Clarets Preview - Away, March 1st
Burnley fans are dreaming, looking back some four years ago to an example set by Crystal Palace who stormed into the Play-Offs with a string of fine form. Under the guidance of Owen Coyle the Claret`s believe this could be their year to repeat the trick.
Clarke Carlisle is convinced the Lancashire outfit have a strong squad, a squad which the 'world`s brainiest footballer` claims is better than he went up with in 2006 with the Golden Boys. Are we really that smart Clarke? Well, if the former alcoholic ever fances an orange juice in Watford, he`s unlikely to get one having returned to Watford earlier in the season and helping his charges snatch three late points.
That was then, this is now, and this, crucially, is an away tie.
Burnley are not a side to be taken lightly, but games at Turf Moor bring out the best in goalscoring terms for Watford. Under Ray Lewington the Hornets netted 7, conceding four [all in one game] the following season Watford won 3-2 thanks to a Paul Devlin before loosing 4-1 a season later. That defeat was the catalyst for Watford to keep going strong an win promotion. This is the beginning of several cucial games as the run-in takes shape…
Filling the sticks at Turf Moor is a man who has experienced the Play Offs at former club, Crystal Palace. Gabor Kiraly will go down as one of the more eccentric goalkeepers of the recent years simply because of his jogging bottoms. However, the Hungarian international is an excellent goalkeeper, all be his style, unique, he gets the job done. A free transfer signing from Selhurst Park in the Summer, Kiraly has notched up 24 starts in the league this season.
In front of Kiraly is the pairing of Stephen Caldwell and Clarke Carlisle. The majority of non-glory hunting Hornets fans will remember Carlisle who spent two seasons in WD18 winning promotion before spending much of the Premiership campaign on the bench. Injured at the back end of the 2005/2006 season, Clarke returned in 4-2 April win in 2007 having spent a tortuous 10 months on the sidelines.
Centre half partner Caldwell has had an equally frustrating period in football of late, making just 75 league starts in three years at Sunderland. In fact, in nine years pro` football the Scottish international has just over 150 league starts, in total. However, the new Clarets skipper will be making up for lost time and 34 league starts show a man at the top of his game and fitness levels and ready to show the Mackems what they missed.
In midfield, young Ulsterman Chris McCann has put in some sparkling displays over the past couple of years since stealing the limelight in his breakthrough season two years ago. Since then the 21 year-old has managed 64 league starts and 12 goals thus far. A pacey wideman, McCann can also operate in the middle of the park too.
Another young startlet in midfield is Mark Randall, on-loan from Arsenal since moving in the January transfer window. Since his deadline day move the 19 year old has come off the bench five times. Highly-rated by Arsene Wengar, and, shockingly for a Gunner, English, Randall has a big future in the game and Burnley look like the club who will sample his ability first of all. Afterall, it`s unlike Wengar to get something wrong…
However that said, one talent the Frenchman let slip through his fingers was Andrew Cole. Now with his twelfth club, the one-time England cap has amassed a huge 422 league starts notching 227 goals, 93 of those for Manchester United in just 161 league starts. Having left United, Cole has done the rounds, playing for City, Blackburn, Fulham, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Sunderland and now Burnley on-loan. Four goals in two starts for his new side have proved the doubters wrong and kept the Clarets on form.
Proving doubters wrong is exactly what the Clarets want to do this season but first they must overcome their own home difficulties against the Golden Boys…
Kiraly; Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell (c), Harley; Elliot, Gudjonsson, McCann, Lafferty; Blake and Cole.
Lee (c); Mariappa, Bromby, Shittu, Sadler; Smith, O`Toole, Eustace, McAnuff; Henderson and Kabba.
Come on you 'Orns!