Bottle of Claret to Smash Hammers?
Saturday 24th March 2012
High-flying West Ham are the visitors to Turf Moor on Saturday with the Clarets low on confidence and no win now in six games.
The Clarets will have to buck their ideas up if they are to stand any chance of beating third-place West Ham at Turf Moor this Saturday. The shocking performance away to Ipswich on Wednesday night has set the alarm bells off. We were simply woeful in that game with some players clearly not up to the task or even it seemed bothered.
We are simply playing for pride now unless you believe in mathematical miracles with just nine games of the season remaining. Burnley are in 16th spot, eleven points now behind sixth placed club, Middlesbrough. The high spot was probably beating West Ham at Upton Park earlier in the season but getting the double over the Hammers now looks a distant hope despite a recent wobble by the promotion favourites.
Sam Allardyce`s men are currently in third spot still challenging for automatic promotion. They are just two points behind second place Reading with a game in hand. This will clearly be a tough game for the underperforming Clarets unless we can dig deep and find that extra something.
The Hammers could only draw 1-1 against Middlesbrough at Upton Park in midweek and were booed off the pitch by the home crowd. That may give the Clarets some sort of psychological advantage providing we can overcome our own doubts and lack of confidence.
West Ham are rapidly becoming the draw experts. They have only won one of their last six games (2-0 victory away to Cardiff) and remarkably have drawn the other five, In fact they have only picked up a point in each of their last six home games, the last four finishing 1-1! The problem for the Clarets is that their away form is somewhat better. Apart from a 5-1 tonking away to Ipswich recently, they have won three and drawn one so far this year.
Burnley Team News:
Apart from a few players looking jaded, we don`t appear to have any other injury concerns although we await news concerning Danny Ings. It was not clear against Ipswich on Wednesday night if Ings was dropped from the sixteen due to injury or for tactical reasons. He did however limp off in the last minute of the previous game away to Cardiff so there is some natural concern.
Player to watch: Lee Grant
Mr Enigma at the moment! At times superb, other times woeful! Which Grant will turn up on Saturday? It will have to be Mr Superb or we could come unstuck. No team has managed to win by more than two goals against the Clarets all season, a statistic we share with just Reading and believe it or not Pompey! Let`s keep it that way in these difficult times.
West Ham United Team News:
Sam Allardyce does not appear to have any fresh injuries to worry about following the midweek game at home to Boro. If there are any team news announcements we will post these below the article.
Ricardo Vaz Te could be in line for a recall against the Clarets. Big Sam suggests he could be ready in time after picking up a hamstring injury in the recent game at home to Doncaster Rovers three matches ago.
James Tomkins has also recovered from a trapped nerve in his calf and featured in the midweek game against Boro.
Player to watch: Kevin Nolan
29 year old attacking midfielder, Kevin Nolan is West Ham`s joint highest scorer this season with nine goals; an honour he shares with Carlton Cole.
The former Bolton player signed from Newcastle United in June 2011 for an undisclosed fee after agreeing a five year contract. He was promptly made captain following the departure of Matthew Upson to Stoke City.
Team & Tactics:
After that shocking performance against Ipswich on Wednesday night at Portman Road, the gaffer could well be tempted to wring the changes. Stanislas should be dropped after such a passionless, couldn`t-care-less shift on Wednesday night! Having him on the bench might be a reminder he has to wear the badge with pride! McQuoid should return to the starting eleven.
The strikers are simply firing on empty at the moment and the only one who has shown enough skill and desire recently has been Danny Ings. The club are not saying why he did not feature in the Ipswich game although he did limp off late in the previous game away to Cardiff. I hope he is fit enough to play on Saturday and have had to assume he will be in my predicted line-up. Austin will have to start if not, Pato is not playing well enough!
So what do we do at left back? Give Lafferty another chance? He looked tired and off the pace on Wednesday night and was continually exploited by the Ipswich wingers down that flank. Suggest he starts again; we have nothing to lose since the season is effectively over and he needs the experience at this level!
This would be my choice for the sixteen:
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Lafferty, Wallace, Marney, McCann, McQuoid, Rodriguez, Ings
Subs: Jensen, Mee, Bartley, Paterson, Stanislas
West Yorkshire referee, Mark Haywood is in charge in this clash of the Claret and Blue! Remarkably, in his 35 games in charge so far this season, he has not shown a red card yet! He has shown 88 yellows though and five of those came in our game against Middlesbrough at home back in September last year; the last time this referee was in charge of a match involving the Clarets! Ominously too we lost that match 2-0.
Unless Burnley can find that inner reserve from somewhere and reverse recent poor performances, West Ham on the automatic promotion hunt will be far too strong for a side with only pride to play for. 3-1 Hammers and I can`t wait for this frustrating and very disappointing season to come to a close.
Portsmouth away on Saturday 31st March, assuming Pompey are still in existence by then! (Kick-Off: 3pm)