All Clarets fans were in the depths of depression last Saturday after losing at home to Wolves in a vital six-pointer against a fellow side struggling to avoid the drop. That defeat kept us third from bottom with those clubs just above us now opening up a gap. We are now three points adrift of Wolves who are currently 4th from bottom and we have played a game more. Burnley now visit Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday and the Latics are another team struggling to avoid relegation. This match is therefore yet another six-pointer for the Clarets. One word sums Wigan up this season and that word is inconsistent. We just don`t know which team will turn up. Will it be the one that beat Liverpool 1-0 at home recently or the one that got thumped at the Reebok losing 4-0 to Bolton? Wigan suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Aston Villa in midweek and just like us have only won one league game in the last ten. They currently sit in 15th spot on 28 points just four clear of the Clarets having played the same number of games.
With games rapidly running out for the Clarets, three points in this match and our first away win of the season would be a massive, massive boost with just seven games to play after that and with the Blackburn Rovers game at Turf Moor coming up next. We just have to shout our hearts out for the Clarets in this match and put all our thoughts about the manager good or bad behind us. There is no call for booing your own manager or players when we can still survive the drop. The ominous worrying signs lately of Clarets fans verbal taunts on the pitch simply undermine confidence even more and should be resisted at all cost. We have a battle to win, let`s make sure we win it! Up the Clarets!
Predicted Team Sheet
There seems a strong chance that Steven Fletcher will be back in the side after missing the last three matches due to a broken bone in the hand. It is difficult to know who Laws would drop though with both Paterson and Nugent scoring of late and putting in solid performances. Indeed Laws might be tempted to select all three since we really have to get goals and three points in this game. Fletcher and Nugent up front as a twin strike-force with Pato playing a wider role does have some appeal.
The gaffer could have some selection dilemmas in midfield too with news that Jack Cork and Kevin McDonald look to be back in contention after missing the Wolves game through injury.
I would play the following not that I think Laws would agree with me but how does this sound?
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Paterson, Fletcher, Nugent
Subs: Weaver, Duff, Jordan, Bikey, Elliott or Cork, Blake, Thompson
Wigan Athletic Team News:
Wigan key midfielder Charles N’Zogbia is doubtful for this clash. N’Zogbia picked up a hip injury during the defeat by Aston Villa on Tuesday night in midweek and is rated 50-50 by manager Roberto Martinez. I bet he plays! Victor Moses is likely to be his replacement.
Their captain Mario Melchiot is due to return to training after a thigh injury but is not expected to feature against the Clarets.
Player to watch: Gary Caldwell
There is no doubt that Burnley will have to score in this game with three-points almost a definite requirement if we are to stay up this season. One person trying to stop us will be Wigan`s centre back, Gary Caldwell brother of course of our own captain, Steven Caldwell.
The 27 year old Scottish international defender joined Wigan from Celtic only last January for an undisclosed fee signing a four-and-a-half year deal. Steven might not be able to face up to Gary on the pitch due to his own injury problems but he might be able to tip of his colleagues of some of his brother`s areas of weakness.
Burnley Team News:
Steven Fletcher is understood to be fit enough to play after being sidelined with a broken hand for the last three games.
Chris McCann still seems to be struggling with his knee injury and suffered a further set-back in midweek when he was deemed unfit to play in a Reserves match against Manchester United. Steven Caldwell although making progress is also doubtful with his persistent groin problem.
Caldwell could therefore miss out on a chance to play against his brother, Gary in the Wigan team
‘I’m not ruling it out, although the game will probably come too quickly for me and that would be extremely disappointing,’ said Caldwell.
‘I don’t know who the family will be supporting. It will be very difficult. I’m pretty sure that if I’m not playing they will be hoping Wigan do well and it will save them a lot of trouble.
‘Obviously I hope Burnley win and Gary has a good game but maybe lets us score a few goals.’
There is better news though on three of our other injured players. Danny Fox had to be given oxygen for a suspected broken rib against Wolves on Saturday. He also then had to be stretchered off but there was good news later when it was revealed that the injury was not as serious as first feared with Laws hopeful he could be fit enough to play against Wigan.
Laws will also get more options in midfield at the DW Stadium with the news that both Kevin McDonald (back injury) and Jack Cork (calf injury) have made good recoveries and should be available to play. The pair missed the game against Wolves due to injury.
Brian Laws has also revealed that Clarke Carlisle has been suffering from a badly bruised and swollen toe; a condition that has required injections in order to get through recent matches.
Player to watch: Steven Fletcher
Fletcher has missed the last three games with a broken hand but is now believed to be in contention for a starting eleven place against Wigan. Our leading goal-scorer has been missed although both Martin Paterson and David Nugent have played well in his absence and it will be interesting to see if all three players are accommodated in the team on Saturday or whether someone will lose out.
Back to the Future
Our last game against Wigan back in October last year was a miserable affair for Clarets fans and we tasted our first defeat at home in the top-flight since promotion. The tall, physical presence of the Wigan attack that day was far too strong for us and we lost the game 3-1. Steven Fletcher got our goal that day and the match will also be remembered for an injury to Brian Jensen in the first half. Diego Penny came on to replace him and make a rare appearance with just 15 minutes of the game played.
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 in cup games and have won just 2 of them with 7 draws.
Chester official Mike Jones is our referee for this one and everybody remembers him as soon as you say beach ball!! (Allowing Darren Bents beach-ball goal for Sunderland against Liverpool back in October ring any bells?)
He has been in charge of just two of our league games this season both at home against Hull and then Fulham. Jones was also the referee in our FA Cup defeat away to Reading back in January this year.
I was on a right downer after the Wolves game and in our prediction league gave Wigan a 4-0 victory over us. I have been told to be more positive and on the assumption surely we have to win one game on the road this season and the fact I now have this strange, sneaky feeling it is our turn at long last, I will go with 1-0 Clarets!
It is time for the East Lancs Bragging Rights to shift from Ewood Park to Turf Moor. Yes, it`s the visit of Blackburn Rovers to Turf Moor on Sunday 28th March. Do not forget also the clocks go forward on the Saturday night and in consideration of everybody it has been decided to make this a 12 noon Kick-Off. Yeah right thanks a bundle!!