Clarets in promotion driving seat
GRAND National Day, and Burnley enter the final furlong in the race for promotion.
After Leicester City all but guaranteed the title by inflicting a first home league defeat of the season on the Clarets, they remain the front runners in the race for second spot.
Queens Park Rangers sit nine points behind them in third, and 16 goals worse off. Derby County are 10 points adrift.
The chances of Sean Dyche’s side not going the distance seem slim. But with 21 points still up for grabs they know that more wins are still required before that Premier League dream becomes a reality.
It would perhaps be fitting for Dyche to take a step nearer the top flight at old club Watford today.
After an Italian takeover at the end of his first season in charge of the Hornets he was relieved of his duties at Vicarage Road.
Despite guiding the club to their highest finish in four years, the Pozzo family presumably thought the former captain could take them no further and installed Gianfranco Zola instead.
He returns today having made Burnley one of the best sides in the division just 17 months after his appointment, while mid-table Watford made another.
Harry Redknapp goes back to his old club today too, and the QPR boss will be acutely aware that with Bournemouth having an outside chance of the play-offs under former Clarets boss Eddie Howe it will by no means be an easy ride at the start of arguably the most demanding run-ins, with Nottingham Forest and Leicester still to play, and a fair amount of travelling to do.
Derby travel to Middlesbrough, where it is hard to pick up wins. Only three teams have managed it in the league this season and two of them are Leicester and, more recently, QPR.
Rival sides Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool could do Burnley a favour on Tuesday, and both have their own causes to fight so need the points as much as their opponents.
The Clarets, meanwhile, will be keen to break their Oakwell hoodoo at Barnsley.
The busy Easter period follows swiftly, and Burnley’s Good Friday trip to Blackpool has been earmarked as the one where the promotion party will begin with QPR having a tough assignment at Leicester, while there are no guarantees for Derby at home to Doncaster.
But the Clarets are in control of their own destiny in this seemingly three-horse race for second place.
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