Up Pompey...The Prologue!
Saturday 4th December 2010
Ooh er missus! The Clarets are remarkably still seeking that elusive first league away win of the season and this Saturday at Fratton Park they will get the chance again (weather permitting) to break that unwanted duck with Portsmouth the hosts at Fratton Park.
Burnley go into this game at Fratton Park knowing they have only managed to win one on the road in their last 31 league matches. The last time we won away was last season in the top flight when we convincingly beat Hull City at the KC Stadium. Burnley currently in 7th spot are now just seven points behind second-placed Cardiff City and it is vital we keep in touch with them if we are to realise our automatic promotion dreams .Quite simply we have to start winning a few games away from home and string together a run starting with victory over Steve Cotterill`s Portsmouth on Saturday.
Portsmouth and their financial problems have been a hot topic for months but under our former manager, Steve Cotterill despite all the concerns off the pitch, Pompey have perhaps surprised a few pundits this season on the pitch. Relegated of course last season from the Premier League along with the Clarets but in a far more serious financial situation with threats of administration and even worse, they had to sell a number of key players. Despite their perilous situation they are currently mid-table having struggled at the start of the season. Pompey are 13th on 25 points just four points fewer than the Clarets. They have a pretty impressive home record too with four wins and three draws from their nine games so far this season at Fratton Park although they did lose their last home game 3-2 against Doncaster Rovers. Their tails will be up though after beating high-flying Swansea2-1 away in their last match.
With the inclement weather around the country some matches in the Championship are already off and with Hampshire covered in snow the big question mark is whether this game will go ahead or not as well. If the match is postponed this might be due to safety concerns around the ground regarding the slippery icy conditions rather than an unplayable pitch. The situation as of yesterday (Wednesday 1st December) was that Portsmouth had taken precautions to try and ensure the match would proceed. The club also confirmed that at the moment the pitch was playable and that they were confident the match would go ahead. Despite numerous seasons in the top flight Pompey did not invest in under-soil heating but they do have frost covers and these were put over the pitch on Thursday last week. Vital Burnley will bring you any updates as and when we receive them.
Portsmouth Team News:
There is no news of any fresh injury concerns or suspensions for Steve Cotterill to worry about and it looks like we can expect a similar type of line up to recent games
We can expect a line-up something similar to the eighteen selected for their last match away to Swansea, especially since Pompey won that game with Cotterill presumably wanting to show loyalty to the team that beat the Swans. The eighteen for that match was as follows:
Substitutes: Flahavan, Hreidarsson, Sonko, Hughes, Ciftci, Kanu
If there is any further Pompey team news we will bring you this below the article.
Player to watch: David Nugent
Nugent of course is no stranger to Clarets fans and despite his intentions to play in the Premier League it would appear he has now settled down again with Portsmouth in the Championship under Steve Cotterill. He also seems to be hitting the back of the net with some regularity although there is currently no Pompey striker in the top 15 of Npower Championship Top Scorers league table. It would be typical if Nugent scored against us so we will need to try and snuff out the threat.
Burnley Team News:
The club seem bullish that both Chris Eagles (back injury) and Martin Paterson (thigh strain) will be fit for Saturday`s clash at Fratton Park. Paterson picked up the injury towards the end of the first half in the home against Doncaster Rovers last month and has not played since. It was also recently revealed that Chris Eagles has been suffering from a back pang for the last few games in which he has played and he was consequently rested totally for the game against Derby County last Saturday.
Our only injuries at the moment appear to be Danny Fox (ankle ligament damage) and of course long-term injured, Chris McCann (recovering from cruciate ligament surgery).
Player to watch: John Guidetti
Clarets fans got a brief glimpse of the 18 year old striker on loan from Manchester City when he came on from the bench to make his Burnley debut in the game against the Rams last Saturday. He comes highly rated but didn`t really have much opportunity to shine in the 20 minutes or so he was given, but he still managed to look like an 'old head on young shoulders` and certainly seemed to have enough confidence. Hopefully he will be given a longer opportunity to impress this time and allow Clarets fans a chance to see what a talent we now have in our ranks.
Team & Tactics
It sounds like both Chris Eagles and Martin Paterson could be available for selection and of course the big question also remains on formation. Will Laws now stick with the successful 4-4-2 formation or will he revert back to 4-5-1 at least for the start of this match?
Elliott looked so much more comfortable out on the wing and if Eagles is fit, it would make sense to play him on the opposite flank with Wallace I am afraid drawing the short-straw going back on the bench.
Of the strikers, Jay Rodriguez has been the least impressive in recent games and he should perhaps be dropped back to the bench for a rest. If we are to play 4-4-2, I would select Iwelumo up front with Paterson (if fit). Thompson or the new boy, Guidetti would also be perfectly acceptable options to start this game in partnership with Big Chris but we shall see what Laws has in mind.
It is difficult to know Laws mind and which formation he will go with. He has toyed with 4-4-2 a lot in recent games but has not started that way preferring instead to keep with 4-5-1 using Iwelumo alone up front with Cork or Alexander in holding midfield. The team sheet is therefore quite difficult to predict with Laws having so many options and with virtually the whole squad to choose from (excepting Fox, McCann and the five squad players out on loan)
I will assume that at some point we will play 4-4-2 and if so this is our best 4-4-2 team selection in my opinion:
Grant, Mears, Bikey, Carlisle, Easton, Eagles, Cork, Marney, Elliott, Iwelumo, Paterson (if not fit Guidetti)
Subs: Jensen, Edgar, Duff, Alexander, Wallace, Thompson, Guidetti
Warwickshire referee, Stuart Attwell takes charge of this clash. Attwell has been fast-tracked through the refereeing system, having started in 1998 and promoted to the National List of Referees in 2007. He became the youngest person to referee in the Premier League in August 2008, at 25-years-old, and was confirmed as England`s youngest international Referee when he was named on the FIFA list in December 2008. There is a feeling though in games in which the Clarets have been involved that he still looks naive but that aside so far this season he has featured in eight games, four of them in the Premier League and has handed one red card and a massive 33 yellows. That is an average of just over 4 per match! In one game between Wolves and Newcastle earlier this season twelve yellow cards were dished out by Attwell!
We simply have to string a run together if we are to keep in touch with the top two clubs and that means winning away. Could Pompey be our first victims of the season? Let`s hope so. 2-1 Clarets!
A juicy Wars of the Roses clash next up on Saturday 11th December with Leeds United the visitors to Turf Moor (Kick-Off 3pm). This could be another vital six-pointer with Leeds currently just one place behind us on goal difference.