back with Rhys Williams returning. It looks like Duff may have to be content with a place on the bench and the same goes for Jordan with Kalvenes looking good at left back in recent games.
We have not even mentioned Alexander so far, and it looks like he could well be returning to the holding midfield role. Coyle tried Gudjonsson in that role against the Gunners since there was no option but to have Alexander at right back. He had a pretty average game and I can`t see Joey being given that role against Palace ahead of Alexander and he looks almost certain to be relegated to the bench again.
Coyle has persisted with keeping Paterson in the starting eleven despite him looking jaded and tired in a number of games recently. I think he should now be rested but kept on the bench. I really do think it is time to give Jay Rodriguez a full 90 minutes partnering Thompson up front.
My team selection rather than a prediction would be as follows:
Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Eagles, McCann, Blake, Rodriguez, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Duff (or Jordan), Elliott, McDonald (or Gudjonsson), Paterson
Burnley Team News:
Michael Duff is available after sitting out a one match ban against Arsenal and Rhys Williams returns
No injuries have been reported to date so Coyle would appear to have virtually a full squad to choose from
Player to watch: Chris Eagles
All eyes will be on Chris if he plays. Clarets fans will be looking for confirmation that he is now fully fit and that he simply had an off day against the Gunners.
Crystal Palace Team News:
No news yet in. We will bring you details below this article when available.
Player to watch: John Oster
Clarets fans will remember Oster`s brief spell at Turf Moor in 2005 after his career was resurrected by Steve Cotterill. He left however under a bit of a cloud having appeared to have fallen out with Cotterill over his salary. The Welsh International winger joined Reading in August 2005 and played for them virtually as a squad player more often than not coming on from the bench.
Following an unsuccessful trial at Preston, Palace signed him in August 2008 initially on a six months contract.
He has impressed the gaffer, Neil Warnock so much so his contract has been extended another 18 months.
Oster has made 27 appearances for the Eagles so far and has scored 3 goals including one on his debut against Hereford United in the Carling Cup.
Last Time We Met
We played out a goalless draw at Selhurst Park back in August 2008 which was a vast improvement on the 5-0 tonking we got at the end of the previous season on this ground. Our home game against the Eagles last season in September 2007 finished 1-1 with Robbie Blake getting our goal.
Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
No slip ups lads! 3-1 Clarets
Back to Turf Moor on Saturday 14th March for a home game against Nottingham Forest who are currently struggling in 20th spot (Kick Off 3pm)