The Battle of the Similar B-Teams
Saturday 29th October 2011
The Clarets return to Championship duty this Saturday with a juicy local derby at home against Blackpool. This will also be a Sky live televised game with a later kick-off at 5:20pm.
The Clarets will be hoping to maintain their new found form in the Championship on Saturday after picking up three valuable points away from home against Coventry City in their league game last Saturday. They have had a bit of a setback in midweek after being knocked out of the Carling Cup following a 1-0 away defeat to Cardiff but hopefully then can put that behind them and now focus again on their Championship campaign.
Their next challenge will be to defeat local rivals Blackpool on their home soil this Saturday. It will certainly be high-profile as far as the fans are concerned and we will be on show to a wider football audience as well with the game being televised live by Sky (Kick-Off-5:20pm).
Burnley and Blackpool not only share the same town initial but also have a remarkably similar recent history. Burnley like Blackpool both enjoyed a recent promotion to the top flight. Both had a pretty impressive start to Premier League life, both led by charismatic characters in Owen Coyle and Ian Holloway. Both clubs however decided to plead poverty and did not invest in their Premier League survival with one predictable consequence! Both were relegated after just one season in the Premier League! There was only one major difference in that Blackpool did not suffer the upheaval of losing a high-profile manager half-way through the season. At the moment, Blackpool look like continuing to follow the Clarets by becoming quickly established as a mid-table club in the Championship again, something which is clearly disappointing to both sets of fans.
The Clarets are in no man`s land at the moment with` inconsistent` being the word used most often to describe their recent performances. They are currently in 17th spot with 15 points from 12 games and how you review that situation depends on whether you are a 'glass half-full` or 'glass half-empty` type of fan! We do actually have a game in hand over most of our rivals with that match away to Birmingham coming up later in November. You need to bear that in mind but at the moment we are six points away from the play-offs spots but equally just five points off the drop-zone, so things could go either way. We simply have to start winning at home convincingly though if we are to progress in the right direction and begin to challenge for promotion.
Three points against Ian Holloway`s men on Saturday though would be a great boost for every Clarets fan especially with a very busy November schedule coming up in which we play six games. We have a Saturday and Tuesday night game every week in November except for yet another International break so the month could really make or break our season.
Burnley are currently just four points behind Blackpool with that game in hand so a victory against last season`s Premier League boys could be just the tonic we need to begin to believe again. Blackpool, currently in 12th spot may have been expecting to be higher at this stage although they are currently only two points off the play- offs spots. The Tangerines too have been suffering from inconsistency though and in their last six league games have only picked up two wins and one draw having lost three. In terms of their form on the road, they got tonked 4-0 by high-flying West Ham in their last away match and have only won one of the remaining five although they have drawn three games. The scene is set for a closely fought battle. Up the Clarets!
Burnley Team News:
There is no news of any fresh injury concerns following the Carling Cup game against Cardiff on Tuesday night and we have not picked up any suspensions. Eddie Howe mentioned in his post-match interview after the Cardiff defeat that Marvin Bartley had been carrying a back injury and Ross Wallace had been suffering a tight hamstring which is why they were dropped to the bench. Although they both came on the gaffer didn`t feel they were able to play 90 minutes. Hopefully they will have time to have recovered by Saturday`s game.
It is still too soon though for Martin Paterson (thigh) and Michael Duff (knee). Danny Ings (cartilage) and Brian Jensen (groin) are also still sidelined.
Player to watch: Ben Mee
The on-loan Manchester City defender, Ben Mee looks to be back in favour after making an appearance from the bench in our last league game away to Coventry and making a start against Cardiff in the Carling Cup clash on Tuesday night. He had been sidelined since being knocked unconscious in the match against Peterborough at London Road last month. Following his recovery, he found himself on the bench having lost his place to Andre Amougou. Amougou, rather than Edgar is the one that has since lost out to Mee in the last two games so perhaps we can expect a Mee/Edgar centre pairing to start on Saturday. With centre back Michael Duff also expected to have made a complete recovery in the next two weeks or so, there could be a lot of competition soon for the centre back positions. All eyes for the moment though could be on Ben Mee with a view to deciding who he should partner!
Blackpool Team News:
Ian Holloway`s team has not played in midweek unlike the Clarets so any minor niggles will have had time to probably heal and they could have the advantage of being more rested and refreshed. There is no news of any new injuries so Holloway would appear to have a full squad to choose from.
Player to watch: Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips may be getting long-in-the-tooth now at the age of 38 but the former Birmingham City striker is still finding the back of the net. Phillips left Brum when his contract expired at the end of last season and signed for newly-relegated, Blackpool in July 2009 agreeing a one year deal. He is now currently, Blackpool`s leading goal scorer having put away six goals in 13 appearances for the club this season.
Team & Tactics:
With no suspensions and no news of any fresh injuries following the Cardiff game on Tuesday night, Eddie Howe looks to have the same pool of players to choose from. Howe changed things around for the Carling Cup game with mixed results. Dean Marney, Alex MacDonald, Ben Mee and Zavon Hines, all made the starting eleven against the Bluebirds although the substitutions in the second half gave the team more shape and we can probably expect Ross Wallace, Marvin Bartley and Charlie Austin to return to the starting eleven against Blackpool. Ben Mee though could be in line to start again probably at the expense of Amougou who seems to be out of favour once more. He was on the bench on Tuesday night and failed to make an appearance. The centre back pairing of Edgar and Mee looks the most likely selection but I am not sure this is our best combination. Amougou may be inconsistent and be prone to momentary lapses of reason but the truth still remains he is the best defender we currently have in the back four and is the one most likely to help our attack and score goals from set-pieces. I would try Mee and Amougou together to be honest but I don`t think Howe will see it that way.
Junior Stanislas will also be available after being cup-tied against Cardiff but will he be named in the starting eleven? He has been less than impressive in recent games so he could be a casualty on Saturday and find himself back on the bench unless Howe has another experimental tactic in mind involving playing him out of position in a centre midfield role or playing him in the hole behind a striker. I think to be honest Stanislas will be on the bench with Treacy and Wallace being named as our orthodox wingers.
My predicted sixteen as opposed to my preferred sixteen therefore is as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Mee, Edgar, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Bartley, Treacy, Rodriguez, Austin
Subs: Stewart, Amougou, Marney, Stanislas, Hines
Premier League referee, Michael Oliver (Northumberland) gets this local derby. He has only been in charge of eight games so far this season handing out 28 yellows but just one red card! That red card along with another seven yellows came in a Premier League game recently between QPR and Aston Villa at Loftus Road. Oliver was promoted to the Select Group of Referees in 2010. Later that year he became the youngest-ever referee to take charge of a Premier League game.
I don`t think the 1-0 defeat at Cardiff in midweek which ended our Carling Cup campaign will have much bearing in terms of the team confidence against Blackpool on Saturday. Hopefully they will be more buoyed up by their last league game when they beat Coventry City 2-1 at the Ricoh the Saturday before and be determined to progress up the league table and start to more away from the bottom half of the table and nearer the play-offs spots. If the team that beat Forest at home and Millwall and Coventry away turn up, we could give the Blackpool fans a bit of a shock and turn their team over. Let`s plump for a 3-1 Clarets victory!
The busy November schedule begins for the Clarets with a home game on the night of Tuesday 1st November against the now Sven-less Leicester City (Kick-Off-7:45pm)