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1718 burnley turf moor 04 1000x500Tomorrow sees us play at home against Leicester just three weeks after we’d beaten Tottenham Hotspur to all but end their title hopes while moving us into 13th place in the table.

It was, arguably, our finest ever performance in the Premier League and the buzz around the Turf after the game suggested we all thought that avoiding relegation was all but in the bag. But things change quickly. Three days later we were poor at Newcastle, losing 2-0, and we’ve lost twice since then against Crystal Palace and Liverpool to drop back to 17th, just one place above the drop zone.

The Spurs win had taken our unbeaten run to eight games, five wins and three draws. We knew it would come to an end but probably none of us expected it to be so abrupt with three defeats. Now we need to start getting points again and quickly and there is no better time to start than tomorrow when Leicester visit the Turf.

This was a team that were building up a good record at Turf Moor but we’ve put a stop to that in the last couple of years with wins against them and what a time it would be to make it three successive home wins.

Right-back Phil Bardsley said as much when he spoke to the media this week. “An eight game unbeaten run in the Premier League is something the top teams do,” he said. “Now it’s up to us to try and get back to that form we were showing in those games and get some points on the board we need to get up that table.

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“We know it’s going to be a difficult game. They’ve got some exceptionally good players, but we believe, at home, on any given day we can compete against anybody and Saturday will be no different. You can’t be looking past the Leicester game on Saturday. All our focus will be on that and we’re really looking forward to it.

“We had a disappointing week, but we know how things can change really quickly in this game and hopefully we can do that. We really want to put on a performance and get the three points we need.”

Bardsley had been in the team but was left out, fortunately for him, for the Boxing Day disaster against Everton. Matt Lowton returned but picked up a yellow card that landed him a one match ban which gave Bardsley a quick return against West Ham. He’s retained his place in the team since then.

Aaron Lennon is on his way back; he could play again this season, but it is likely to be next season before we see Steven Defour in action again. Those two and Jonathan Walters apart, it’s a fully fit squad that Sean Dyche will select from.

Since naming his team for the home win against West Ham at the end of December, Sean Dyche has made only two changes to his starting line up. Jeff Hendrick came in for the injured Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson for the Fulham game on 12th January. He’s kept his place since, moving into the middle at Newcastle with JBG returning for one game due to Ashley Westwood being hit with illness.

I said last week, ahead of Liverpool, that if there are to be any changes then it is going to be in the wide positions with both Guðmundsson and Robbie Brady itching to get back in. I think Brady will have to wait a while longer given Dwight McNeil’s performance at Anfield which leaves the right hand side the likely position for a change should Dyche think it is appropriate.

If he does, then the team could be: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra, Peter Crouch.

Leicester were Premier League champions less than three years ago. Although their fans seem to think no one else has ever done it, and might try to tell us again tomorrow as they do each time we go to the King Power, we might wish to remind them that we’ve been champions of England twice as many times as then.

Their legacy for winning the Premier League is actually sacking their manager during each of the following seasons. They won it with Claudio Ranieri but he was gone by February of the following season. His replacement Craig Shakespeare lasted until the following October when Claude Puel came in and we was fired less than three weeks ago, a move which saw Brendan Rodgers arrive from Celtic.

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They lost their first game under Rodgers at Watford but beat Fulham last week with Jamie Vardy (pictured) scoring twice to go past 100 goals for Leicester. That win has taken them into the top half of the Premier League. They’ve not been below 12th all season and they were as high as 7th on New Year’s Day after winning at Everton, one of five away wins this season.

Puel was to last six more league games after that Goodison Park win. They brought just one point from a draw at Liverpool. They’ve won two out of three since, the first of them against Brighton with Mike Stowell as caretaker.

They will be difficult opponents. Much has been said of their constant changing of managers and the possible influence the players have on that, but once the new man comes in they seem to take off again.

With Rodgers having only been in charge for two games, it is difficult to determine what their team might be although, with all of Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey and Burnley fan Matty James ruled out, there are suggestions he could go for the same team that beat Fulham.

If that is the case, they will line up: Kasper Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, Demarai Gray, Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes. Subs: Danny Ward, Christian Fuchs, Wes Morgan, Rachid Ghezzal, Napmalys Mendy, Kelechi Iheanacho, Shinji Okazaki.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

When Leicester came to Burnley in April last year, they were our closest rivals for seventh place in the Premier League and a route into the Europa League. With six games to go we held a six point advantage over them and our 2-1 win all but assured that we would make it.

We’d won our previous four games, the last three away from home, but this was to be our last win of the season with only two more points collected from our final five games. It was an afternoon when we got off to the best possible start too.

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It took us just six minutes to take the lead. A ball from Jack Cork was deflected into the path of Ashley Barnes whose reverse pas to striker partner Chris Wood was top drawer. Wood got in an early shot that Kasper Schmeichel saved but he could only put the ball right back into Wood’s path and he made absolutely no mistake from a tight angle.

Three minutes later, the lead was doubled. Matt Lowton’s superb pass forward for Wood led to us getting a corner.  Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, back in the side after injury, took it and found the towering Kevin Long who headed home his first ever Premier League goal.

By the time Leicester pulled one back, through Jamie Vardy, there were just 18 minutes remaining, by which time they were in the ascendancy. But there were to be no more goals as the Burnley fans sang “We’re all going on a European Tour’. We’d won five successive games and gone past fifty points.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Chris Wood (Jeff Hendrick 75), Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 85). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Charlie Taylor, Dean Marney, Nahki Wells.

Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel (Ben Hamer 86), Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell, Riyad Mahrez, Hamza Choudhury, Adrien Silva, Demarai Gray (Fousseni Diabaté 64), Shinji Okazaki (Kelechi Iheanacho ht), Jamie Vardy. Subs not used: Christian Fuchs, Aleksandar Dragovic, Marc Albrighton, Harvey Barnes.

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