Burnley travel to Sheffield today hoping to make a better start to 2013 than was the case a year ago when it started with another trip to Yorkshire and a controversial defeat at Leeds.
On that occasion Kieran Trippier was ridiculously sent off by Mark Brown, who had a nightmare of an afternoon refereeing the game, and, despite the ten man Clarets taking the lead with a Charlie Austin goal, we eventually fell to a defeat with the predictable two late goals against Leeds.
Trippier was the only Burnley player sent off in 2012. He added to that with another outrageous dismissal in the recent home game against Charlton when referee Bobby Madley turned the game Charlton's way when he adjudged the full back to have handled the ball on the line.
|A special day for Lee Grant|
We travel to South Yorkshire this afternoon looking to get things moving again after the disappointing performance and result in the home game against Leicester. We lost that game 1-0 and crucially also lost Charlie Austin early in the game after he pulled up again and there appears to be little chance of him featuring today.
One player who will feature is goalkeeper Lee Grant. He's been an ever present in the league this season and today goes back to Hillsborough for the first time since we signed him from Sheffield Wednesday in the summer of 2010.
Grant was with Wednesday for three seasons during which he played 136 of their 138 league games. Signed by Brian Laws for both clubs, he's now hoping his current club push on in the second half of the season.
"It will be really special for me," he said. "I had three really good years there and I am looking forward to going back. Hopefully I can come away with three points which would make the day even more special for me.
"They have had a couple of good results of late and it's never easy to play at Hillsborough. They will be confident and looking to try and pull away from the danger zone down at the bottom, but these are games where we really need to go and stamp our authority and we need to go there and believe a little bit more in ourselves, because I think on Saturday we were guilty of possibly not doing that against one of the top sides.
"If we can go there and show them what we are all about I'm sure we can come away with six points."
Grant isn't the only member of the Burnley squad to have played for Wednesday; Keith Treacy, who got his first start of the season in the Leicester game, was with them at the end of last season and helped them to promotion. They were keen to sign him during the summer of 2012 but couldn't come to an agreement on a fee with Burnley.
Burnley's team will be similar to the one that lost to Leicester. Martin Paterson came on for Austin in that game. Should there be no further injuries, and should Paterson continue up front, we could line up: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Ross Wallace, Danny Ings, Keith Treacy, Martin Paterson. Subs from: Brian Jensen, Luke O'Neill, Kevin Long, David Edgar, Joseph Mills, Brian Stock, Marvin Bartley, Sam Vokes.
When Sheffield Wednesday pitched up at Turf Moor they were on an horrendous run having lost their previous six league games. A point in that 3-3 draw, when Charlie three times gave us the lead, ended that run .
They won two and lost two of the next five and then embarked on another losing streak, this time seven games. When they lost the seventh of them, a 3-2 home defeat to fellow strugglers Bristol City, it left them next to bottom of the league and looking to be in all sorts of trouble.
Things have changed since. In four games they haven't conceded a goal. They've beaten Barnsley, Charlton and Bolton and followed that up with a point in a 0-0 draw at Huddersfield. Those results have edged them out of the relegation places and means we face a team full of confidence this afternoon.
Only a few weeks ago it looked almost certain that manager Dave Jones was about to lose his job but being one of the form teams in the last month has left him much more secure in the position he's held since replacing Gary Megson last year.
One player who won't feature is Jay Bothroyd. He's not had the best of times at Hillsborough and has now been recalled by QPR. He is available today but will not be selected.
Wednesday will have to go into today's game without Reda Johnson. He, legitimately, picked up a yellow card at Huddersfield, his fifth of the season in just seven Championship appearances, and so must sit out today's game.
Jeremy Helan, carded twice at Huddersfield, will be available whilst the FA decide what action to take. It looks likely that Helan will miss their FA Cup tie rather than a league game once the FA have untangled the mess.
Helan is expected to drop back into his more favoured left back position to replace Johnson with Jermaine Johnson the likely replacement.
If so, the Sheffield Wednesday team will be: 1. Chris Kirkland, 2. Lewis Buxton, 32. Miguel Llera, 4. Anthony Gardner, 24. Jeremy Helan, 20. Kieran Lee, 16. Rhys McCabe, 6. Jose Semedo,11. Jermaine Johnson, 7. Michail Antonio, 22. Mamady Sidibe. Subs from: 43. Stephen Bywater, 26. Daniel Jones, 5. Martin Taylor, 21. Paul Corry, 9. Gary Madine, 10. Chris Maguire, 25. David Prutton, 12. Chris O'Grady.
Last Time We Were There
Today is the first day of the calendar year. Last time we went to Hillsborough was the first day of the season, a day when hopes and expectation are high.
They certainly were at Burnley with new signings galore and we included four of them in the starting line up. Two of those four were Chris Eagles and Martin Paterson but the other two were hardly players to make names for themselves at Turf Moor, goalkeeper Diego Penny from Peru and the key signing, Dutchman Remco van der Schaaf.
There was a real air of confidence amongst the Burnley fans and once we'd got through the appalling pre-match entertainment of some women trying to sing 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B' we were ready.
|Debut for Remco|
What we could not have been ready for was the start. We'd prepared for the new season with games in America, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as England but here in South Yorkshire we were a goal down in the first minute through Marcus Tudgay, the first Football League goal of the season, and incredibly Akpo Sodje made it 2-0 in only the fourth minute.
"Game over," said one Burnley fan behind me who got up and left but it was far from over. Debutant Paterson scored on six minutes but just past the half hour it was 3-1 as Sodje got his second and that was after they'd squandered three other very good chances. We could, quite conceivably, have been 6-1 down.
We got to half time at 3-1 and actually did improve a bit early in the second half, but without threatening to get back into it. Manager Owen Coyle, in what was his only full season as Burnley manager, brought on Joey Gudjonsson for the dreadful van der Schaaf just before the hour.
It was the Dutchman's worst performance for Burnley; it was the Dutchman's only appearance for Burnley. He became our Lord Lucan as he remained a Burnley player for three years, most of which was spent out on loan.
The fourth goal followed soon after with Tudgay getting his second and all in all it was as disastrous as start to a season as you could make.
Eagles and Paterson both played well enough. So did Stephen Jordan at left back. No one else came out of it with any credit and Penny, like van der Schaaf, was making his first and last league start for Burnley.
As we all know now, things improved during the season, dramatically so, but what a shocking start it was against Brian Laws' team.
Sheffield Wednesday: Lee Grant, Richard Hinds, Richard Wood, Mark Beevers, Tommy Spurr, Marcus Tudgay, James O'Connor (Steve Watson 88), Sean McAllister, Jermaine Johnson (Jimmy Smith 69), Akpo Sodje (Leon Clarke 21), Deon Burton. Subs not used: Richard O'Donnell, Ettiene Esajas.
Burnley: Diego Penny, Graham Alexander, Michael Duff, Steven Caldwell, Stephen Jordan, Remco van der Schaaf (Joey Gudjonsson 59), Chris McCann, Wade Elliott, Chris Eagles, Robbie Blake (Ade Akinbiyi 76), Martin Paterson. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Christian Kalvenes, Alan Mahon.
Previous Games against Sheffield Wednesday
|Last 20 Years|
|2001/02||Division 1||a||2-0||21,766||Taylor, Cook(pen)|
|2002/03||Division 1||a||3-1||17,004||Taylor, Little, I Moore|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Sheffield Wednesday