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Burnley preview

It has been a strange time of late. Results have seen us remain within striking distance of the Champions League positions yet performances in the main have not been convincing over the past month

Odd periods aside - the second half at Sunderland and parts of the Wigan victory - we have struggled to find rythm and cohesion in the side. However, the Everton defeat aside we have looked a strong side and not allowed opponents much by way of opportunities and we should possess too much for a Burnley side that looks low on confidence.

Another TV appearance awaits us tomorrow with the three points crucial for both sides for very different reasons. By the time we step on the field we will be aware of how Tottenham have fared in their fixture at Sunderland. This of course means we will either be in a position where a win is needed to stay on their heels or victory would arguably put us back in pole position.

Regardless, coming away with three points is vital.

Since taking charge of Burnley following Owen Coyle's departure, Brian Law's has presided over a miserable run of just four points from twelve games. In addition, they have won just once in their past twenty-one games and have failed to keep a clean sheet in twenty-three games.

We may be in for somewhat of a surprise as Roberto Mancini has hinted that there will not be many changes to the side, however I imagine that Craig Bellamy would return to the side and there are still questions over whether Nigel de Jong will be risked given the possibility of a suspension should he pick up a yellow card. If he is left on the sidelines,

Under Mancini, we have now won all seven games when scoring first, and should we open the scoring we are likely to take the points given Burnley have yet to win when conceding the first goal of the game.

There is plenty to be wary of however given Burnley's predicament, and Mancini spoke of this ahead of the game:

"They have a number of good players and I think we have to respect their team and manager and they will be desperate to win this match because of their situation."

We also of course allowed Burnley to come away with a point earlier in the season in a result that was a key factor in Mark Hughes's dismissal. The defensive frailties and incosistency that plagued us earlier in the season has been eradicated by Mancini, albeit some of the more attacking intent has been sacrificied as a consequence.

The game is one of those that has the potential to be a banana skin, but as game as they are Burnley's lack of quality is beginning is being harshly exposed and we should be in for a comfortable afternoon.

Prediction? 2-0 victory with Carlos Tevez once again on the scoresheet.