Burnley have two dates with destiny at Turf Moor in the next week.
Burnley v Nottingham Forest
15:00 – Turf Moor – Sky Bet Championship
It’s in our hands.
That’s the exciting or frightening fact, depending on your point of view.
QPR’s stuttering form and Burnley’s latest unbeaten run has opened the door wide to an unlikely Clarets promotion. But standing in our way is a run of massive matches, which gets underway tomorrow.
Nottingham Forest are arguably the Championship’s form team right now and they know a win tomorrow puts them right in the mix for an automatic promotion slot.
The Tricky Trees have a squad absolutely packed with ability, with experienced pros like Andy Reid, Greg Halford and Gonzalo Jara mixed with young talent such as Jamaal Lascelles, Karl Darlow and Jamie Paterson.
Forest came within a few minutes of victory over league leaders Leicester City in midweek, with a late penalty (yep, Leicester getting a penalty, who would have guessed?) that was missed but then converted on the rebound meaning it ended 2-2 at the City Ground.
But Billy Davies brings his side to Turf Moor with plenty of momentum and for a change we should see an away team really have a go tomorrow. Forest, five points behind the Clarets, know a draw is little use to their promotion charge with Derby County and Reading also chasing down the top two.
The Clarets have a virtually full squad to choose from with only the out of favour Brian Stock unavailable due to a back injury. Sean Dyche will probably name the same team for the sixth game in a row, although Keith Treacy is pushing for a recall after scoring the equaliser at Bournemouth last weekend.
Davies has been missing key players through injury for much of the season, but the list of talent available to him is still imposing. Perhaps up front is a weakness for Forest – nobody has made it into double figures yet – but they share the goals out. Reid has nine league goals and Simon Cox, who scored against Burnley at the City Ground, has eight.
Burnley’s unbeaten run at Fortress Turf Moor stretches to almost a year now and preserving that amazing record tomorrow and next week against Derby will be crucial to our promotion hopes.
NOTE: No Nay Never is shooting a short film – We Are These People – outside Turf Moor on Saturday. Tweet us @nonaynevernet if you want to come down and be in it. We’ll be filming from around midday. Under 16s are welcome but will need a parent/guardian to sign a release form. Wear your colours.
After winning their first three league games of the season, Forest’s season hit the skids a little as they struggled to put victories together. But Davies’ team have beaten Leicester, Derby and QPR this season, with Reading the only team in the top six to have taken three points from them this season, although the Clarets knocked them out of the Capital One Cup at Turf Moor.
Forest are fresh off the back of a run of four straight away games – they won at Preston in the FA Cup but lost at Sheffield United, while they drew at Blackp0ol in the league and beat Huddersfield Town 3-0 – but that victory at Huddersfield is their only league win on the road since early December.
Still, an unbeaten Championship run now stretches back to the end of November and a team that walloped Blackburn Rovers, Watford and Premier League West Ham United at home in January cannot be taken lightly.
Dangerman: Jamie Paterson
Jamie Paterson wasn’t the most heralded signing of Davies’ summer spending spree, but he’s turned into one of the Championship’s most effective wide players in 2014.
Former Walsall attacker Paterson didn’t open his Forest account until January, but he did so in style with a hat-trick as Forest blew West Ham away 5-0 in the FA Cup.
He’s scored six more since then, placing his tally for 2014 at nine in all competitions. Danny Ings has seven and Sam Vokes has six, which just shows how Paterson has exploded since the turn of the year.
A direct player who will shoot on sight with either foot, Paterson invites comparisons to James McClean or if you’re feeling particularly generous, Cristiano Ronaldo. No, really.
Manager: Billy Davies
Extremely angry small man Billy Davies is best known to Burnley fans for his spell as Preston North End manager. Two successful years at North End ended in play-off heartbreak both times, the second of which is memorable for his “Job Done” comments after the first leg, only for Leeds United to knock them out in the second game.
Davies, who started his managerial career at Motherwell, then moved to Derby County, where he put two years of play-off defeats to bed by leading them to promotion in his first year, via the play-offs. But Derby were dreadful in the Premier League and Davies departed with the club rock bottom with only six points in November.
Davies then spent over a year out of work before Forest came calling on January 1st 2009. Two more years of defeats in the play-offs resulted in Davies getting the sack (his record now stands at just one promotion from five top six finishes), but Forest brought him back 20 months later and he’s turned around their fortunes.
A fifth play-off defeat could be on the cards.
Both sides should really go for it tomorrow, knowing defeat will be a blow to the other side’s opposition hopes. It ought to be wide open then and both sides are capable of scoring heavily, so an entertaining match should be on the cards.
After last week’s successful 1-1 prediction, I’m sticking my arse on the fence and forecasting another score draw for the Clarets.
What’s your prediction for the match? Comment below.