Up Pompey...The Prologue at the 2nd Attempt
Tuesday 25th January 2011
Ooh er missus! The Clarets travel to Fratton Park on Tuesday night to play Portsmouth in the rearranged fixture following the postponement of the match last month due to snow and ice.
Burnley go into this game at Fratton Park knowing they have only managed to win just one on the road all season. 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 Tuesday night.
Eddie Howe will be keen to get his first win on the board after becoming our new manager and getting a point away to Scunthorpe in his first game in charge last Saturday.
It is vital we start picking up points away from home with the club currently 11th in the league with 37 points from 26 games. We are already drifting away from the play-offs slots and are now six points behind the club in 6th place, Nottingham Forest having also played the same number of games. We do though currently have games in hand over all the top five clubs but automatic promotion is now looking a forlorn hope.
After league leader`s QPR`s victory over Coventry today (Sunday), they are now 15 points clear of the Clarets albeit having played a game more. Cardiff are currently second on goal difference sharing the same number of points as both Norwich and Swansea with all three clubs ten points clear of Burnley although the Clarets do have games in hand over them.
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 in 18th spot just six points behind the Clarets. So they will be keen to narrow that to just three and start to move away from the drop-zone. They are currently five points clear of a relegation place which is a bit too close for comfort.
Their recent form has somewhat slipped a bit though since they were mid-table at the time this fixture was originally intended to be played despite making a poor start to the season. Pompey have not won now in six games although have picked up three draws. Their home form too is somewhat inconsistent; they have only won one but have drawn three of their last six home games.
Portsmouth Team News:
Portsmouth's already threadbare squad has been weakened further by the absence of skipper Aaron Mokoena.
The South African defender started a two-game ban after collecting his 10th yellow card of the season at Nottingham Forest two weeks ago. He has already missed the Leeds game and will complete his ban by sitting out the Burnley clash.
Pompey are also still without striker Dave Kitson who is also banned after picking up a red card in their recent 3-1 FA Cup defeat away to Brighton. He will be available after the Burnley game.
Defender Ricardo Rocha has been on the bench recently despite hamstring trouble and could be called upon to start.
Danny Webber (cruciate) is still sidelined and both Richard Hughes and Michael Brown are unable to due to contract issues.
Pompey have struggled to even put out a full eighteen this season and in some cases could only muster four substitutes. This has more to do with the fact that they only have 21 squad players due to their financial predicament rather than injuries and suspensions although obviously they will take their toll even more in such a small squad.
Pompey do not appear to have any fresh injury worries at the moment and managed to put out six substitutes in their last game. If we hear any news we will bring it to you below this 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.
He currently shares being Pompey`s top scorer with Republic of Ireland international winger, Liam Lawrence. Both have scored 8 goals this season including seven in the League.
Burnley Team News:
There was some potential good news this week concerning Chris McCann. The midfielder has been recovering from corrective surgery to fix his cruciate ligament problem for some months now. His last game was just under a year ago away to Bolton in the Premier League fixture last January. McCann has been training for some time now but has not been allowed to train competitively avoiding contact with other players. He is to see a specialist on the 1st February with the hope he can now step up his training schedule. He is not expected to return though for another one-two months.
Martin Paterson is another player who has struggled with injury this season. He has been out of action with a niggling thigh problem since being brought off at half-time in our home against Doncaster Rovers back in November. We are continually being told he is a week away from returning but it never seems to happen for him. It is thought he might now be ready and match fit in time for our FA Cup clash on Saturday against Burton Albion.
Clarke Carlisle is now another worry after injuring his knee in the first half against Scunthorpe on Saturday. He soldiered on but the injury tightened up in the dressing room at half-time and he was substituted by Bikey. We await news on his injury from the club.
The club also announced over the weekend that Steven Thompson would be seeing a specialist this week concerning a niggling groin injury.
Player to watch: Jay Rodriguez
Jay has seemed a little off-form of late and needs to get back on the goal sheet. A goal could do him a power of good!
Team & Tactics
There is no doubt in my mind that Howe should start with the same tactics and formation that we adopted eventually in the second half against Scunthorpe. That would mean 4-4-2 with Eagles and Elliott on the flanks supporting Iwelumo and Rodriguez up front. Carlisle might not make it if his knee injury keeps him sidelined but this will be another ideal opportunity for Andre Bikey to impress the new gaffer in the centre of defence after coming on to replace Carlisle in the second-half against the Iron.
I feel a little bit sorry too that Easton appears to have lost his place to Fox but suspect the Scot will have to be content with a place on the bench again.
I also wonder if Howe has made any progress in trying to get Brian Jensen to reconsider his transfer request. I have to say Grant at times looks a liability. He was flapping and parrying at the wrong time again on occasions at Glanford Park. I suspect though after suddenly keeping two clean sheets on the trot despite failing to do so prior to that since replacing The Beast back in October , Grant will once again start the match.
If we play 4-4-2 expect something like the following line-up:
Grant, Mears, Bikey (or Carlisle if fit), Duff, Fox, Eagles, Cort, Marney, Elliott, Iwelumo, Rodriguez
Subs: Jensen, Easton, Edgar, Bikey or Carlisle (if fit), Alexander, Wallace, Thompson
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 14 games, six of them in the Premier League and has handed out two red cards and a massive 49 yellows. That is an average of about 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 of the play-off positions and that means winning away. Could Pompey become our second victims of the season? Let`s hope so. 2-1 Clarets!
We take a break from the Championship this Saturday ( 29th January) to focus on the FA Cup 4th Round with struggling League 2 side, Burton Albion the visitors to Turf Moor (Kick-Off 3pm).
Three days later on the night of Tuesday 1st February we continue our hectic schedule with a league game away to Doncaster Rovers (7:45pm Kick-Off)