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Leicester City 11/12 Opponents Preview – Burnley

This is my sixth instalment of Leicester City’s Championship opponents for the 2011/2012 season, this time I turn my attentions to Burnley. Only a Premier League side a couple of years ago, can the Lancashire outfit put up a promotion challenge this time around, they have a very good set of players and a highly rated manager in charge so anything is possible. Don’t rule out Burnley this season, because a top six place is very likely…

Burnley Preview
After falling from the Premier League in 2009, last season Burnley mastered a mediocre campaign in the Npower Championship as they just missed out on the play-offs after finishing 8th. 2011/2012 will mark Eddie Howe’s first full season in charge of the Clarets, the youngest manager in the Championship seems to be happy with the squad as he has only strengthened his side by requiring two new players. Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier who have had loan spells in the Npower Championship before, both join on a season long loan from Manchester City. Meanwhile the departure of two key players in Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears will see a change in contrast on the right side of the pitch; however Burnley have still kept a balanced squad with young striking sensation Jay Rodriguez recently committing his services to the club, while experienced Burnley duo of Chris McCann and Wade Elliott will also play pivotal roles. Howe is a talented manager who will bring the best out of his players; he may need to strengthen in key areas such as the right side of midfield but with Rodriguez, Wallace and Austin available in attack a respectable place finish is very likely to happen.

Key Players
With Mee and Trippier being the only additions so far, it clearly shows that Eddie Howe has identified the defence as his real weakness. With these two signings however the defence looks very sturdy, both England Under 21 internationals both players posses different qualities, Mee standing at only 5ft11 is pretty small for a centre back; however from his time with Leicester City last season he is more than capable of defending against some of the most robust strikers in the division, Mee’s top attributes were his leap, heading and tackling. While Trippier who was on loan at Barnsley, is a tough tackler, he also has plenty of pace in his locker aswell as being a physical unit, both these players will be crucial to Burnley’s 2011/2012 campaign. Meanwhile the midfield duo of Chris McCann and Wade Elliott are now in their sixth season at Turf Moor, both players were involved in the 2008/2009 promotion campaign. Both players have been a vital part of the Burnley side in recent years, and with Eagles now departing all eyes will be on McCann and Elliott to deliver the goods. Finally 21 year old Jay Rodriguez had a season to remember in 10/11 as he finished as the Clarets top goalscorer, one of the best finishers in the Npower Championship Rodriguez is a player who has all the qualities that a top class striker should have, strong, quick and technically gifted the youngster could well have his best season to date.

Manager – Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe is currently one of the most exciting prospects in management, only 33 years of age Howe is the youngest manager in the Npower Championship. After having a successful time at Bournemouth the side who he played over 200 games for, Howe was on high alert as many Championship clubs wanted the young manager to take over the reins at their respective clubs. After securing promotion with Bournemouth from League 2, and guiding them within the top two in Npower League 1, Burnley eventually won the race to secure his services as he was appointed their manager in early January. The 33 year old guided Burnley to an 8th place finish in season 10/11, this campaign however he hopes to go two better and secure a play-off place with the Clarets, it will be his most difficult task to date but one he can surpass. Howe is a bright young manager and he could well guide Burnley to promotion this season.

Ins and Outs
Ins – Ben Mee(Man City), Kieran Trippier(Man City)

Outs – Steven Thompson(St Mirren), Remco Van der Schaaf(Brondby), Clarke Carlisle(Preston), Chris Iwelumo(Watford), Chris Eagles(Bolton), Tyrone Mears(Bolton), Kevin McDonald(Released), Graham Alexander(Released)

Overall Thoughts
Taking everything into account, Eddie Howe’s side should have a consistent campaign in 11/12. Some reinforcement in defence in now complete, but still Howe may well need to sign players in other areas of the pitch, Burnley need to replace Chris Eagles on the right side of midfield, also another striker may well need to be required, with Iwelumo departing, Paterson also rumoured to be heading for pastures new and Charlie Austin yet to hit top form, Burnley could well need another player up front. The Clarets have a strong side that is capable of the top ten; however a play-off challenge is questionable, if Howe targets more signings they could well claim a top six finish but the way things are looking at the moment, the fringes of the top ten is more likely. Prediction – 11th



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