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Friday, November 30, 2007

Fizzy No. 19 - Burnley(h)

In a post a couple of weeks ago I said how important it was to get to 12 wins under our belt before we travel to 2nd placed West Brom on Dec 15 for Game 22, so that now means once again winning three in a row. In the same post I also said that Preston could give us problems after only losing once at home and Sheff U was going to be easy owing to their 4 away defeats. So, after getting both wrong, you'll be pleased to know that I also forecast that tomorrows game against Burnley would also be a difficult one.
Because working along the same lines, I had noticed that their away record was very good and now, a week on, its even better after their 2-1 win at Watford. All in all they've won 4 away from home at Colchester, Sheff. Wed, Leicester and Watford, drawn at Bristol City and Barnsley and lost at both Scunthorpe and Cardiff. So a record that makes you wonder why they sacked their manager, although a record of only 2 home wins may be the reason. Anyway, with an away record that is the best in the fizzies outside the top 3, it'll give Pards, if he needs it, a stiff challenge to get the team back on course. Oh, and they've also beaten West Brom at home so having beaten the top 2 already in the League they'll be keen to get the scalp of the 3rd best.....
Their recent record reads that they haven't lost in their last 4 away from home and to emphasize their potential they are one of the few teams to have scored more times on their travels than they've conceded.
A little piece of good news is that the history of games between us at the Valley, if you believe in such nonsense, looks very favorable with 14 wins, 7 draws and just 3 defeats although the last loss at home was the last season we were together, so to speak, in 94/95 when they did the double in a relegation season for them, with a 2-1 win at the Valley and 2-0 at their place, wherever that is.

Who They Got?
Well, a new manager for starters. Owen Coyle, ex of St. Johnston, joined just a week ago after the sacking of Steve Cotterill on November 8th after a run of only 1 win in 10 games. Unfortunately for us, they're another team that we meet at apparently the wrong time because since Cotterill left there has been improvement and they have gone the 3 games without losing and only conceded one goal in the process and will no doubt be on a high after winning at Watford. And, of course, the new manager remains unbeaten after the win at Watford and the previous home draw with Stoke City.
On the playing front, Number 10 Andy Gray seems to be the man to watch. Related to the famous Grays of Leeds, he's 6 ft nothing and the top goalscorer with 9 goals in the fizzies, he's started all 17 games and played the most minutes. But he's an old mate of Andy Reid from their Nottingham days so maybe he can give some pointers as to how to stop him. Second highest scorer with 3 goals is the much travelled Nigerian Ade Akinbiyi, now on his 11th club. There's also the winger-cum-midfielder and 34 times-capped Icelander Joey Gudjonsson, who scored what proved to be the winner at Watford on Saturday. Captain of the team is the Scot Steven Caldwell but he will miss the game as he is expected to be out for another month with a thigh injury.

Who's Talking?
Well, lot's of people actually and Killer for one, and he gives us all a dose of football logic, if there is such a thing, by recalling Alan Simonsen's words after a 7-1 defeat at Burnley some years ago. "After the match (he said) I can remember Simonsen saying "1-0, 7-0, all it is is one defeat, that is all it is,' and he was so right. It doesn't matter how much you get beaten by, you have time to correct it, and if you've got a good enough manager and players, you can sort it out."

But on the other side of the coin was a comment by Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock after his teams 2-1 defeat to West Brom on Wednesday, "I would think West Brom are nailed-on certainties to go up." while conversely Adrian Boothroyd was apparently furious with Watfords' tepid display against Burnley last weekend, that followed a bad run of only 4 points from 4 games, "It was an awful spectacle, it was absolutely shocking. I thought that when we lost at Barnsley on Saturday that although the result wasn't good there were some aspects of the game which I could be pleased with but not tonight. We were lacklustre and it was like looking at a team of clones."

The Addicks

The adopted 4-5-1 set-up was meet with a similar formation by Sheffield on Tuesday and proved ineffective so Pards reverted at half-time to his beloved 4-4-2 with the introduction of Luke Varney. Things improved and it's perhaps an obvious indication of the team to be used come the weekend.

The defence is also sure to alter with Basey getting a groin strain on Tuesday so its up to Pards to choose beween Mills, Moutaouakil and Powell as the two full-backs. He did include the comment that there was a lack of left-wing attacking play after Mills switched across so perhaps we will see Chrissie Powell's return to the team with Mills at right-back.
Midfield will be choice between Semedo and Holland alongside Reid, ZiZi and Thomas although, and it seems sacrilege to suggest it, there may come a time when our skipper may be asked to have a rest but probably not now. Varney seemed to shine last Tuesday after coming on for the second half so Pards may feel that he earned his place alongside Iwelumo but ultimately it may all depend on what knowledge Pards has of how Burnley will play.

A 1-1 is always the standard cop-out when you haven't got any idea which way a games going to go, but with the absolute need to win games and remove the memory of Tuesday its vital that we get the three points so I'm going for a 1-0 home win.

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