Clarets Player commentator Phil Bird's take on the football world
Four games in ten days could shape our season. The Christmas/New Year period often gives us a good idea of our chances for the rest of the campaign.
Birmingham City away is a tough start. They are at the wrong end of the table. Carling Cup winners as recently as 2011, things have gone wrong in the last 20 months. However, we know any side featuring ex-Clarets Wade Elliott and Steven Caldwell will be hard to beat.
There are rumours suggesting they are subject to a takeover bid. There is uncertainty. We need to go to St Andrew’s, play well, take our chances and grab the points.
By and large I think our recent performances have been good. We’ve not been getting the results we deserve. Our three defeats under Sean Dyche have been influenced by controversial decisions.
We should have beaten Watford and Blackburn Rovers in our last two home games. We were clearly the better side in both matches but spurned good chances at crucial times.
Maybe some decisions are not going our way. Having looked again at the Marco Cassetti handball on Clarets Player, I’m convinced that was a clear penalty in the second half of the Watford game. It’s another game-changing decision that has gone against us.
Clarets fans dread the January transfer window so it was comforting to hear at the AGM we are doing everything we can to keep Charlie Austin at the club. Significantly, because of injury, this is the first full season of his professional career.
His penalty against Watford was his 22nd goal of the season and his 30th of 2012. A whopping 28 of those have come since his introduction as a substitute at Fratton Park just before Easter.
I like how Austin wasn’t fazed by Watford’s time-wasting tactics after referee Phil Gibbs had awarded the penalty. He ignored the shenanigans and casually replaced the ball before firing home.
Arsenal’s defeat at Bradford City was the shock of the season. It’s hard to believe that despite all the trophies the Gunners have won since Arsene Wenger came to the club he is now under such pressure.
It’s only the second time in his tenure (he joined in September 1996) that Arsenal have been beaten by a lower league side in a domestic cup competition. When was the first? You’ve guessed it - Burnley v Arsenal, Carling Cup quarter-final December 2008.
If newspaper reports are to be believed it seems the Blackburn Rovers staff party on Monday night didn’t quite go to plan!
With only one win in nine games manager Henning Berg is starting to feel the pressure. And when the DJ wanted to lift spirits with some party games, Berg was encouraged to go on stage with a stocking on his head.
But when he was reportedly asked to dance wearing a Michael Jackson wig enough was enough.
The Norwegian promptly left the stage but insisted later in a statement his departure at 9.30pm was pre-planned and totally unrelated to the 'entertainment'.
Quote of the Week:
Harry Redknapp is a journalist’s dream. He will always be good for a quote. On Adel Taarabt: “He’s like Di Canio, who I thought was a fantastic player, one of the all-time greats at West Ham.”
Interesting that Harry, you let Taarabt go to QPR when you were at Tottenham shortly after he came on as a substitute in the memorable Carling Cup semi-final at Turf Moor. You didn’t fancy him then!
And wait until he insists he can go to the African Cup of Nations with Morocco. Let’s see how popular he is then!
Well that’s it from me until the New Year. I hope all Clarets have a fantastic Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Wins against Birmingham, Derby, Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday would certainly help!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Burnley FC.