Blogs & Opinion

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Cem Takaci on Making his mark

"Hi Guillem, all of this hype sourounding jose mourinho and the saying that the wave is swinging for real madrid right now. But once Jose leaves and it does seem that he will if not this... " View all comments

Gary Bennett on Reading crashers

"Leeds have thrown away too many games this season with our dodgy defence conceding too many soft goals.Scoring goals has not been a problem and i think the play offs are still there to ... " View all comments

Stuart Mcdermott on The thin blue line

"Jamie, superb article as always! I have to say that, as always, you're spot on. Arsenal have no momentum going into the last 5 games and i can't see them getting the results they ... " View all comments

Siyavuya Zamxaka on Awesome foursome

"wonderfull column as always...I think Madrid have a better chance of winning the Cup game in all of these 4 games. This is because Mourinho can play any system and not worry about how ... " View all comments

Trevor Fuller on Running on empty

"Hi Phil, Another interesting & thought-provoking article here! One thing I'd like to know is, if you compare this situation currently with clubs in the NRL in Australia or New ... " View all comments

Joe Rose on It's handy Carroll!

"I'm a big fan Chris, great column as usual. I'm one of many happy baggies fan, who are hailing Roy Hodgson for the work he has done. Firstly under Di Matteo we played good football but ... " View all comments

Burnley v Leicester: Expect fight to finish as Championship top two square off

Opinion - Peter Beagrie Posted 27th March 2014 view comments

In the footballing equivalent of High Noon, Saturday's shootout between the Championship's top two will be all guns blazing.

Both Leicester and Burnley have been the model of consistency this season, with minor adjustments as opposed to major surgery seeing camaraderie, spirit and belief grow - and 13 and 10-point advantages respectively develop over third-placed QPR.

Vokes: the Burnley hotshot has grown under Dyche, says Beags

Vokes: the Burnley hotshot has grown under Dyche, says Beags

Burnley can knock Leicester off top spot with a win by three goals or more, which is incredible considering the Foxes have gone 18 games unbeaten, winning 13 of those, albeit neither of the last two against Blackburn and Yeovil.

Four of the leaders' five defeats have come away from home, with this stellar run coming off the back of successive losses on the road to Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton in early December.

Burnley were Leicester's next opponents - they got a hard-fought 1-1- draw - and that led to them winning nine on the spin, including victories over top-six rivals QPR, Reading and Derby before Watford got a point at the King Power.

Sean Dyche, meanwhile, has done a remarkable job at Burnley.

Harshly treated at Watford, he is not bitter and has strengthened his resolve, with the Clarets benefitting from his pragmatic, organised and philosophical approach.

Sean trusts his players and his players trust him, with Burnley a team in every sense of the word, and, much like Leicester, having important partnerships all over the pitch.

Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, like David Nugent and Jamie Vardy, grab the goals and headlines but David Jones and Dean Marney (midfield) and Michael Duff and Jason Shackell (defence) have been vital.

Burnley's squad, unlike Leicester's, looked wafer-thin at times so the January arrival of Ashley Barnes was paramount and has helped them cope with temporary loss of Ings, as the last couple of games can testify.

Chris Baird has been an able deputy for Mr Assist Kieran Trippier - who along with Leicester's Ritchie De Laet is one of the best attacking full-backs in the Championship - while Junior Stanislas and Keith Treacy offer creativity and width in the final third, from the start or off the bench.

Leicester's three-point advantage, game in hand and superior goal difference makes them favourites to win the title, but Burnley, still unbeaten at home this term, can be proud of their achievements so far.

Dyche will make sure they do no rest on their laurels and with four of the top eight to play in the final seven games, the season will not get any easier.Here are some of the players I expect to play starring roles on Saturday, regardless of the outcome...


Sam Vokes

An equal not a sidekick on the deadly 46-goal partnership with Ings, Vokes has fulfilled the potential and promise of his youth under Dyche's tutelage. He is fitter and more mobile than previous years and benefitted from playing week in, week out, becoming a focal point and target man and scoring all kinds of goals, as well as being a tower of strength defensively.

Scott Arfield

Arfield has occupied a wide berth for most of the season and not his preferred central position, but he has got his name on the scoresheet seven times. He has made big contributions in big games and Burnley are still unbeaten in matches in which he has netted. Arfield has forged a brilliant understanding with Trippier, drifting in off the line and then supplying the overlapping full-back. A virtual ever-present, Scott is a vital cog in this well-oiled machine.

Jason Shackell

The big man alongside Duff has been in imperious form this season. A natural leader and communicator, his size means he is rarely anything other than dominant in the air and he has helped ensure the Clarets, alongside Brighton, have the meanest defence in the division.


Kasper Schmeichel

The Great Dane has produced some great saves, specialising, like his father, in one-on-one situations. Unbelievably confident and assured, he has almost certainly had more assists than any other 'keeper due to his vision and accurate distribution, with Nugent and Vardy immediately on the move once the ball is in his possession.

Riyad Mahrez

The 22-year-old French-Algerian is an exciting new addition and definitely Premier League material. Quick and mobile with great quality, he is enjoying an extended run in the side and Burnley will do well to close him down early so he doesn't get a sight of goal. Mahrez possesses a wonderful left foot and is every bit as skilful as Anthony Knockaert but with Lloyd Dyer's pace. It's a deadly mix.

Jamie Vardy

The £1million signing from Fleetwood has outscored his brilliant partner Nugent in recent matches and his tally of 16 goals includes nine in his last 13 matches. Vardy's thirst for work and elusive movement matches that of the more experienced Nugent and after taking a season to settle and believe he belongs at this level, he will test Burnley's centre-backs to the limit and exploit any space given to him. With bundles of energy, a Non-League mentality and added polish, he is a potential match-winner.

Post to your View!

Be the first to post a comment on this story

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Experts:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....


Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....


Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....


Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....


Jeff Stelling

Battle for survival

Jeff Stelling hopes Sunderland can scrape to survival like his beloved Hartlepool did this week....

Paul Merson

Arsenal must win

Paul Merson says Arsenal have to have a right go and beat West Ham to keep their top-four bid alive....

Jamie Redknapp

Double delight?

A year on from 'bite-ban', Luis Suarez should clinch the title and PFA Award, says Jamie Redknapp....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....


Peter Beagrie

Transfer target

Beags says top sides are after Ross McCormack and picks his Championship boss of the season....

Stuart Barnes

Rhythm and flow

Stuart Barnes says video referees are ruining the rhythm of games and causing too many delays....

Luke Dorn

Obstructing the law

When is obstruction not obstruction? Luke Dorn offers up an easier option to replace the current ruling....

Bob Willis

Away for a while

Bob Willis thinks Jonathan Trott will be absent from England duty for some time following his relapse....

Rob Lee

Out of the woods

Rob Lee heralds the return to form of Lee Westwood and says he could yet win multiple majors....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Barry Cowan

Barcelona bounce

Barry Cowan says Rafa Nadal must bounce back in Barcelona and hails the form of Stan Wawrinka....

Mark Petchey

Fillip for Ferrer

Mark Petchey marvels at David Ferrer's win over Rafael Nadal but downplays it's long-term significance....

Alex Hammond

Strong to the finish

Alex Hammond previews the action at Sandown, including the final day of the National Hunt season....

Alex Hammond

Just Cause

Alex Hammond reveals her tips for the Irish Grand National and the other decent racing in Ireland this weeend....

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Glenn McCrory

Change is coming

The Klitschko brothers' heavyweight domination will be over within two years, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Battle of Manchester

From Crolla's derby delight to Munroe's emotional farewell - Saturday had it all, says Johnny Nelson....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

View from America

The Fog of War

Simon Veness reviews the "torturous" hype ahead of the NFL Draft and why it's so hard to predict....

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....


Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....


Kelvin Tatum

Gear shift

Wolverhampton and Belle Vue will want to kick-start their seasons on Tuesday night, says Kelvin....

Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....


Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......


Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....


Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....


Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...


Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....


Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....