Burnley host Blackburn Rovers at Turf Moor in a blockbuster Sky Bet Championship clash.
Victory or at least a draw would see Burnley return to the summit whilst Blackburn can leapfrog their hosts with a win and go top heading into the mid-season break.
Jay Rodriguez is a doubt for Burnley after he missed their last two matches with a knock.
Arijanet Muric and Ian Maatsen are looking for recalls after they were both rested in the Clarets’ midweek Carabao Cup win against Crawley.
Ashley Westwood (ankle), Scott Twine (hip) and Darko Churlinov (unspecified) remain absent but are expected to return for the Clarets’ visit to QPR next month.
Blackburn have no fresh injury concerns to report following Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win at West Ham on penalties, as Ben Brereton Diaz looks to return to the starting line-up after he was utilised as a substitute in midweek.
Sam Barnes remains absent with a knee injury.
- Burnley are unbeaten in their last seven matches against Blackburn in all competitions (W4, D3).
- Blackburn are unbeaten in five of their last six league visits to Turf Moor (W3, D2, L1).
- Burnley have kept just two clean sheets in their last six East Lancashire derbies played within league competitions against Blackburn (W3, D3), which both came via 1-0 wins in 2015-16 season.
- Two of Manuel Benson’s three goals scored at home for Burnley this season came after half-time.
- Scott Wharton has been yellow carded in each of Blackburn’s last two away matches in the Championship, with both bookings collected during the second-half.
Leaky defending seems to be a huge issue for Burnley this season because even League Two’s Crawley managed to score against them in midweek, which is a worry yet they produced an excellent response to clinically snatch the win but defensive improvement is needed in this derby.
Blackburn meanwhile could of rolled over at West Ham and prioritised their promotion challenge yet they admirably used it as a chance to properly test themselves against top-flight opposition, with excellent attacking intensity and finishing amidst sloppy defending to force a win via penalties.
Jon Dahl Tomasson’s Rovers though will know that Burnley were only in the top-flight as recently as last season and having already beaten Watford in September, their confidence should be high coming into this match and the local derby factor will only motivate them further.
With that in mind, Burnley will need to be at their best because if their defence is still inconsistent, I can see Blackburn doing enough for at least a draw.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Blackburn
Result: Burnley 3-0 Blackburn