Date:Saturday January 24 2009
Saturday 24th January 2009
After the highs and lows of Wednesday night this week with the Clarets failing to reach Wembley and the Carling Cup Final at by just two minutes, the lads now have to dust themselves down and try all over again but this time via the FA Cup.
It is the 4th round and the Clarets face West Brom at the Hawthorns.
That bitter Carling Cup semi final defeat by Spurs having scaled the mountain from 4-1 down in the first leg to lead 3-0 after 90 minutes before two late goals in extra time scuppered our Wembley dreams still hurts.
I am not sure if all Clarets fans are still in mourning, I know I am, but if we are what must the team`s emotions be like? Owen Coyle has somehow got to raise their spirits for yet another battle against Premier League opposition today when the whole team must be physically and mentally drained.
West Brom newly promoted to the Premier League last season are the masters of the yo-yo and once more they find themselves in a relegation battle propping up the Premier League in bottom place. Their form recently though has improved. They beat Middlesbrough 3-0 at home in their last match after despatching Posh 2-0 at London Road in the FA Cup Third Round replay. They have won three of their last five matches and have been undefeated at home in six matches.
If the Clarets play like they did against Spurs and put in yet another stunning performance this time against the Baggies it should be an easy passage to the 5th Round. But there is a danger that a jaded team, demoralised by that defeat in midweek could turn up.
We have had a torrid Christmas and New Year now winning only one game in eight in all competitions since December 20th. We also have a small squad and have played more games than any other Championship or Premier League side this season (excepting Manchester United)
We scaled Everest on Wednesday night and then got mugged on the summit. Somehow we now have a smaller mountain to climb but one that will equally test our climbing skills as a new potential Wembley Way opens up for us. This competition probably took second fiddle with the Carling Cup at the forefront of all the Clarets minds. We are out of that now and somehow we just have to forget it, as though it didn`t happen and focus on today.
With all the games we have played recently we need another draw and replay like a hole in the head and I am hoping we can just shade this game. We will have played nine matches in one month alone this month (including Watford and Charlton still to play in the League after today) and that is enough for any side who have promotion dreams via the play-offs.
The Clarets recently dropped out of the top six for the first time since October and are currently 7th in the League. They need a confidence boost today in order to set them up nicely for the league games ahead starting with Watford away on Tuesday night.
Make us all proud again lads only this time without the tears at the end.
One player that won`t feature is Stephen Jordan. He limped off against Spurs in midweek after clashing with Bentley and was found to have a knee ligament injury. It doesn`t look to be as bad as first feared though and he has a suspected twisted medial ligament in his knee.
Christian Kalvenes came on for Jordan and looks set to start in the Baggies game.
Steven Caldwell also returns after his one match suspension against Spurs for picking up a fifth yellow and Steve Thompson is also available after being cup tied in midweek.
Thompson though might struggle to get a starting eleven place with the star player of Wednesday night, Robbie Blake surely earning his place against West Brom. Owen Coyle had in recent matches tried a combination of Paterson and Thompson upfront so it will be interesting to see how we line up today.
Kevin McDonald also appears to have recovered from injury being named on the bench on Wednesday night. He last played against Swansea at Turf Moor last month, coming on from the bench.
The team could look something like this:
Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Eagles, Blake, Paterson
Subs: Penny, Carlisle, Mahon or McDonald, Rodriguez, Thompson
There is also an option for Alexander to play the holding midfield role with a back four of Duff, Caldwell, Carlisle and Kalvenes but I would prefer the straight back four with Carlisle losing out. Duff plays much better in the centre and Carlisle has struggled in some of the recent games.
Baggies striker Roman Bednar returns from suspension. Hamstring injuries to both James Morrison and Luke Moore will keep them sidelined along with the injured Ishmael Miller and Neil Clement.
In an amazing injury list for West Brom they will also have defenders Jonas Olsson, Abdoulaye Meite, Leon Barnett and Gianni Zuiverloon unavailable.
The Czech Republic international striker scored 13 goals in 29 appearances for West Brom during his loan spell. He then signed permanently from Hearts last year and has notched up six goals in eighteen appearances. We need to snuff out the threat should he play today after returning from suspension.
Stephen Jordan is sidelined with a knee injury and Christian Kalvenes is expected to take over the left back position. Steven Caldwell returns after a one match suspension for a fifth yellow. Steven Thompson is also available after being cup tied in midweek.
Two thunderous goals from free kicks for Robbie, one against Preston last week and then against Spurs in midweek should ensure the Baggies will be dreading giving away fouls up to 30 yards out!
Blake though had a superb game against Spurs easily winning the man of the match award. He dazzled his way through the Spurs defence to cross for McCann to score our second and was also the player who took the free kick that led to the Spurs keeper fumbling the ball for Rodriguez to get our third.
He looked dejected and jaded though after that cruel ending and what better way for him to prove to the Clarets faithful that he has fully recovered by playing the same way today against West Brom.
Incredibly the only previous meeting in the FA Cup competition was way back in 1889, when Albion easily won 5-1 at home in a second round tie.
Last season we played West Brom in the Championship openner at Turf Moor back in August 2007 winning 2-1 with Duff and Gray the scorers. The return at the Hawthorns in February 2008 reversed the score with James O`Connor scoring our goal in the 2-1 defeat.
Mike Dean (Wirral)
We have to avoid a draw at all costs so here is hoping for a 2-1 victory
We return to the Championship promotion challenge with an away visit to struggling side, Watford on the night of Tuesday 27th January @7:45pm KO
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Date:Saturday January 24 2009
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