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1920 burnley turf moor 05 1000x500We go into tomorrow’s game against West Ham United on the back of three successive defeats and it is the last of those defeats, last week’s 3-0 reverse against Sheffield United, that’s caused something of a reaction this week.

That result has taken the Blades into sixth place in the table and the only other teams who have beaten us are currently all above them, so there is certainly no need for us to panic at all although undoubtedly we don’t want many performances similar to that at Bramall Lane.

Things were looking really good for us after the win against Everton which came just before the last international break. We returned from that break with what I thought was an unfortunate defeat at Leicester and we were then beaten comfortably by Chelsea, despite the two late goals. Then came Bramall Lane, so often a poor ground for Burnley.

“Up for grabs,” Sean Dyche said about the places in the team for this weekend. Erik Pieters was the player hooked at half time so maybe it was something of a surprise that he was the first player the club fronted to discuss the situation.

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He said: “When you play West Ham at home, you have a chance at three points and I think this one just before the international break is an important one. It is a massive game and of course the gaffer will expect a response, so we have to be fully ready and make sure we can be on the right track again.”

He added: “Sometimes one game is what it takes to change it around, but I don’t think there is a good time or a bad time to play a team. Games come quick, so we have to be ready and we have to look at ourselves. We want to stop those three defeats in a row, make sure we don’t make it four, and a good win will make that even better.”

It’s a week when you probably can’t really second guess the team but I do think fit again Chris Wood will partner Ashley Barnes up front. All our points this season have come with them starting, it is exactly one year since we last picked up a point when they didn’t start together, that was the 0-0 draw at Leicester.

I do think Charlie Taylor will come in for his first start of the season but other than that, it could be same again which would see us line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.

West Ham come into the game one point and one place ahead of us in the table but they too are not in the best of form with only two points from their most recent five games. Those points have come in draws at Bournemouth and at home against Sheffield United with three of the last four ending in defeat at home against both Crystal Palace and Newcastle sandwiching a 2-0 loss at Everton.

Their three wins this season have come at home against Norwich and Manchester United and their one success on the road was at Watford where they won 3-1 in August.

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Captain Mark Noble (pictured), has said: “What we need to do more than anything at Burnley on Saturday is to be brave. When things are not going well and confidence is taking a hit, it’s easy to go into your shell, but that attitude is the last thing we need. When we were at our best, beating Watford, Norwich and Manchester United, we were playing some exhilarating football and we can do that again.”

Michael Antonio has been ruled out of the game while midfielder Jack Wilshere will be assessed before a decision is made on whether he can play. Antonio hasn’t featured since August but is expected to be fit within the next week. Wilshere came on as a substitute at Everton three weeks ago but hasn’t featured since. Also out of the reckoning are goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and New Zealander Winston Reid.

That last game, the 3-2 home defeat against Newcastle saw them come from 3-0 down to almost snatch a point. The West Ham team a week ago was: Roberto Jiménez, Pablo Zabaleta (Ryan Fredericks 72), Fabián Balbuena, Issa Diop, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice, Andriy Yarmolenko (Manuel Lanzini ht), Mark Noble (Albian Ajeti ht), Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Sebastien Haller. Subs not used: David Martin, Carlos Sánchez, Pablo Fornals, Angelo Ogbonna.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

West Ham arrived in Burnley last season for the final game of 2018 and we were in something of a mess. Four days earlier we’d been beaten 5-1 at home by Everton and that had left us with 12 points at the half way stage of the season. We were in the bottom three with only Fulham (one point) and Huddersfield (two points) behind us and they were playing each other on the same day.

Sean Dyche had to make one change with Matt Lowton, who had just been recalled for the Everton game, serving a one match ban but Joe Hart, Ben Gibson, Jeff Hendrick and Sam Vokes all lost their places. Of that four, only Hendrick has since started a Premier League game for us and neither Hart nor Gibson have featured at all.

In came Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Dwight McNeil and Chris Wood and finally we all headed home with smiles on our faces after a 2-0 win, only our fourth win of the season.

Two of the players who stepped up, Wood and McNeil, scored the goals but it was the return of club captain Heaton that lifted the crowd from the moment the teams came out.

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Both goals came in the first half with Wood getting the first after a quarter of an hour of Burnley domination. It was Heaton who started the move when he came out of his box to head the ball away. It found Ashley Westwood with both McNeil and Jack Cork getting involved before the ball went back to Westwood who played a delightful ball up to Ashley Barnes. Wood latched onto his cushioned header and gave Lukasz Fabianski no chance.

McNeil got the second, his first ever in the Premier League. A ball in from James Tarkowski found him but it eventually got back out to the right for Westwood to cross and this time he was coming in at the back post to score and in doing so became the first, and currently only, teenager to score a Premier League goal for us.

West Ham never threatened to get back into it although Heaton did make one brilliant save right at the end to deny them. It was Burnley’s day and, although we stayed in the bottom three, the recovery was underway.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood (Sam Vokes 90+1). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Ali Koiki, Jeff Hendrick, Matěj Vydra.

West Ham: Lucasz Fabianski, Michail Antonio, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Robert Snodgrass (Grady Diangana ht), Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic (Xande Silva 73), Lucas Pérez (Andy Carroll ht). Subs not used: Adrián, Arthur Masuaku, Conor Coventry, Pedro Obiang.

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