Date:Thursday March 20 2014
Saturday 22nd March 2014
Burnley in second spot ten points clear of third placed club, Derby are just ten games away from securing automatic promotion to the top flight. Next they face Charlton at 'The Valley`
At the moment the Clarets can do no wrong! They are undefeated in the Championship in fourteen games and are on a roll. Burnley remain in second spot, ten points clear of their nearest rival with just ten games to go. They are also being helped by a relatively recent loss of form from our main automatic promotion challengers. QPR in fourth spot would have been hoping to reduce Burnley`s lead to seven points in their midweek game-in-hand away to Sheffield Wednesday. Instead they got walloped 3-0 and had a man (Dunne) sent off! It just gets better and better for the Clarets who are ten points clear of both Derby and QPR with all three now having played the same number of games. There are just ten games of the season remaining. You do not have to be a mathematician to work out there are still 30points up for grabs and that automatic promotion is therefore still not yet a given for the Clarets but it now certainly looks like it`s ours to lose! All games are important but the next two coming up both against struggling opposition could really cement our automatic promotion chances We play Doncaster at Turf Moor next Tuesday night but first we travel to 'The Valley` to play Charlton this Saturday.
Charlton had a 1-0 home win over Bournemouth in midweek taking them out of the drop zone. They are now fourth from bottom but do have a three game match advantage over their fellow relegation strugglers. They have 32 points from 33 games and are ahead of third from bottom club Millwall on goal difference but five points behind Doncaster who are one place above them in 20th spot. The Addicks will certainly be keen to relieve their relegation fears and will have been buoyed up by their midweek win, their first under their new gaffer. Earlier this month, Charlton sacked manager Chris Powell with the club firmly rooted at the foot of the division and brought in former Standard Liege boss Jose Riga. That change seems to have given the team a boost and since his appointment they have been unbeaten in three games with two draws and a win. The Clarets though based on their current form and the grit and determination being displayed should be too strong for the hosts and another double could be on the cards following our 3-0 win at Turf Moor back in September. Whatever happens, we know we will still have a comfortable margin over the chasing pack and will remain in that coveted second spot. Happy Days!
Charlton earlier this week re-signed striker Jonathan Obika on loan from Tottenham for the rest of the season. The 23 year old spent the final three months of last term on loan with the Addicks, scoring three goals in 11 appearances. He came on from the bench in the 41st minute in their midweek win at home to Bournemouth and will be hoping to make his first start against the Clarets on Saturday. Long-term absentee full back Chris Solly will remain sidelined with a knee injury but former Clarets defender, Leon Cort has an outside chance of being involved after progress in his recovery from his knee problem.
Church is the leading goalscorer for Charlton this season although he has only notched up seven goals tending to highlight the Addicks problems upfront. Charlton have managed to score just one goal in their last five games and that was their 1-0 winner against Bournemouth at home in midweek scored by Dorian Dervite. Church though is a proven goalscorer and we need to be on our guard. The Welsh international striker still only 25, joined Charlton Athletic from Reading on a two-year contract in August 2013. Whilst at the Madejski, Church notched up 22 goals in 104 appearances for the Royals.
The only bad news in recent times has been the loss of Danny Ings to injury. In the week it was announced that Ings had won the Championship Player of the Year award, the good news was dampened somewhat by injury concerns. Ings picked up the ankle injury in the game away to Birmingham at St Andrews and consequently missed the 2-1 win over Leeds at Turf Moor last Saturday. He has been seeing a specialist and the club seem to be playing down any fears they may have. We will certainly be without him for the next few games so we can fully expect Ashley Barnes to make his second start for the Clarets in the Charlton match. Our only problem now is striker cover and the club have reportedly allowed the gaffer to enter the emergency loan market which closes next Thursday in an effort to find some additional strike power. The latest news on the Ings injury is that he has an ankle ligament problem and was again checked out by the specialist on Wednesday this week. Sean Dyche also confirmed in the evening that the specialist seemed happy with progress and that the injury had responded to treatment. It could be some weeks though before he is fully fit which clearly has to be a concern.
In the absence of Ings, Barnes played his first full game for the Clarets against Leeds at Turf Moor last Saturday linking well with Sam Vokes up front and generally playing quite well especially in the second half. He has a lot to prove with the inevitable comparisons to Danny Ings no doubt being made, let`s hope he can rise to the challenge! He badly needs a goal to give him a boost of confidence so let`s hope he finds the back of the net this Saturday.
There is no news of any fresh injury concerns so with only Ings sidelined Dyche could be tempted to name the same eighteen as the Leeds game. In which case we will line up as follows in 4-4-2:
Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Arfield, Jones, Marney, Wallace, Vokes, Barnes
Subs: Cisak, Lafferty, Long, Edgar, Treacy, Stanislas, Kightly
West Midlands referee, Oliver Langford is in charge of this one and this will actually be only his fourth match involving the Clarets. The last time he was the man-in-the-middle during a Burnley match was earlier this year when we played Brighton at home in January, a game which finished 0-0. Just one yellow card was shown that night but in his 29 games so far this season, four players have been sent off and another 65 have picked up yellow cards.
Things are looking good at this stage but you can never relax in the Championship even when playing opposition that are struggling in the league and suffering poor form. This on paper should be a comfortable victory and I am confident we will be adding another three vital points to the tally. 2-0 Clarets
The run-in comes thick and fast now with Easter also approaching. Nine games after Charlton to try and reach the Promised Land! First up, Doncaster Rovers at Turf Moor on the night of Tuesday 25th March (Kick-Off: 7:45pm) and then first play second with league leaders, Leicester the visitors on Saturday 29th March. The game at Turf Moor is being covered live by Sky Sports and will kick-off early at 12:15pm.
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Date:Thursday March 20 2014
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