Burnley will be hoping to end 2013 with a bang and get back on track following their Boxing Day defeat at Middlesbrough. Next up is Wigan in the DW Stadium this Sunday.
The Clarets lost their position at the top of the table following their Boxing Day defeat at the Riverside on Thursday. Leicester leapfrogged Burnley into top spot and now lead the Clarets in second place by two points with 45 points from 22 games. The Foxes face a relatively easy home game against 17th placed Bolton this Sunday whilst the Clarets face a tricky visit to Wigan so we really need something at the DW Stadium to keep in contention. All the Burnley tickets have been sold for this match although it may have lost some of its attraction since Owen Coyle is no longer manager at the club. Wigan have however looked in far better shape since the arrival of their new manager, Uwe Rosler. Since bringing in the former Brentford boss earlier this month, so far they have not lost a match winning two and drawing one. Burnley will also need to be wary of their home form having lost just two of the 11 Championship matches played at the DW Stadium this season, although at least both defeats have been in the last four home games. Wigan are currently in 13th spot with 29 points, six points away from the play-offs, still probably below expectations for last season`s Premier League club. It is vital we come away with something in our last game of 2013 and get our automatic promotion challenge back on track. Come on you Clarets!
Wigan Athletic Team News:
Jean Beausejour misses out through suspension. The Chile international midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season during Boxing Day’s clash with Birmingham and will now serve a one-match ban. Midfielder Ben Watson however is available again after sitting out a one-match suspension. Thomas Rogne limped off against Birmingham and could join keeper Scott Carson, defender Emmerson Boyce and forward Nick Powell on the sidelines.
Player to watch: Chris McCann
If you ask any Burnley fan if we have missed Chris McCann this season, you will most probably get the answer ‘no`! Ask any Wigan fan if he has set the world alight this season playing for them, you will probably get the answer ‘no` as well. McCann agreed to join Wigan Athletic in the summer following the expiry of his contract with Burnley at the end of June 2012 after being seduced by former Burnley manager Owen Coyle. He will be up for this one though and we need to make sure he is not allowed to play like he did for the Clarets in days gone by.
Burnley Team News:
Ben Mee missed out on Boxing Day with an injury and news is awaited on his chances of facing Wigan. Danny Lafferty stood in at left back against Boro and to be honest looked somewhat shaky and error prone. Alex Cisak was also suffering from illness and was replaced by Nick Liversedge on the bench at the Riverside. Dean Marney and Jason Shackell also appeared to pick up knocks during the Boro game but hopefully they will now have had time to recover.
Ross Wallace remains the only injured player and he is on track to make a comeback in the early New Year. He continues to recover from surgery a few months back to fix a ‘wear and tear` injury to his knee.
Player to watch: David Jones
It`s the battle of the midfielders on Sunday with a player in each team playing against their former club. We have already reviewed Chris McCann above so now it`s the turn of former Wigan midfielder, David Jones who joined the Clarets on a free transfer after signing a permanent deal in the summer. Jones should certainly be up for this one against his former team mates and may have a point to prove. He has perhaps been a little underpar in recent games and seems to suffer more in the absence of Dean Marney. Marney should be playing on Sunday though so let`s hope Jones plays at the top of his game. He could be influential in linking with the strike pairing of Ings and Vokes and we need all the engine room to be in top form.
Team & Tactics:
There is an indication that Sean Dyche intends to make a few changes. The Clarets have not won now in five away games and perhaps need a fresh approach. Keith Treacy could start after coming off the bench in recent games with Michael Kightly likely to make way. Stanislas too might be given a start although Arfield would be a tadge unfortunate to make way. I have also made the assumption that both Mee and Cisak have returned to full fitness so we can probably expect a line-up something like this:
Heaton, Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Treacy, Marney, Jones, Arfield, Ings, Vokes
Subs: Cisak, Lafferty, Long, Stock, Edgar, Stanislas, Kightly
Premier League official, Mike Jones is in charge of this Lancashire derby. The Chester referee has sent off just 2 players in his 16 games so far this season whilst another 49 have picked up yellow cards. His last game involving the Clarets was earlier this season when we played Reading at home back in October. Hopefully that 2-1 win will be a good omen. Only two players saw red that day.
It won`t be easy to come away with points from the DW Stadium but it`s vital we do should we wish to regain top spot before the New Year. Even three points might not be enough if Leicester beat Bolton at home. The Clarets don`t really want to go into 2014 with Leicester four-five points clear. Wigan have not lost yet under their new manager and its time they did! 2-1 Clarets
It`s the War of the Roses clash against Huddersfield at Turf Moor next in our first game of 2014 on New Year`s Day, Wednesday 1st January (Kick-Off: 3pm)