Three big points at stake as Cardiff come to Turf Moor
For week’s tomorrow’s game against Cardiff City has been earmarked by supporters as the key game in our fight against the drop from the Premier League. It is, but we are in a much more comfortable position than we were the last time I wrote a preview for a home game.
Two weeks ago we went into our home game with Wolves just two points ahead of Cardiff who were occupying the final relegation place and they had a game in hand on us. Things have changed since. They still have a game in hand but we’ve extended the advantage to eight points with wins against Wolves and Bournemouth and, for good measure, Fulham and Huddersfield have both had their relegations confirmed.
We’ve dropped a place in the table tonight with Newcastle’s win at Leicester during which Jamie Carragher suggested, presumably without studying the table, that the final relegation place was between us and Cardiff.
A win would be priceless tomorrow and even a draw would be a damn good result in terms of the relegation situation and I didn’t think I’d be writing anything like that after we’d been beaten by Everton on Boxing Day. We were in a terrible mess with just 12 points at the half way stage. Our return of 24 points since is the second most we’ve ever had in a half of a Premier League season, behind only the first half of last season.
It doesn’t mean we are safe but I wouldn’t have thought we’d need too many more points to reach safety, but we know how tough the fixtures are ahead and the sooner we get those points the better, and there would be no better time than tomorrow against the side who now have the most difficult task of all to avoid dropping with the already relegated pair.
I suggested even a draw would be a good result and there have been plenty of those between the two sides in recent years. The last six home games against them have all finished level and there have also been three draws in Cardiff during the same period.
We won there this season but the last home win against them came just over 12 years ago, on Easter Monday 2007 when goals from Steve Jones and Paul McVeigh gave us a 2-0 win. If you want a good omen, it provided us with a third successive win.
Last week, Matt Lowton returned the side for his first league appearance of the year. He’d lost his place to Phil Bardsley who, having avoided a two match ban in not being carded against Wolves, then landed himself with a break following a training ground accident playing head tennis.
Lowton did well on his return and the full back who arrived at Burnley from Aston Villa in the summer of 2015 said: “I have enjoyed every minute since I’ve been here, and I just want to play as many games as I can for the club and keep contributing. It was nice to be back in, it’s been a while. It’s always frustrating when you’re not playing but Bardo has been playing brilliantly of late so there’s nothing to complain about. ”
Looking forward to tomorrow, he said: “It is just another game on one hand, and we have to prepare how we have for every other game, looking at their weaknesses and our strengths and things like that, but when it comes to the crunch time of the season and games like this that are crucial to pulling away from them and the other teams, it’s massive, so we have to make sure we’re right on it with the right attitude to go out there, not all guns blazing, but calm as we have been in the last few weeks and hopefully take care of ourselves.”
Sean Dyche said that Phil Bardsley was touch and go and in Dyche speak that usually means he’s ruled out. He’s also got Peter Crouch out and it is doubtful he’ll figure again this season. The long termers Steven Defour and Aaron Lennon remain out although Lennon is getting closer to fitness and, it has been said this week, could feature before the end of the season.
I don’t see the team changing from last week so we should line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.
Cardiff came up last season in second place with 90 points but it has never been an easy season for them and they’ve not often ventured away from the lower positions in the table. The highest position they reached was 14th in early December.
At home, they’ve done as well as us; we’ve both picked up 20 points from home games but they’ve only been able to add eight on the road from wins at Leicester and Southampton to add to goalless draws at Huddersfield and Crystal Palace.
They’ve struggled at times to score goals but one player we need to keep a keen eye on is Victor Camarasa (pictured) who is on loan from Real Betis. He’s their leading goalscorer with five while they have three players to have scored four goals. Bobby Reid, signed from Bristol City, is one of them but the other two, Sol Bamba and Callum Paterson, are now both ruled out for the rest of the season.
They have no other injuries and Neil Warnock will have the same players to select from as he did in their last game against Manchester City. Their team that night was: Neil Etheridge, Lee Peltier, Joe Bennett, Sean Morrison, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Joe Ralls, Victor Camarasa (Bobby Reid), Aron Gunnarsson (Leandro Bacuna), Josh Murphy (Nathaniel Mendez-Laing), Junior Hoilett, Oumar Niasse. Subs not used: Brian Murphy, Greg Cunningham, Kadeem Harris, Kenneth Zohore.
Warnock left loan player Harry Arter out of the side that night but he’s expected to return tomorrow.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
It was the last of the six successive draws and this was a goalless draw that left us one point ahead of Middlesbrough at the top of the Championship with just six games remaining.
We’d drawn 2-2 at Cardiff earlier this season, coming from two goals behind to earn a point with two late goals from Rouwen Hennings, his only league goal for Burnley< and a Matthew Connolly own goal but there was to be little excitement in this encounter.
His free kick was met by Sam Vokes whose downward header looked to be going in until David Marshall made an outstanding save and got it away for a corner. Ashley Barnes headed Taylor’s corner towards goal but again Marshall made an outstanding save to deny us.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield (Matt Taylor 67), Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Ashley Barnes 75). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Dean Marney, Michael Kightly.
Cardiff: David Marshall, Lee Peltier, Sean Morrison, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Scott Malone, Tom Lawrence (Craig Noone 83), Stuart O’Keefe (Kenneth Zohore 83), Kagisho Dikgacoi, Joe Ralls, Anthony Pilkington (Aron Gunnarsson 67), Lex Immers. Subs not used: Simon Moore, Fabio Da Silva, Pete Whittingham, Sammy Ameobi.Share this page :