Burnley need at least a point against the champions-elect, writes Jamie Smith.
Burnley v Cardiff City
12:45 – Turf Moor – nPower Championship
The Clarets host already-promoted Cardiff City in a match that is key to our survival hopes. Burnley probably only need one more point to be safe, but successive 1-0 derby defeats to Blackpool and Leeds United have left us in 17th place.
Cardiff City might have a promotion hangover for the trip to east Lancashire, but they can win the title at Turf Moor and would be able to parade the trophy in their next home game should they secure the victory they require.
Burnley will be without leading scorer Charlie Austin, recovering from an appendix operation, while Ben Mee is a doubt after being substituted during the shotless loss at Elland Road. Danny Lafferty could come in for Mee.
Alex Kacaniklic has been recalled by Fulham after making minimal impact in his six appearances for the Club and that opens the door for Junior Stanislas to be recalled. Danny Ings and Martin Paterson will be hoping to start, with Sam Vokes goalless in four since his late equaliser at Watford.
Fraizer Campbell is a doubt for City after missing the last few games, but his goals helped the Welsh side to secure promotion following his January transfer.
Cardiff City 4-0 Burnley
Terry Pashley was in charge but suffered a heavy defeat in front of incoming boss Sean Dyche. Pashley had secured successive wins against Blackpool and Bristol City, but had no answer to the Welsh side’s prowess in front of goal.
Burnley’s heaviest defeat of the season started badly, Joe Mason giving the hosts the lead in the third minute. It was 2-0 when Lee Grant made a hash of Craig Noone’s shot after a bad pass from Jason Shackell put Chris McCann in trouble. The third came from a corner – Matt Connolly heading in unchallenged – and the scoring was completed by Aron Gunnarsson.
A truly miserable day.
The former Bluebirds confirmed their promotion with a 0-0 draw at home to Charlton Athletic midweek and are unbeaten in their last five. Consistency has been their most impressive trait this season and they haven’t lost at home since February, when play-off hopefuls Brighton turned them over 2-0. A glimmer of hope for the Clarets comes from the fact they’ve only scored four goals in their last four games and three of those came in a comfortable win over Nottingham Forest. Two games of their current five-match unbeaten run have finished 0-0, which would probably suit the Clarets.
Dangerman: Aron Gunnarrson
Cardiff have managed to earn promotion despite none of their players reaching double figures this season. Classy midfield player Aron Gunnarsson is one of their main threats and the former Coventry City man has scored eight goals this campaign. The Iceland international is complemented in midfield by former Claret Peter Whittingham, who also has eight goals this season.
Manager: Malky Mackay
Mackay was Sean Dyche’s predecessor at Watford and following his sterling work at Vicarage Road was the man selected to spearhead Cardiff’s promotion push. And his appointment has been a resounding success as Cardiff secured promotion with three games to spare. Mackay, however, might be heading into next season with some nerves after foreign owners at Southampton and Reading both dispatched their promotion-winning managers this year. Vincent Tan, Cardiff’s Malaysian owner, has pledged to spend £25 million on players this summer. It’s testament to Mackay’s ability that Cardiff have been promoted despite any big name stars apart from local hero Craig Bellamy.
It’s arguably our biggest match of the season and with tickets priced at only £10, there could be a big crowd at Turf Moor despite the game being screened live on Sky Sports. Cardiff will be in party mood and there will be a loud following from Wales. Sean Dyche needs to have his players up for the challenge, but the Clarets have only beaten Bristol City at home in three months and there was a distinct lack of fight midweek at Elland Road. A draw might be the best we can hope for.
How should Dyche line his side up? Comment below.