The Clarets now have a chance to put aside the terrible disappointment of losing against Rovers in the mother of all derbies last Sunday at Ewood Park by collecting maximum points from our next two matches.
Both these games are at home starting with Wigan on Saturday followed by Hull a week later. The top priority of course is survival and losing all our games away so far this season is beginning to put considerable pressure on our home form.
So far of course we have won four out of four at home in the top flight, in itself a record for clubs promoted to the Premier League in their first season and it is now crucial we maintain that form against sides that could be struggling with us in the relegation mix at the end of the season.
Survival may be Number One priority but with the East Lancashire bragging rights currently in the wrong part of the County until the return match at Turf Moor next March, finishing above Blackburn Rovers at the end of the season would also bring a smile to the faces of all Clarets fans. Six points from these next two home games with Rovers facing tough away trips next to first Chelsea and then Manchester United could mean come the end of October that the Clarets will have eight points more than Rovers. An added incentive indeed!
Predicted Team Sheet
Owen Coyle may be tempted to select the same eighteen again, despite a number of players being under-par and having an off-day in the heartbreaking defeat at Ewood Park last Sunday. This eighteen (or similar) seem to be the Jekyll & Hyde of the Premier League, awesome at home and awful away.
So if Coyle thinks the same eighteen deserve another chance to be Mr Jekyll at home, he will select the following:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, Bikey, Blake, Fletcher, Nugent
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Duff, Eagles, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Thompson.
I do think though those other players on the fringe of the starting eleven now deserve to be given a chance and in particular, Chris Eagles (see Burnley Player to Watch). My other concern at the moment is Graham Alexander, sorry Grezza but I think you are showing your age and making too many mistakes in midfield with far too many passes going astray making us prone to a counter-attack. I would like to see him rested and others given a chance either in the holding midfield role or by moving to a straight 4-4-2. The centre back pairing also had a torrid time against Rovers on Sunday and there could be an argument for bringing in Duff or even Edgar but with home advantage, I suspect Coyle will still with his captain as well as Carlisle.
My other concern is the attack. Nugent was the invisible man against Rovers and badly needs a goal to restore confidence. Fletcher was not much better and needs to be played more as a striker rather than someone playing out wide and struggling.
Fernando Guerrero has now also recovered from his hamstring injury and could be in contention for a place in the eighteen
My view would be to change things round on Saturday and move to 4-4-2 but have the ability to revert back to 4-1-4-1 if required.
I would like to see the following eighteen against Wigan playing 4-4-2:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Bikey, Eagles, Elliott, Blake, Fletcher, Nugent
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Duff, Guerrero, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Thompson.
That would be my preference but my prediction would be that Coyle will show faith in the same eighteen he selected for Rovers last Sunday and our last home game against Birmingham.
Burnley Team News:
The Clarets have no additional injuries to worry about. Chris McCann (medial ligament), Martin Paterson (torn cartilage) and Jay Rodriguez (fractured foot) are all making steady improvement on their long road to recovery with December-January their target for a return.
Owen Coyle will also have been boosted by the return of Fernando Guerrero. He has now fully recovered from his hamstring problem and played in the reserve match against Manchester City in midweek.
The Clarets also have nobody suspended and the good news this week was that Wade Elliott escaped a FA ban and fine after an alleged stamping incident on Rovers defender, Pascal Chimbonda. Chris Foy, the referee in charge of the game after seeing the video evidence was unable to confirm he would have definitely produced a red card.
Player to watch: Chris Eagles
I am hoping Eagles is given a place in the starting eleven against Wigan. His performances of late coming on from the bench have been impressive and he completely changed the course of the game when he came on against Rovers at Ewood Park last Sunday. His late goal in the 92nd minute was an added bonus.
Wigan Athletic Team News:
Wigan currently have two major injury concerns. Austrian international central defender and midfielder, Paul Scharner has a hip injury and their goalkeeper, England international, Chris Kirkland dislocated a finger during Wigan`s 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.
Both are currently rated as having a 50:50 chance of playing by Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez.
Player to watch: Jason Scotland
Scotland of course scored a brace of goals for Swansea against Burnley at Turf Moor last season during our traditional bad spell in the Christmas and New Year period and looked dangerous throughout the match with Swansea coming away with a 2-0 victory.
Owen Coyle of course made no secret of the fact that he tried to sign Scotland for the Clarets in the close season. Coyle though was eventually outbid by Wigan and the new gaffer there, Scotland`s former boss at Swansea, Roberto Martiinez. Premier League life for Scotland though does not appear to have been too rosy so far with some Wigan fans being critical of his performances and lack of goals. We shall have to hope the goal drought continues for Scotland on Saturday.
Back to the Future
The last time Burnley were in the top flight in 1975-76, if you mentioned Wigan you only thought of Eddie Waring and Rugby League! Wigan Athletic had been in existence since 1932 but were a non-league club. They only became an English League club in 2 June 1978 with poor Southport losing out after finishing bottom of Division 4 at the end of 1977-8. The rest they say is history.
Since that time we have played Wigan 19 times in the lower leagues and cup games and have won just 2 of them with 7 draws. The last time we played them was in their promotion season from the Championship in 2004-5. The good news for the Clarets was that we got four points off them too that season. We picked up a point in a goalless draw back in September 2004 at the JJB Stadium (now called the DW Stadium) before beating the Latics 1-0 at Turf Moor on the 28th December 2005. Graham Branch scored the goal after 24 minutes. The crowd that day bearing in mind Wigan`s generally poor support and the fact this was the Boxing Day-equivalent match was a reasonable 16,485 but for the Premier League clash on Saturday we can expect in excess of 20,000.
Bolton referee, Lee Mason is in charge of this one. This will be his second Clarets match this season having been the referee at Anfield when we lost 4-0 to Liverpool.
The Clarets are currently 10th on 12 points, four places above Wigan who have 10 points. Whilst our home form has been exemplary, Wigan have struggled on the road and have lost their last three away games with only their opening day defeat of Aston Villa to fall back on. They did of course put in an impressive display against Chelsea at home beating the Blues 3-1 but then we too have had success against a Top 4 club having beaten Manchester United on home soil with Wigan going down 5-0 to them at the newly named DW Stadium.
It is crucial we maintain our 100% home record after the disappointing defeat down the road last Sunday. All Clarets fans are probably nervy about this one; our home record can`t last forever and losing continually away puts the team under pressure to get the points at Turf Moor. We have to hope again that the Fortress Turf Moor factor plays its part and that the Clarets bounce back strongly after the derby disappointment.
I think we will come back fighting and win convincingly, so I am going with a 3-1 victory to the Clarets with Nugent getting back to scoring ways along with Fletcher. One of those will get a brace!
In our second consecutive home game, we play Hull City at Turf Moor on Saturday 31st October 2009 @3pm Kick Off