Luke Turner looks ahead to tomorrow’s game…
Sean Dyche brings his Burnley side to St Andrews tomorrow looking for another win that will only enhance their chances of gaining automatic promotion back to the Premier League.
Blues have had their play-off hopes dashed and will be looking to end their season on a positive note, starting with a victory tomorrow.
I am expecting Gary Rowett to revert back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that has worked so well over the course of the season, which will hopefully mean a recall to the side for Jon Toral.
Blues have been lacking that creative spark at St Andrews in the past few games and playing three central midfielders hasn’t really worked.
You can understand it away from home but, in front of the home faithful, the team are expected to be a lot more attacking and dangerous to the opposition.
Burnley will provide us with a huge test and they have players all over the pitch and on the bench with Premier League experience which has certainly helped them this season.
We can expect to see The Clarets take control of this game and they will no doubt be menacing from the get-go. It is up to them to force the issue, with them having more to play for.
This will hopefully play into our hands as the more possession the other team have, then the more likely we are to spring a counter attack and catch them on the break.
That is what we are best at but haven’t really been able to show it at home, perhaps because the onus has been on us to attack teams whilst the play-offs were still realistic.
But, when we do have spells of control in the game, the advantage of having someone like Toral in the team will really show.
For me, the main threat of Burnley really has to be their front two, Sam Vokes and Andre Gray. The pair have 34 goals and 11 assists between them this season which pretty much speaks for itself.
Gray has proved his worth following his £9m summer move from Brentford and is currently the top scorer in the Championship and has been nominated for player of the year.
He is the sort of play that only needs one chance to score and win the game for you so the Blues defence will need to be on guard all afternoon.
The combination play and understanding between Gray and Vokes will also cause Blues plenty of problems.
Morrison and Shotton will have to compete plenty of times with Vokes in the air but I still expect the Burnley frontman to win a fair share of his duels.
Vokes will face a late fitness check after coming off injured last weekend but, if he doesn’t make it, then they can call on Ashley Barnes who can be just as effective.
Burnley are a team who work as a unit and do the basics right. Boyd and Arfield won’t try anything that is out of their depth and Jones and Barton will control the midfield with quick, simple passes.
They can boast being the top scorers in the league and they also have the third best defence with Michael Keane at the heart of it so the balance in their team is there for all to see.
However, I do think that there could be something in it for Blues. We could get back to our old selves by soaking up the pressure and then punishing Burnley on the counter.
With Burnley playing a flat 4-4-2, that could leave room for the likes of Toral to pick the ball up in space and attack their back four.
They will have a solid shape but that hopefully won’t prevent Blues from finding those gaps in between the lines and I really do think there could be a shock on the cards tomorrow.
Blues only have pride to play for now so we can play with freedom and express ourselves. Let’s just hope that the pressure of being near the top gets to Sean Dyche`s men and we can secure a first home win since the beginning of March.