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1617 burnley turf moor 02 1000x500Burnley’s incredible 2017/18 season will draw to a close today as we play our final game against Bournemouth at home with us already having secured 7th place in the table.

Four years ago, with our first promotion under Sean Dyche , I recall telling a couple of friends to savour it. “Seasons like this don’t come around very often,” I said, and could only really recall the 1972/73 season to provide any sort of comparison.

Don’t come around very often? We repeated it two years later, last season achieved safety in the Premier League for the first time and this season we’ve only gone an marched into a European place for next season. We might have to go through three qualifying rounds to actually get there for real, but that’s splitting hairs, we are in Europe.

It was Saturday last week, when Everton failed to beat Southampton, that it became a reality and my feet have hardly touched the ground since, other than that desperately poor afternoon last Sunday at the Emirates, and like everyone else, I’m piecing together all the other teams going into the competition and eagerly awaiting the draw next month.

But before all that, we’ve this season to finish and that brings Bournemouth to Turf Moor with Eddie Howe still in charge of the Cherries. When he departed Turf Moor for a return to Bournemouth, who could ever have imagined what would happen to the two clubs within the space of a few years?  We now bring the season to an end together knowing we’ll both be back again this season.

On the Friday night ahead of our trip to Chelsea last August, with the season about to start, I wrote in the preview: “I don’t think we’ll forget last season in a hurry. Although it petered out somewhat, we were actually safe with three games to go and to reach 40 points was some achievement, taking us seven points beyond our previous best in these recent Premier League years.”

It was some achievement. I don’t think any of us at the time could have ever envisaged what would happen this season, but it has and there have been no real negatives throughout, not even when we went on a run of eleven league games without a win.

I also wrote about the players who had moved on. Of Michael Keane, my words were: “Keane, for me, was our player of the season in 2016/17 but it was inevitable that he would leave. In a way he’s outgrown us and he’s joined a club in Everton who are closer than anyone to breaking into that top group of currently six clubs.”

Funny how things work out, but I do rate Keane. He’s had a difficult season, undoubtedly, but he’ll be stronger for it and we’ll see again just how good a player he is.

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As for the team. We know that both Ben Mee and Ashley Barnes are ruled out. Mee has been out for a few games now while Barnes picked up a shoulder injury at Arsenal that was, at least, not as bad as feared.

With Chris Wood fit again, I’d expect him to come in for Barnes in what could be the only change, although there is a chance that Scott Arfield could join Dean Marney on the bench.

Our team could be: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood. Subs from: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Charlie Taylor, Dean Marney, Scott Arfield, Georges-Kévin NKoudou, Nahki Wells, Sam Vokes, Jon Walters.

It’s been another good season for Bournemouth. They did drop into the relegation positions during December, but a good run of seven games without defeated lifted them well clear and they’ve not looked back, passing 40 points yet again.

They won successive away games at Stoke and Newcastle in October but their only other success on the road came at Chelsea where they pulled off a surprising 3-0 win at the end of January.

For today’s game, they are still without Adam Smith, Harry Arter and former Claret Junior Stanislas who are all injured.

Last week then ended their home programme with a 1-0 win over Swansea. Their team was: Begovic, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Nathan Aké, Ryan Fraser, Lewis Cook, Andrew Surman, Charlie Daniels, Josh King, Callum Wilson, Marc Pugh. Subs: Artur Boruc, Brad Smith, Ly Mousset, Tyrone Mings, Dan Gosling, Jordon Ibe, Jermain Defoe.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

Burnley kicked off a record breaking run of five consecutive home wins in December 2016 with a 3-2 victory against Bournemouth on the Cherries’ last visit to Turf Moor.

We scored twice in the opening 16 minutes of the game. Jeff Hendrick opened the scoring with a goal that won the Up the Clarets Goal of the Season by a big margin and his Ireland team mate Stephen Ward scored his first Premier League goal for us three minutes later.

Hendrick brilliantly controlled a ball forward from Matt Lowton before unleashing an unstoppable volley into the top corner. Ward’s was just as important but somewhat less spectacular, sweeping the ball home after Ben Mee’s header from a corner had been blocked on the line.

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It took Bournemouth well over half an hour to get into the game at all but they eventually started to get some of the play and they pulled one back in stoppage time at the end of the half through Benik Afobe.

We struggled at the start of the second half but the introduction of both Ashley Barnes and Andre Gray changed things in our favour.  That led to George Boyd securing the win with our third although Bournemouth brought a repeat of the first half by scoring again in stoppage time; the scorer this time was Charlie Daniels.

We couldn’t win away, but this had been our fifth home success.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jeff Hendrick, Dean Marney, Steven Defour (Ashley Barnes 55), George Boyd (James Tarkowski 90+2), Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes (Andre Gray 55). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Michael Kightly, Patrick Bamford.

Bournemouth: Artur Boruc, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Nathan Aké, Charlie Daniels, Adam Smith, Dan Gosling (Josh King 72), Harry Arter, Ryan Fraser (Marc Pugh 81), Benik Afobe, Callum Wilson (Jack Wilshire 59). Subs not used: Adam Federici, Tyrone Mings, Brad Smith, Jordon Ibe.

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