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Burnley vs. Stoke City

Turf Moor

Wednesday 10th March 2010


The Long & Winding Road to Survival Starts Here

They all seem like 'must-win' games these days but the match against Stoke City at Turf Moor on Wednesday night, I do really believe is the defining moment of our season and could decide whether we remain in the top-flight at the end of the season or not. Win this, Clarets fans really can believe again that we could still survive especially with another game at home coming up on Saturday against fellow strugglers, Wolves. Lose against Stoke or even draw and the doubts will remain with only hope and blind faith for some Clarets fans remaining. This game is that crucial with three points being vital for the team`s confidence and hopes of survival.

If we can forget about losing to Arsenal last Saturday, take the positives from that game and use them against Stoke then we should have a good chance of beating Tony Pulis`s men. We certainly should have more motivation than Stoke since our very survival in the top flight could depend on it against a side that already looks safe on 34 points in 11th spot and heading for a mid-table finish. Of course if we don`t win it is still mathematically possible to survive the drop but confidence of fans, players and manager alike are bound to be pretty low and with other teams in the relegation mix having their little runs, it is vital we keep in touch and start to get out of the drop-zone.

Come on you Clarets! Let`s all shout from the battlements of the new 'Fortress Turf Moor` that is hopefully now being rebuilt on stone as we speak after sinking in the sands against Pompey!

Predicted Team Sheet

The big question is whether Steven Fletcher will be fit enough to play with a broken hand. It was judged to be too painful for him to be named in the eighteen against Arsenal at the Emirates last Saturday even with a cast or light protection on the hand. He will have a late fitness test to assess whether he can play but even if he passes that test there is an argument to suggest that both Paterson and Nugent have done enough recently to keep their place in the starting eleven.

With no news of any further injuries except for Chris McCann (knee) and Steven Caldwell (persistent groin strain) who are still sidelined for this match, Laws could easily decide to select the same eighteen that did particularly well to hold Arsenal to just a 3-1 defeat last Saturday.

If Fletcher is fit, I think he will probably be in the starting eleven knowing Laws but I would still select the following eighteen which is the same line-up as in our last match. It might be time to introduce some consistency now at this crucial stage of the season

Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Cork, McDonald, Eagles, Paterson, Nugent

Subs: Weaver, Duff, Jordan, Blake, Bikey, Elliott, Thompson (or Fletcher if fit)

Burnley Team News:

Fletcher awaits a late fitness test to see if he is fit enough to play with his broken hand.

Chris McCann is still sidelined with a knee injury and our captain, Steven Caldwell although making progress in his recovery from a troublesome groin strain is still not ready for consideration.

Player to watch: Leon Cort

Leon Cort as well as being able to provide some insider knowledge about his former club will also be keen to get on the score sheet himself from a set-piece against his old club. Brian Laws made it plain he wanted the side to score more from set-pieces and it had been hoped that Cort would be able to help in that process. So far though our record from set-pieces has been poor and we have yet to score from a corner this season.

It will also be interesting to see if Cort retains his remarkable record in defence of not picking up any bookings now in 189 League games. Cort was last booked during his days at Southend in a game against Northampton in April 2004.

Stoke City Team News:

Ryan Shawcross of course will still be suspended after picking up a three match ban following his red card in Stoke`s game against Arsenal recently. The strong tackle broke Aaron Ramsey`s leg and started immediate controversy as to whether the sending off was fair.

Stoke also have a number of injuries that could jeopardise Tony Pulis`s preferred team selection.

Glenn Whelan limped off with a hamstring strain against Chelsea in Stoke`s 2-0 FA Cup Quarter Final defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and could be doubtful for Wednesday night.

Salif Diao is out with a calf problem while James Beattie and Matthew Etherington (both knee) and Danny Higginbotham (back) could also be sidelined. All four missed the Chelsea FA Cup match.

Player to watch: Rory Delap

Rory Delap and his infamous long throw-ins are the bane of most clubs in the Premier League and nobody really has an answer to it. We certainly didn`t in our opening game of the season against them at the Britannia (see 'Back to the Future` below). Brian Laws thinks our former Stoke defender, Leon Cort will be able to give us some clues on how to defend against them but all Clarets fans will still be nervous when any throw-ins are given away in our half.

Back to the Future

The last time we played Stoke City of course was on the opening day of the season at the Britannia. It was not the perfect start to our first campaign in the top flight for 33 years. We lost the game 2-0 thanks to two first half goals. The Clarets back-four showed their naivety in the 19th minute after a sequence of errors culminated in a carelessly conceded free kick on the left. Liam Lawrence floated it over to the far post where Stoke centre-half Ryan Shawcross climbed unmarked to head past Jensen to put Stoke 1-0 up. The set piece kings had done it again and for their second goal after 33 minutes it was time for Stoke`s other main weapon to strike in the shape of the quintessential Rory Delap throw-in!

As the long throw came in there was panic inside the six yard area where the unfortunate Stephen Jordan made the slightest contact to nudge the ball beyond his own goalkeeper.

That defeat meant we had now gone four games against Stoke without a win (although 2 draws at least) so that will have to change on Wednesday night. The last time we beat Stoke was in a Championship game at the Britannia in September 2006. A goal by Andy Gray in the first minute was enough to seal victory that day.

Thirty three years ago the last time we were in the top flight, Stoke City finished 12th and enjoyed a double over the Clarets who of course were eventually relegated. They beat us 1-0 at Turf Moor in November 1975 before thumping us 4-1 at Victoria Road in March 1976, Hankin got our solitary goal that day in the 37th minute with the Clarets already 3-0 down after just half-an-hour played.

Ref Watch:

Well unless they change the scheduled referee again, which now seems to be happening with some regularity, we will have Lee Probert in charge of this one! The Wiltshire referee was appointed to the Select Group Referees list in 2007 and took charge of his first Premier League game in January 2007 between Sheffield United and Portsmouth. He has only been in charge of one league game involving the Clarets this season and that was the recent fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Match Prediction:

This will not be easy but we have to be up for this more than Stoke who are effectively safe already and have a pointless ambition to get to 40 points and finish in mid-table above 12th. We are playing for survival in the top flight big-time and we have to show the passion and determination to win this one. There is no room for lack of confidence, no room for self-doubt and no room for under par performances. Everybody has to be at the top of their game so please no more Pompeys!! 2-1 Clarets but I don`t care what the score is as long as we win!

Next Match

Another home game and another crucial six-pointer with fellow strugglers Wolves the visitors to Turf Moor on Saturday 13th March (Kick-Off: 3pm)

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The Journalist

Writer: turfmanphil Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday March 9 2010

Time: 1:27PM

Your Comments

Just flipping get three points Burnley,nowt else to say really is there?
nope, just get 3 points.
I think 33 or 34 points should be enough to survive. Think we can rule out any Pompey miracles. I'd like to see Burnley stay up, easily my favourite of the 3 that got promoted. If you can keep Delap's throws and Ricardo Fuller at bay then you can win the game against Stoke easily.
Sums it up for me Phil, one nil and a boring game, scrappy, rubbish, didn't deserve to win, robbed them of all 3 points, I couldn't care one dot as long as we have 3 more points come final whistle tomorrow night.
Yes, got to win this one and hopefully build on that starting Saturday. Let's hope it's the performance of the season with defenders closing down and quickly stifling any Stoke attacks, and whoever plays up front grabbing a hatful . C'mon the Clarets.
Hopefully no injuries or suspensions and a win
Wigan's win last night makes this one even more crucial then it was. We have to be masters of our own destiny now and six points from the next two games would be perfect. Four points would be ok, three a bit disappointing but I suppose one win is better than two draws. Anything less than three points could mean Goodnight Vienna.
Laws must absolutely start with the same team that started against Arsenal. The Stoke game is going to be tough, we will need as much skill up front as we can get against a team that will defend in depth and at the same time be very well aware of a quick break although they will only play one up front. Must win? who knows but we must believe our destiny is in our own hands.
I still think we are better than Hull and Wolves plus we are no worse than notlob and Wigan. Lets start this run of points against Stoke......LOUD AND PROUD
I think I agree with those statements VR apart from the fact that Bolton have taken four points of us and Wolves (away) and Wigan 3 so far(at home as well). My gut feeling though is that we are not really much worse than these three with Hull definitely worse! We simply have to string two wins together (or more)to begin to prove it
Yep agree with you all 3 points against stoke, 3 points against wolves and lets give delap a good kicking.
Kicking? In the arm would be appropriate not that I condone that sort of thing of course!!!
Just had a thought about the team whilst having my evening bath, I would rest McDonald and bring in Elliot for this one, not sure why but it made sense in the bath! Have you bought one of them ducks from the club shop half price 2.50.....bargain bought 3 and they are a joy in the bath they play nicely together highly recommended.....nurse......
I do worry about you VR!! lol :-)
Interesting result for Bolton tonight which hopefully will give us even more of a lift to win tomorrow, and be just 3 points behind them with Saturday to come. Forget the lift, the stairs will do as long as we get those 3 points.
We must beat Stoke I think, not just because of the three points but for the confidence it would give us again - especially at home. Despite all the brave talk the team must be getting a bit demoralised and that is what Pulis warned us about before the first game - knowing you are going to get hammered a lot and going on losing runs without dropping the heads. If we lose tonight then the home 'fortress' spell will have well and truly have been broken and a result against Wolves even harder. I think we should find a spot for Blake, he played as well as anyone against Pompey and can do things that no-one else can. McDonald needs a rest or needs to get more involved. I will be up at 4am to cheer us home. 3-1 Up the Clarets!
We need to play the same team exept maybe look at putting macdonald as sub, bringing either Elliot on gamble on blake to bug the Stoke defence
Albmaleaf claret
For me the front 6 against Stoke would be, Eagles, Alexander, Cork, Elliot, Patterson and Nugent. Both Pato and Nugent have the energy to track back if need be.
I would agree with Elliott if he played like we know he can rather than play like he has been for last ten games or so (ie not at the races)
Phil I was screaming for Wade to be rested when Laws was appointed, he has put him on the bench recently and I think that should be enough to ensure he will relish the prospect of 90minutes again. His tackling imo is better than Robbies and his speed at getting back is faster than Robbies, magic is another question but for this game I just think it would suit Wade more than Robbie.
Friggin hell they changed the Ref again, Howard Webb now who seems to like Burnley games!
Shawcross being out should give you a boost in confidence. He's usually the one that gets on the end of Delap's throws. Good luck.
Thompson makes his first Premier start, will that be 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 gawd knows? Team line-ups:Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Fox, Carlisle, Cort, Alexander, Cork, Nugent, Paterson, Thompson, Eagles. Subs: Duff, McDonald, Elliott, Blake, Jordan, Bikey, Weaver. Stoke City: Sorensen, Huth, Lawrence, Sidibe, Whitehead, Tuncay, Collins, Delap, A Faye, Etherington, Wilkinson. Subs: Amdy Faye, Kitson, Pugh, Davies, Lund, Moult, Begovic,
Tuncay scores for Stoke damn!!!
Paterson with a good chance goes wide 40 mins
Half-time at turf moor: Burnley 0-1 Stoke
Second-half then McDonald on for Cork, Come on the Clarets lets turn things round!!!!
Half time 0-1. I have been reluctant tp criticise Laws but he chooses one of our 'have to win games' to start with Thompson in a formation that no-one seems to understand and our normally weak midfield is now totally non-existent. We are playing the long ball formation but without using the long ball! No problem with resting McDonald but not for Thompson! Gudjohnson would have been a better choice and he can't even get in the squad. Cork injured for 2nd half - great, our one midfielder! C'mon you Clarets!
Nugent equalizes whoopeeeee!!! Burnley 1-1 Stoke
Nugent with half a chance for a penalty!! not given
McDonald seems up for it making the difference!!
Wade Elliott on for Steve Thompson
Stephen Jordan on for Danny Fox 12 mins to go, Come on lads!!
7 mins left normal time still Burnley 1-1 Stoke
Eagles over the bar into 3 mins added time
Stoke did not sell all their tickets, Full-time 1 point gained 2 points lost you decide? Burnley 1-1 Stoke
ozjean - I was listening not watching. But wasn't at least part of the point of playing Thommo because of what he brings defensively against high balls into our box? Whatever. Let's build on this point, not get upset it wasn't 3, stay positive, and stuff Wolves who, again, will be more rested than us when we face them.
Couch Potato
No mugs Stoke a must win against Wolves, It is squeaky bum time!!
That's it - Laws has lost me completely. We are 1-1, desperately needing a win and Laws takes off Fox and brings on Jordan leaving Robbie on the bench! Even the commentators asked what he was doing, said Blake was our most creative player and should be on if we were looking for 3 points. They said Laws must be playing for a draw! Slightly better than first half, mainly due to Patterson and McDonald, Eagles is still too lightweight but admit he did some good defending. Why, when we are playing big guys up front do we not cross the ball? Eagles tries to beat four players and then has a weak shot. Our only goal came from a good cross and then we didn't do any more. Elliott gave the ball away again when he came on. Have to say we were helped by Stoke obviously happy with a draw. That seems to be their strategy - win most at hom,e and draw most away. It works. Now the Wolves game is a MUST win. Let's hope Laws doesn't play yet another different formation - perhaps Patterson at centre-half.
To be fair ozjean Fox was pretty dire tonight that said I don't think Thompson is the answer up front (not exactly prolific) but has the height and can be defensible, we should have gone with Paterson and Nugent up front but hey it has gone now! looking at other message boards it is Laws out! we want our money back? I cannot understand this if they were season ticket holders last season then they would not have paid this season? ( I am not one by the way but have been) if we go down we go down but all this negativity is starting to affect us, we got a point from a good team let us march on together (did I pinch that from Leeds in division one) you bet I did :-)
CP and 8C8, you are both right and I am the last one to be over critical but we had to get up at 4am to watch this and the sleep deprivation and the poor first half have got to me! Whilst I agree Fox wasn't the best, he is the same as Jordan and what's the point of subbing him with 15 mins to go when we are only 1-1? Okay if we were 2-1 up and looking to hold on. Blake is our most creative player, puts over good crosses and can score goals too, we needed to try all we could to get 3 points. I don't mind Thompson, he holds the ball well, but not to replace a midfielder. The forwards got next to no service in the first half and not much more in the second. Now is the time to know your best team, home and away, and stick to it. Experimenting at this stage of the season is not on. Up the Clarets.
Re: the Fox substitution question - I saw Mears indicate a hamstring strain to the bench and assumed he was feeling his but then Jordan was hurriedly warmed up in earnest to come on for Fox. I suspect this was behind the apparently curious substitution and would suggest Fox won't be available for Wolves. He didn't have his best game so maybe it may yet turn out to be a 'phantom' injury !
ClaretsPlayer said they thought Fox was injured. Maybe Mears was advising the bench of this? But MHL may also be right that Laws decided he needed to give Jordan a run out before starting him against Wolves. I agree, ozjean, that it's true that it would be good if we could know our best team and broadly stick with it at this crucial stage of the season. All I can say is that IF Coyle had rotated his squad in more intelligent ways, he would have known his best squad in Nov and Dec. Then IF he had stayed he would have been able to play it now. As it was, everybody and their aunt was calling for him to rotate more in Nov and Dec. Whatever psychological shortcoming it was that prevented him from rotating (or resting, if you prefer that word), plus his inability to stick at any job for more than two years, has left Brian Laws having to experiment at this late stage. Up the Clarets!
Couch Potato
Excellent evening for Laws, I thought playing Thomo was inspired and nearly paid off. Looking at the opposition and picking a team that you think can win the game is something the last man never tried. Cork injured at half time having been bruised and battered by the nice Stoke players who all failed to see a yellow card....Howard Webb take a long hard look in the mirror...plonker. Brought on McDonald who was my man of the match, he worked midfield with assurance and wanted the ball all the time. Wade for Thomo another great substitution as we were getting on top and just that bit of flair and bite were crucial and almost saw us getting the winner. Jordan for Fox, if was at injury so be it but Fox was in danger at times of forgetting we are in Claret n Blue. Patto put in an excellent shift as did, Nugent, Eagles (unlucky and one day he will score), Cort and Mears. I am fed up of negativity and so will only be writing about positives and reminding myself I am a supporter not a journalist paid to slag off players...maybe just maybe I've turned the corner. I think I understand what Laws was trying to do last night, Bikey, Wade, Robbie, Kev all on the bench proving no favourites jsu a desire to gain points and stay up. UTC
Agree VR, there's no room and no need for negative comments right now, Laws is playing it his way and all we can do is back him and the team. In an earlier post I said I'd be happy with 4 points from the two home games so if this point ends up as a platform to beat Wolves then that'll do me. But just to throw one in, I was disappointed that Robbie was'nt brought on for say the last 20 minutes at least, he can make all the difference with creating chances, but there you go, laws is the manager, not me. The second half performance will hopefully continue on Saturday from the kick off, so come on lads - you can do this and I think you know it as well. Excellent support from the crowd as well last night, it can make all the difference.
Robbie may well have come on if Cork hadn't been kicked off?
Couch Potato
Probably right CP, yet another match where forced substitutions changed the original game plan. Pulis and Stoke are certainly producing the goods to stay in the prem but it's not the kind of football I want to see . I still can't believe that they scored yet again from a Delap throw in . Oh well . . .
Very much agree that there were many bright spots on Laws' performance. The dropping of three out of form players, bringing two of them on at the right time, sorting out the defending at half time on the DVD. All very good. The only thing I wish we had done was take a risk and not play too narrow. When right wing had the ball Eagles was stood in the centre circle, not on the far touchline. If we had stretched them, we may have had more chances, albeit at a risk.
Delighted with the fight they showed in that second half. That tells me that the players DO believe they can stay up and that they are willing to fight for their place in the second half. What Laws said at half time - worked.
Sorry do not share all this positivity. This match was an important 'must win' game for us and a game of football is for 90 minutes not 45 minutes no matter how much we improved in the second-half. We were absolute rubbish in the first half in all departments and if we are going to avoid the drop we can't afford to play like that against any team. Very,very disappointed by this result
Plucked from being out of work in the Championship, given a Premiership team, i win out 9, keeps telling us that the pressures on the other teams and that we are enjoying it, sits on a comfy cushion of "Plan B." Guess who?
Answer? Scooby Doo. Why ? It rhymes with "clue," allegedly.
Actually it rhymes with 'Paws'!! ;-)
Interesting to read Phil Bird comment on the official Bfc site how Walcott was lucky to stay on the pitch at the Emirates; and he's got a photo on there to make his point. Why am I saying it here? Because BL's record is a factor of many things, some of which he's responsible for and some of which he's not.
Couch Potato
Brian Laws seems to be getting a bit of a hard time, I would like to say if Owen coyle had been still incharge we would have still been where we are now with a lot weaker squad, And a lot more goals scored against us.
Albmaleaf claret
More than 60 !!!!?

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