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Game of the Weekend Preview: Burnley vs Middlesbrough

8 September 2011 by

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME OF THE WEEKEND 

Burnley v Middlesbrough – Saturday 10th September 2011 – 3.00 pm kick-off

Last time the sides met

Burnley 3-1 Middlesbrough (Tuesday 19th April 2011)

Rodriguez (22),     Taylor (81)

Elliott (23),

Duff (37)

The Lowdown

Saturday’s clash between Burnley and Middlesbrough promises to be an intriguing affair between two clubs who love to play attractive football. The away side have made an impressive start to the season with four victories out of seven. Former Boro legend Tony Mowbray has turned the club’s fortunes around, as they looked set for a relegation battle under previous manager Gordon Strachan. Whilst Burnley fans are grateful that Eddie Howe decided to leave his beloved Bournemouth for Turf Moor in January. They lost patience with Brian Laws and this managerial change gave the Clarets impetus to push on for the following season. Victory on Saturday could spring Howe’s side into 6th place, depending on other results.

Burnley 

Recent Results & Overall Attendances:

Derby County 1-2 Burnley (W) – 23,913

Burnley 3-2 Barnet (W) – 4,273

Burnley 1-1 Cardiff City (D) – 13,428

Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley (L) – 13, 167

Burnley 6-3 Burton Albion (W) – 4,069

Burnley 2-2 Watford (D) – 14,617

Having suffered relegation from the Barclays Premier League in 2010, Burnley continue to believe that they can reclaim their place amongst the elite at the second attempt. Club chairman Barry Kilby’s prudent approach has ensured financial stability that debt-ridden clubs can only dream of. However, plenty of critics sighted the club’s lack of ambition as costing Burnley their Premier League place. Kilby was unable to retain Owen Coyle’s services, replacing him with the recently sacked Brian Laws from Sheffield Wednesday. Relegation ensured the inevitable departures of Chris Eagles, Tyrone Mears, Chris Iwelumo and most recently Wade Elliott.

On their day, the Clarets have enough ammunition to hurt any team in the division and they have strengthened well this summer, recruiting young defenders Ben Mee and Keith Trippier on loan from Manchester City. Keith Treacy opened his goalscoring account with a late equaliser against Watford and offers plenty of creativity from either flank. Whilst former West Ham United academy products Zavon Hines and Junior Stanislas both have Premier League experience and can progress with regular first team football under their belts.

Eddie Howe will hope that the Clarets can turn the draws at home into victories, having dropped points against Watford and Cardiff City at Turf Moor. Victory on Saturday would ensure their first home win of the season and confidence will be soaring after their win at Pride Park.

Expected Starting Line-Up

                                                              B.Jensen (GK)

K.Trippier (RB)               B.Mee (CB)                       D.Edgar (CB)               B.Easton (LB)              

K.Treacy (RM)               C.McCann (CM)                D.Marney (CM)            R.Wallace (LM)

                                          C.Austin (ST)                   J.Rodriguez (ST)

Next 6 League Fixtures:

Peterborough (A) – Saturday 17th September, 3.00pm

Southampton (H) – Saturday 24th September, 3.00pm

Nottingham Forest (H) – Tuesday 27th September, 7.45pm

Millwall (A) – Saturday 1st October, 3.00pm

Reading (H) – Saturday 15th October, 3.00pm

Barnsley (A) – Tuesday 18th October, 7.45pm

Middlesbrough 

Recent Results & Overall Attendances:

Middlesbrough 1-1 Coventry City (D) – 17,432

Peterborough 0-2 Middlesbrough (W) – 5,012

Middlesbrough 3-1 Birmingham City (W) – 17,567

Barnsley 1-3 Middlesbrough (W) – 10,603

Leeds United 0-1 Middlesbrough (W) – 25,650

Walsall 0-3 Middlesbrough (W) – 3,564

Middlesbrough 2-2 Portsmouth (D) – 18,196

Like Burnley, Middlesbrough have also been recently relegated from the Premier League and suffered a huge hangover. Gareth Southgate’s dismissal came as a result of dissatisfaction amongst the supporters, whilst Gordon Strachan brought too many players from the Scottish leagues that simply weren’t up to the task. Owner Steve Gibson seems to have finally got the right man in Tony Mowbray, and the club appear to be heading in the right direction. Boro only lost 1 of their last 16 fixtures ensuring a respectable 12th place finish that completed Mowbray’s transformation.

Middlesbrough managed to build on their terrific form during the latter stages of last season, with a superb start to this season. Their 100% record on the road has launched them into 4th place as they breathe down the necks of Brighton and Southampton. However they missed an opportunity to break into the automatic promotion spots, dropping two points at home to relegation favourites Coventry City. Perhaps it is easy to see why they have performed better away from home, as opposition players are hardly intimidated by masses of empty seats at the Riverside Stadium.

Next 6 League Fixtures:

Crystal Palace (A) – Saturday 17th September, 3.00pm

Ipswich Town (H) – Saturday 24th September, 3.00pm

Leicester City (H) – Wednesday 28th September, 7.45pm

Reading (A) – Saturday 1st October, 3.00pm

Millwall (H) – Saturday 15th October, 3.00pm

Nottingham Forest (A) – Tuesday 18th October, 7.45pm

Expected Starting Line-Up

                                                                    C.Ikeme (GK)

                             M.Bates (CB)               S.McManus (CB)         A.McMahon (CB)

 J.Hoyte (RWB)                                                                                                           J.Arca (LWB)

                             R.Williams (CM)         N.Bailey (CM)             B.Robson (CM)           

                                             S.McDonald (ST)         M.Emnes (ST) 

Tactical Battle – Where the game might be won and lost

Two of the Championship’s top scorers will be looking to add to their impressive tallies on Saturday. Burnley’s Charlie Austin has benefitted from a full pre-season at his new club with a return of 4 goals from 4 games. Dutch striker Marvin Emnes has been equally impressive, scoring 7 times in the opening 7 fixtures for Boro. He should be supported by Australian International Scott McDonald, who should have fully recovered from his hamstring injury.  With Michael Duff out injured for Burnley, David Edgar will tasked in leading a very young backline.

At the other end, Burnley have plenty of attacking options and last season’s top scorer Jay Rodriguez offers plenty of attacking guile. Howe has a dilemma as to whether he drops either Keith Treacy or Ross Wallace for highly-rated winger Junior Stanislas. Either way, Mowbray may consider sacrificing his 3-5-2 formation on Saturday to ensure the wing-backs are given more protection. They will be particularly relieved that Wade Elliott departed for Birmingham City on transfer deadline day, as he often provided quality crosses from the right hand side. But then why would Mowbray want to change a winning side?

Prediction

Both sides have reasons to be cheerful as the home side ended Derby County’s 100% record last time out. The Clarets will be hoping to repeat this by ending Boro’s 100% away record, but I think the firepower that Middlesbrough possess may be too much for the Burnley backline. I predict a comfortable 2-0 victory for Boro as they continue their emphatic start to the season.

Recommended Bets

Paddy Power

Charlie Austin – 5/1 (1st Goalscorer) – As mentioned above, both strikers will be full of confidence. Despite my prediction, I wouldn’t rule out Charlie Austin improving on his tally in this game as he is the type of striker that finds space in the penalty area and finishes clinically.

Marvin Emnes – 6/1 (1st Goalscorer) – Emnes will be grateful to have Scott McDonald back alongside him again. The Dutchman’s trickery has often produced goals from absolutely nothing and his spectacular winner against Leeds United was truly memorable for the Boro fans.

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