Burnley play their second away game in four days on Wednesday night when they travel the long journey down to Suffolk to face Ipswich at Portman Road.
The Clarets have just ten games left to play this season and next up is Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Wednesday night. Most Clarets fans are now resigned to another season in the Championship after a bad run of form which has seen Burnley drop to 15th place with just one win now in the last eight games. Although you can never say never with 30 points still up for grabs, things look bleak in terms of our play-offs hopes. We are currently ten points behind the sixth placed club, Birmingham (although do now have a game in hand)and barring a miracle it now looks like all we have left to play for is pride.
At least we seemed to have turned the corner against the Bluebirds in the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday. It was a creditable performance and we managed to come away with a well-earned point following the goalless draw. It would be nice to finish the season on a high and find that winning streak again in the last ten games remaining. A good run, even if we still miss out on a top six place would still be good for morale and set things up nicely for the new campaign in 2012-13.
It won`t be easy against Paul Jewell`s men. Ipswich looked a very poor side in the reverse fixture at Turf Moor back in November when we tonked them 4-0 but it could be a different story at Portman Road. They have improved significantly since the clash at Turf Moor and are now in a similar position to the Clarets in the table being in 15th spot just one place and one point behind Burnley having played the same number of games. What is also worrying is that they have been particularly impressive at home winning their last four matches and scoring more than an average of three goals per game. The last four score lines at Portman Road have read 3-2 against Posh, 3-0 against Bristol City, 3-0 against Cardiff and most worryingly of all, 5-1 against the Hammers!! If Ipswich are playing only for pride, it`s working! Their away form too has not been bad and in fact they have only lost one game in the last nine matches which is virtually a mirror image of Burnley who have only won one in eight! Something will have to give at Portman Road on Wednesday night, so let`s hope it`s the Clarets who come away with a smile on their faces! It would make the long journey back seem not half so bad!
Ipswich Town Team News:
Paul Jewell does not appear to have any injury concerns ahead of Wednesday night`s clash but we will bring you Ipswich team news in due course if there are any announcements by the club.
Jimmy Bullard returned to training last Friday after serving a two-week club suspension for arriving late for training following a night out.
The 33-year-old midfielder did not feature in Saturday’s home game against Peterborough United and it remains to be seen if all is forgiven and whether he will be in contention for the Burnley match.
Player to watch: Michael Chopra
Chopra is Ipswich`s leading goal scorer this season by some distance having notched up 13 goals in all competitions so far. The 28 year old striker signed a three-year contract with Ipswich Town in June 2011 after arriving from Cardiff City for a fee of £1 million. The former Newcastle and Sunderland forward regularly scores at a rate of one goal every 2-3 games and during his four spells playing for the Bluebirds (two on loan) he scored 59 goals in 142 appearances.
Burnley Team News:
Rodriguez missed his first game of the season against the Bluebirds on Sunday with a groin injury. Martin Paterson and Danny Ings could retain their place in the starting eleven if Rodriguez is still unfit. Worryingly Danny Ings hobbled off the pitch in the last minute of the game against Cardiff. News is awaited on the fitness of both Rodriguez and Ings. Charlie Austin could be back in contention if one or more of the strikers are deemed unfit to play.
Player to watch: Junior Stanislas
Stanislas is back in contention following recovery from his hamstring injury. He has featured in the last two games and made his first start since January against Cardiff on Sunday. It was to be honest a pretty subdued performance and he was substituted in the 73rd minute looking a little tired and weary which is perhaps understandable after about eight weeks being sidelined and little match practice at this level.
Eddie Howe though must surely stick by him and give him another start against Ipswich. When you look back at our recent performances, our form seems to have suffered without Stanislas in the team. His assists and crosses in particular appear to have been missed.
Team & Tactics
If we assume the worst case scenario with Jay Rodriguez still sidelined, I suspect Eddie Howe might be tempted to name the exact same sixteen that impressed away to Cardiff City only last Sunday.
The most likely line-up therefore would be as follows.
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Lafferty, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Stanislas, Paterson, Ings
Subs: Jensen, Mee, Bartley, McQuoid, Austin
If Rodriguez however is fit enough to play, I suspect he will march straight back into the starting eleven with Martin Paterson the most likely to give way unless Danny Ings too has not recovered from injury. Paterson has looked the least impressive up front of late and there is also Charlie Austin waiting in the wings for another opportunity! Eddie Howe certainly has options up front should any of the strikers still be sidelined with injury.
Stanislas returned to the scene following his hamstring injury against Palace at Turf Moor a week last Saturday coming on from the bench with just two minutes left to play. Eddie Howe decided to reward him with a starting eleven place against Cardiff last Sunday and although he was not that impressive, I suspect Howe could give him another chance against Ipswich.
Danny Lafferty also made his debut for the Clarets against Cardiff at left back with Ben Mee dropped back to the bench. It was an impressive debut although not faultless. Sometimes his attacking flair got the better of him and he found himself out of position defensively. He looked a bit shaky to begin with but grew in confidence. Eddie Howe though could be tempted to let him have another run out against Ipswich. It would certainly be good to give him more experience at this level especially with next season in mind.
James Linington from Newport gets this clash. His last game in charge of a match featuring the Clarets was last season in our 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace back in September 2010. 7 yellow cards were flashed that day!
This season so far he has clocked up 97 yellows and 6 reds in 30 games.
Burnley in 15th spot are just one place and one point ahead of Ipswich who have a pretty good home form of late. Ipswich have won their last four games at Portman Road and not only that but have scored 14 goals and conceded only 3. That is more than 3 goals scored per game which is pretty intriguing considering Burnley are now one of only three clubs this season along with Reading and Portsmouth that have not lost by more than 2 goals.
You could argue that both these sides have nothing left to play for this season other than pride. Mathematically though both also could still reach the play-offs if they go on a consistent, impressive run in the remaining ten games of the season. It is a question of what the mindset of the players will be in the two respective teams. Will one team still believe or will both be resigned to another season in the Championship?
Now that Burnley have broken their duck of no away draws on the road this season following the 0-0 score line against Cardiff on Sunday, you half expect another draw between these two similarly placed teams. I am thinking maybe at least 2-2, hoping we can shade it!
We return to Turf Moor on Saturday 24th March for a clash against high-flying West Ham. (Kick-Off 3pm)