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Burnley’s 45th league game of the season will kick off tomorrow tea time at 4:45 p.m. as the Sky cameras roll into Turf Moor again for a crucial game at the top of the Championship.

The whole week has been taken up with different scenarios depending on the results of Middlesbrough, then Brighton and finally Burnley over the penultimate weekend of the season after we all ended last week level on 87 points with us leading the way with the slightly better goal difference.

I’d said all along that, with Middlesbrough playing Brighton next week, I’d be happy if we all won this weekend and we all went into the last day on 90 points. That would have left us, in all likelihood, needing no more than a point at Charlton.

Sky have split us up again, as they did last week, and I reckon if you go first you really do have to get that win to put the other two under pressure. That’s exactly what we did last week at Preston and then sat back delighted as Middlesbrough dropped points.

We just need to get the job done
We just need to get the job done

It was Middlesbrough’s turn to go first this weekend and they have dropped two more points. It’s taken them to the top of the league, one point ahead of us and Brighton, but we’ll certainly be hoping to get back above them with a two point lead by this time tomorrow.

Should we win, and should Brighton not beat Derby earlier tomorrow, we will be promoted at the final whistle, but that’s not anything to think about right now, it’s all down to what we do and, as Sean Dyche tells us, we can’t affect anything else.

I’ve surprised myself with how calm I’ve been this week but that was until Friday when I watched the Birmingham v Middlesbrough game. I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow and the wait for kick off will including enduring the ninety minutes at the Amex where we hope Derby can do us a similar favour.

Having said that, this is why we watch football. We want our team to do well and we want them to be up there at the top of the league towards the end of the season. So I reckon the best thing to do is just go and enjoy it.

It is very much in our own hands and I should just concentrate on what we do at what should be a full, vibrant and loud Turf Moor other than the visiting section which I assume will be virtually empty.

Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson has said in the tiresome Teesside Gazette that he won’t be watching either game. Burnley’s Ben Mee did admit that he would probably watch last Friday’s game when he spoke that afternoon.

The Supporters Clubs Player of the Year said: “I’ll have a look at the results on Friday and probably watch the game, but I guess it is in our hands still.”

Whether he did or not I don’t know, but I do know that Ben was out watching football yesterday afternoon taking in the play-off final between Salford City and Workington at Moor Lane yesterday that clinched promotion to the National League North for Salford.

It’s tomorrow for him and the team now and he added: “We are looking forward to Monday. It’s a long wait and you just want to get it here and now. I’ve enjoyed the season as a whole, and obviously at the minute it’s going really well for us. Now we just need to get the job done.

I don’t expect much in the way of change for Burnley. The news on Tuesday at the player of the year evening was that Dean Marney had suffered with cramp at the end of the game at Preston but on Friday Sean Dyche said: “We are keeping tabs on Dean, who had a minor stretch on his hamstring in the last game against Preston. But he’s going well at the moment, so we will see what the next couple of days bring.”

If Marney is ruled out then David Jones, who came on for him in stoppage time at Deepdale, will replace him with Fredrik Ulvestad the likely addition to the bench.

If he is fit then I expect us to line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Dean Marney, Joey Barton, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, David Jones, Matt Taylor, Lloyd Dyer, Ashley Barnes.

Two years ago, QPR went up with us and Leicester, beating Derby with a last minute goal in the play-off final. A year ago we both came back down together, this time with Hull, QPR finishing bottom of the league with us one place ahead of them.

However, they haven’t made the same impact in the Championship as us and are the lowest placed of the three who went down last season. They are currently in 13th place with 57 points, a mid table position some 17 points away from the play-off places but also a healthy 17 points clear of relegation.

Their season has also seen them make a change of manager with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink leaving Burton Albion to replace Chris Ramsey who had left a month earlier. The new manager’s first game in charge was their 0-0 home draw against us a couple of weeks before Christmas.

They’ve picked up 31 of those points under Hasselbaink in 25 games and that’s included just one win on the road at Rotherham but they are difficult to beat away from home and have lost only three times at Ipswich, MK and Brighton with eight games drawn.

Their leading goalscorer is Tjaronn Chery. He’s scored ten league goals with his last, at Leeds at the start of this month, taking him past the nine scored by former Claret Charlie Austin who left for Southampton at the end of the last transfer window.

They’ve nothing but pride to play for now, but that can often leave a team relaxed and more dangerous, as they face us and then end their season with a home game against Bristol City prior to re-organising in the summer to push for a promotion place in a year’s time.

They have a full strength squad to select from other than Jamie Mackie who suffered a hamstring injury four weeks ago in that game at Leeds.

Goalkeeper Matt Ingram, signed from Wycombe in January, has played the last two games and has impressed. He’s expected to keep his place.

Their last game was a 1-1 home draw against Reading when they lined up: Matt Ingram, James Perch, Nedum Onuoha, Grant Hall, Cole Kpekawa, Massimo Luongo, Alejandro Faurlin, Ben Gladwin, Tjaronn Chery, Matt Phillips, Sebastian Polter. Subs: Joe Lumley, Clint Hill, Conor Washington, Abdenasser El Khayati, Junior Hoilett, Samba Diakite, Michael Petrasso.




QPR’s last visit to Turf Moor was our first home league game of 2015 and ended in a 2-1 win for the Clarets with all of the goals coming in the first half.

Throughout this season we’ve heard time and time again that we have kept virtually all our Premier League team together, but when you look back at this game you will see that is simply not the case. Kieran Trippier, Jason Shackell and Danny Ings all went while Dean Marney and Ashley Barnes are only just returning after suffering cruciate ligament injuries.

It was Scott Arfield, one of the players still in the line up, who gave us the lead just twelve minutes in and what a good goal it was. This was Arfield’s first goal since the opening game against Chelsea. He nutmegged two QPR defenders before curling a superb effort into the far corner of the net past Rob Green. Sean Dyche was certainly enthusing about it. “If Alexis Sanchez had scored that, it is shown 100 times over the weekend,” he said.

A superb opening goal from Scott Arfield
A superb opening goal from Scott Arfield

We knew they had a threat up front in Charlie Austin. He’d scored against us in the game at Loftus Road and was close in this one when he saw an effort hit the post. But we were the better side and, that apart, they didn’t look like scoring.

But Austin won himself a penalty against Marney just past the half hour and our good start had come to nothing when he took it himself and equalised. Within a couple of minutes we were close to going behind when Tom Heaton saved well from Eduardo Vargas but almost immediately we were back in front.

Barnes played the ball forward for Ings who controlled the ball superbly. He shifted it away from Stephen Caulker, avoided Richard Dunne and then placed his shot past Green, a goal almost on a par with the first one.

A 2-1 lead at half time and QPR didn’t threaten us at all in a second half we dominated. We really should have stretched the lead and on one occasion did through Barnes only for the goal to be ruled out when television pictures showed it was Clint Hill fouling Barnes and not the other way round.

But a win it was and one that moved us out of the bottom three in the table. It was a third successive game without defeat following on from the draws at Manchester City and Newcastle.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Dean Marney, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 73). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Duff, Ross Wallace, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz.

QPR: Rob Green, Mauricio Isla, Richard Dunne, Steven Caulker, Clint Hill (Armand Traore 75), Eduardo Vargas (Mauro Zarate 76), Joey Barton, Karl Henry (Bobby Zamora 69), Leroy Fer, Adel Taarabt, Charlie Austin. Subs not used: Alex McCarthy, Nedum Onuoha, Jordon Mutch, Matt Phillips.

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