Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday December 31 2006
Stoke welcome in the New Year with a trip to that 'special' place in most Stoke fans' hearts - Turf Moor - home to Cotterill and his band of former Potters players.
Having said that, the Clarets started well this season, only losing 3 of their first 16 matches and climbing to third in the Championship, but their form in recent weeks has collapsed, only winning 1 of their last 10 outings (and that was at home to Leeds), culminating in a 2-0 away defeat to lowly Hull on Saturday.
Burnley should field all three former Stoke players, Gifton Noel-Williams, Wayne Thomas and James O'Connor. Top goal-scorer, Andy Gray is out after breaking his foot at the start of December.
GNW has five goals to his name this season and is now reported to be leaner and faster (whether meaner as well we'll have to see)
Tony Pulis is intending to juggle his midfield with the departure of Lee Hendrie, but that should mean a start for his Villa colleague, Patrik Berger, who come on for Hendrie on Saturday. Ricardo Fuller will face a late fitness test for a knock sustained against Leeds, if he is unavailable he will be replaced by Vincent Pericard
Although age is now doubt catching up with him, his 45 minutes at the Brit on Saturday showed some glimmers of his previous form. It was his shot that cannoned off the Leeds defender for Stoke's second and he had a hand in a couple more attempts on goal.
The earlier meeting this season saw Stoke on the end of a 1-0 defeat. With both sides' form now reversed it should be time to make amends.
Fri 5th Jan: Millwall (FAC - home) kick-off: 7.45pm
Sat 13th Jan: Wolves (home) kick-off: 3pm
Sat 20th Jan: Preston (away) kick-off: 3pm
Date:Sunday December 31 2006
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