Off down the Yellow Brick Road
Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Saturday, 3rd March 2012
Burnley travel to Vicarage Road tomorrow and will be looking for the points to try and close the gap on the play offs.
There was always the concern, given the disappointing home form, that we might slip away from the top six should the away wins stop. That's proved to be the case with the last two away fixtures both ending in defeat whilst we continue to drop points at home.
|Ben Mee, concentrate on the games coming up|
That sees us travel to Vicarage Road still with a six point gap to close and with some of the clubs above us having played a game less.
We are in 11th place in the league with a win tomorrow only able to lift us one place, and that is dependent on Leeds failing to beat league leaders Southampton.
The league tables and the play off hopes are for us, the supporters, to worry about whereas the players can only concentrate on one game at a time as defender Ben Mee said this week: "I think Duffo said it the other day. We don't want to concentrate on that at the minute, we want to concentrate on the games coming up and maybe put that on the back burner and just focus on what's coming ahead of us.
"If we end up getting in the play-off places that will be great, but we just want to concentrate on the games ahead at the moment. You can maybe put a little bit of pressure on yourself, (thinking) that you've got to get in there, so we are going to look one step ahead."
The away form has been one or the other this season with no draws whatsoever. We've won eight and we've lost eight but we are still in sight of the club record for away league wins in a season. A win at Watford would take that total to nine and would leave us just two short of that record, one which we have achieved on four separate occasions - in seasons 1946/47, 1960/61, 1972/73 and 1991/92.
Our squad looked horribly exposed last week. We were without Dean Marney and Josh McQuoid with matters getting worse before half time when Chris McCann went off with a hamstring problem.
There's some good news this week. Both Marney and McQuoid are available and I expect them to play. McCann faces a late check but news coming out over the last couple of days suggest he'll be ok.
We could also have Junior Stanislas available too. He's been out since he sustained his hamstring injury at Middlesbrough seven weeks ago.
Should McCann be fit then I think we'll see Marney and McQuoid in for Bartley and Treacy who hasn't played in consecutive games for three months. Will there be any other changes? It wouldn't surprise me to see Martin Paterson return to the starting line up.
If so we could line up: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Josh McQuoid, Martin Paterson, Jay Rodriguez. Subs from: Brian Jensen, Brian Easton, Marvin Bartley, Junior Stanislas, Keith Treacy, Danny Ings, Charlie Austin.
Our Opponents - Watford
Watford come into the game in 17th place in the table. They have 40 points and that means they are a comfortable distance away from the bottom three.
That, I believe, is an achievement given they lost their manager and arguably their two best players during the summer. Malky Mackay moved to replace Dave Jones at Cardiff. He came back and signed Don Cowie, always a threat for Watford.
To add to their woes, they lost striker Danny Graham to newly promoted Premier League club Swansea City. Graham had ended last season with 23 league goals, more than any other player in the Championship.
His replacement was Chris Iwelumo, but the former Burnley striker has struggled for goals and to date has netted just once for Watford. Big Chris scored for the Clarets on New Year's Day 2010 in a 4-2 win against Sheffield United. Since, he's scored just two goals in a total of 54 games of which 25 have been starts.
Without Graham they were looking to Iwelumo and Marvin Sordell to proved the goals. Sordell is their leading scorer but he moved to Bolton in January and that means the current player with the most league goals this season is Troy Deeney who has scored six times.
Dyche has been given some good news with both Sean Murray and Lee Hodson available again. Murray returns after recovering from a thigh injury and Hodson has been out with an illness. To add to that, Stephen McGinn is on his way back from a long term knee injury. He played in the reserves this week but is not expected to feature.
One player who will definitely start for Watford is goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak. He made his debut last week after signing on loan from Manchester United but he gifted the first goal to Southampton. He's been given the backing of his manager and will play.
Their team last week against Southampton was: Tomasz Kuszczak, Lloyd Doyley, Adrian Mariappa, Nyron Nosworthy, Carl Dickinson; Mark Yeates, John Eustace, Jonathan Hogg, Alex Kacaniklic, Troy Deeney, Marcello Trotta. Subs: Scott Loach, Dale Bennett, Prince Buaben, Chris Iwelumo, Joe Garner.
Last Time We Were There
Last season's trip to Watford brought with it probably our best away performance of the season and all three points from a fully deserved 3-1 win.
There was no doubting who the man of the match was that day. Chris Eagles turned in a spell of masterful play during a period in the second half when we scored twice and ensured the points were ours.
|A Chris Eagles masterclass|
Eagles, however, had precious little to do with our first goal and I think it is fair to say that goes for the rest of the Burnley team. Watford had missed a good chance in the first minute of the game but with just eight minutes gone we took the lead in bizarre fashion.
A long ball up the pitch proved comfortable for Watford. Defender Dale Bennett allowed it to go back to goalkeeper Scott Loach who cleared it up field, well that was the intention. Unfortunately for Loach, his shot smashed into defender Bennett around 20 yards from goal and cannoned off him into the unguarded net.
We were the better side but some bad defending from Clarke Carlisle allowed Marvin Sordell to get clear down the right and when he crossed there was a mix up between Tyrone Mears, who was the guilty party, and Lee Grant allowing Danny Graham to score.
1-1 at half time was probably about right but the best was yet to come from Burnley. Players were having difficulty keeping their feet in the appalling conditions because of the poor Vicarage Road surface but not Eagles.
The best move of the game saw Danny Fox play a good ball to Ross Wallace who brilliantly found Jack Cork. He got it to Eagles who played a one-two with Chris Iwelumo before taking his shot early and stabbing home.
It was a tremendous goal from the man of the match who definitely didn't have another performance like this for Burnley. He was the architect of the third too. He got the ball on the right hand side of the box, moved along the goal line before hitting it across to the far post where Iwelumo headed in from close range for his only away goal for Burnley.
There was never going to be a Watford response and the nearest we came to another goal was when substitute Marvin Bartley, on for his debut, was fouled in the box only to see his penalty claims waved away.
The teams were;
Watford: Scott Loach, Lee Hodson, Martin Taylor, Dale Bennett (Adam Thompson 45), Adrian Mariappa, Will Buckley, John Eustace, Danny Drinkwater (Andros Townsend 72), Stephen McGinn, Danny Graham, Marvin Sordell (Andy Weimann 55). Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, Troy Deeney, Ross Jenkins, Matthew Whichelow.
Burnley: Lee Grant, Tyrone Mears, Clarke Carlisle, Michael Duff, Danny Fox, Ross Wallace, Jack Cork (Graham Alexander 83), Dean Marney, Chris Eagles (Marvin Bartley 90+1), Chris Iwelumo (Steven Thompson 76), Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Andre Bikey, Brian Easton, Wade Elliott.
Previous Games against Watford
|Last 20 Years|
|1996/97||Division 2||a||2-2||6,450||Gleghorn, Smith|
|Division 1||h||4-7||10,208||Taylor(3), Davis|
|h||3-1||11,507||Bowditch, O'Connor, Valois|
|h||4-1||13,815||Branch, Harley(2 1pen), J O'Connor|
|2008/09||Championship||h||3-2||10,033||Alexander(pen), Paterson, Elliott|
|2010/11||Championship||h||3-2||14,160||Iwelumo, Wallace, Alexander(pen)|
|a||3-1||13,103||Bennett(og), Eagles, Iwelumo|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Watford