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Burnley’s tough run of fixtures continues tonight with a visit to Hillsborough to face a Sheffield Wednesday team who are, right now, one of the in form teams in the Championship.

Both teams picked up ten points from four games in January, both won an FA Cup 3rd round tie and both went out last Saturday in the 4th round albeit we lost at Arsenal whereas Sheffield Wednesday were beaten at home by Shrewsbury.

There had been a lot of criticism for much of December. We were struggling to score goals and went on a run of six league games without a win. By the end of the month the goals were going in, with us hitting four in the home games against Charlton and Bristol City, and that’s continued into January.

Despite a shut out in the first match of 2016 against Ipswich, we’ve gone on to score twelve goals in three league games and added three more in two tough cup ties at Middlesbrough and Arsenal.

Scott Arfield says the belief is flowing through the squad
Scott Arfield says the belief is flowing through the squad

We’ve had an incredible eight different scorers in those games, nine if you include Richard Keogh, with Sam Vokes leading the way with three of them including one from the penalty spot.

Sam was again on top of his game at Arsenal on Saturday and I think he’s probably just enjoyed his best month since returning to the side following his cruciate ligament injury. He scored the key second goal in the first minute of the second half at MK, converted a penalty in the home win against Derby and gave us real hope when he equalised at Arsenal.

Another player to start finding the net recently is Scott Arfield. Until the week before Christmas his only goal was the winner at Blackburn, although the word only hardly fits. He’s moved that on now and has taken his total to six.

Ahead of tonight’s game, he said: “The week presents a massive challenge for us and none more so than tonight for us, as they are putting money into that squad and possess terrific players in that team.

“I think it shows, with the addition of Forestieri and Hooper into the squad, exactly what they are trying to do to get out of this league, but it’s up to us to try and get the three points from the game.”

He added: “I think we are confident of getting a result as the belief is flowing through the squad. The goals are coming from every direction at the moment and we are a force to be reckoned with. When you look at our team we have a lot of ability and I think it is up to us, as midfielders, to support the front two strikers.”

Sean Dyche left out both Matt Lowton and Joey Barton for the cup tie, but I expect them both to come straight back in.

New signing James Tarkowski is unavailable with the transfer not having gone through in time and Dean Marney remains doubtful with the calf injury that has been troubling him in recent weeks.

I think our team will be: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Fredrik Ulvestad, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Rouwen Hennings.

I’m not sure many knew what to expect from Wednesday this season. They are under new ownership and Stuart Gray was replaced by the virtually unknown Carlos Carvalhal as manager. It looked a recipe for disaster but it has certainly not turned out that way and they are real promotion contenders.

They beat Bristol City on the opening day of the season but then failed to win any of their next six league games. to leave them hovering close to the drop zone, but things quickly changed. A run of five win and two draws in the next seven lifted them to within a whisker of the top six and that’s where they remain with only two defeats in the last twelve games.

They are very strong at home where they have scored 27 goals. Only leaders Hull and Burnley have more than that total in home games. They’ve lost only once at Hillsborough and that was back in August when Middlesbrough beat them 3-1.

They’ve got a real goal threat. Fernando Forestieri, who made his Wednesday debut against us earlier in the season, leads the way with eleven goals whilst Gary Hooper has scored seven. Hooper initially signed on loan but has now made his move from Norwich a permanent one.

Hooper was one of four January signings and you would suggest they’ve done more than most to strengthen their squad with the additional signings of Jack Hunt from Crystal Palace and loan deals for Aston Villa’s Joe Bennett and Everton’s Aiden McGeady who arrived yesterday.

Their last league game was a 1-1 draw at Reading. The team that day was: Keiren Westwood, Sam Hutchinson, Glenn Loovens, Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee, Vincent Sasso, Jack Hunt, Ross Wallace, Daniel Pudil, Barry Bannan, Fernando Forestieri. Subs: Lewis Price, Liam Palmer, Jose Semedo, Atdhe Nuhiu, Joe Bennett, Jeremy Helan, Eduardo Lucas Joao.




It seems a long time since we were at Hillsborough. We have to go back to the first away league game of the 2013/14 season. The dolphins turned up in large numbers and the game was a sign of things to come that season when Danny Ings and Sam Vokes scored in a 2-1 win.

Burnley, undoubtedly, started the better of the two teams and Vokes had a couple of chances before we did take the lead. Kieran Trippier played the ball down the right for Ross Wallace. The Scot, who’s is likely to play against us tonight, got down the flank, turned inside and crossed for Ings to head home.

Just five minutes later and that lead was doubled. It was the same double act down the right but this time it was Trippier who crossed and Vokes who headed home.

Sam Vokes heads home the second goal
Sam Vokes heads home the second goal

It had been a superb opening to the game from the Clarets. We fully deserved the lead with both goals going in at the Leppins Lane end of the ground, right in front of the Burnley fans.

It was clear things would change in the second half and so they did as Wednesday opted for a more direct approach, leaving us to deal with a barrage of high balls into our box. We defended them superbly and might have even increased our lead on a couple of occasions.

Then suddenly, two pieces of play, might have changed things. Everyone in the ground, other than referee David Webb, saw a handball that should have given us a penalty. He incredibly waved it away and Wednesday broke for David Prutton to head home a cross from the right.

Such was the way they were playing, Wallace was removed for David Edgar to come on as more and more high balls arrived. But we defended everyone of them and took the points with this 2-1 win.

That was four points from the opening two games, we’d drawn at home against Bolton. I considered it a good start.

The teams were;

Sheffield Wednesday: Chris Kirkland, Liam Palmer, Kamil Zayatte, Anthony Gardner, Rafael Floro, (Chris Maguire ht), Jacques Maghoma (Caolan Lavery 82), David Prutton, Jose Semedo, Jeremy Helan, Atdhe Nuhiu, Michail Antonio. Subs not used: Adam Davies, Miguel Llera, Martin Taylor, Corry, McCabe.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Kevin Long, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, Ross Wallace (David Edgar 74), Dean Marney, David Jones, Junior Stanislas (Scott Arfield 34), Danny Ings, Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Ben Mee, Brian Stock, Keith Treacy, Ryan Noble.

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