Date:Wednesday December 25 2013
The Riverside Stadium
Boxing Day, Thursday 26th December 2013
Top of the table Clarets travel to the Riverside on Boxing Day knowing that victory over Middlesbrough would see them remain in their lofty position.
The Clarets will be hoping they can bring 2013 to an end in style and remain in top spot before the New Year kicks-off. With QPR losing 1-0 at home to Leicester on Saturday and Burnley defeating local rivals Blackpool 2-1 at Turf Moor, the Clarets were able to leapfrog both clubs back to the top of the table and claim to be Championship leaders on Christmas Day. Burnley lead both automatic promotion rivals now by just one point with QPR just pipping Leicester into second place on goal difference. The Clarets now have 43 points from 21 games. It is certainly tight up there and in-form Derby County are now also coming into contention, they are in 4th spot just three points behind the Clarets but worryingly too they have the same goal difference of plus 18 goals, the joint best in the league with Burnley. The Clarets have two games remaining this year and both involve travelling away. On Sunday they bring 2013 to a close with a tricky game against Wigan in the DW Stadium but first they must shake off the Christmas Pud and try and get some points from their game against Middlesbrough at the Riverside on Boxing Day.
Boro are struggling this season and are currently in 17th spot with 23 points from 21 games worryingly just six points away from the drop zone. They have also suffered one managerial casualty this season due to their poor form. Tony Mowbray departed in October and has since been replaced by Spanish gaffer and former Real Madrid assistant manager, Aitor Karanka. Since his appointment, Boro`s form has marginally improved but they have still lost three of their last six games, winning two and drawing the other. They will however be buoyed up by their 2-0 win at Millwall in their last match and will be looking for their first back-to-back win of the season. The Clarets though have every chance of coming away from the Riverside with something considering relative form. Middlesbrough have won only three of their 11 matches played on home soil this season
Middlesbrough striker Muzzy Carayol (groin), defender Jonathan Woodgate (thigh) and midfielder Grant Leadbitter (illness) look set to face late fitness tests. Former Burnley loan defender Rhys Williams (groin) and full-backs Frazer Richardson (ankle) and Andy Halliday (minor hernia surgery) also look doubtful.
Former Bristol City winger, Albert Adomah is currently Boro`s leading goal scorer with 8 goals so far this season. The 26 year old Ghana international left Ashton Gate and completed his move to Middlesbrough in August this year for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £1,000,000.
Ross Wallace remains the only injured player and he is on track to make a comeback in the early New Year. He continues to recover from surgery a few months back to fix a 'wear and tear` injury to his knee.
Arfield was on fire against Blackpool and of course scored a tremendous goal to ensure Burnley regained the lead and finished up 2-1 victors. He could be too hot to handle for Boro if he puts in a similar performance.
With no new injuries or suspensions to worry about, Sean Dyche looks set to name the same eighteen selected for the Blackpool game at Turf Moor last Saturday
Heaton, Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Kightly, Marney, Jones, Arfield, Ings, Vokes
Subs: Cisak, Lafferty, Long, Stock, Edgar, Stanislas, Treacy
High-profile, Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg gets this Boxing Day clash. So far this season, the County Durham official has handed out 56 yellow cards from his 17 games without sending anybody off. His last game in charge involving the Clarets was our season opener against Bolton at Turf Moor back in August. That 1-1 draw produced just one yellow card!
The Riverside is always a difficult place to go to despite Boro not exactly setting the Championship alight this season. Although it could mean we lose our top spot, I would be very happy with a point and will go for a 1-1 draw.
Games are coming thick and fast over the Christmas period and we bring 2013 to a close with a visit to the DW Stadium to play Wigan Athletic on Sunday 29th December (Kick-Off: 3pm)
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Date:Wednesday December 25 2013
Rumour Mill-How Loe Can You Get? (Tuesday April 15 2014)
Just the Ticket-And Finally Reading! (Monday April 14 2014)
Five Young Pros In, Seven Out! (Monday April 14 2014)
How Did We Lose to Boro? (Monday April 14 2014)
Will the Big Day on Saturday Get Bigger? (Friday April 11 2014)
Rare Oakwell Win Moves Burnley Ever Closer! (Wednesday April 9 2014)
Barnsley for the Burnley Chop at Oakwell? (Monday April 7 2014)
Massive, Massive Point at Vicarage Road! (Sunday April 6 2014)
Nobody is going to catch Burnley now are they? (Saturday April 5 2014)
Turf Titbits (Saturday April 5 2014)
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