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1920 burnley turf moor 02 1000x500Southampton are at Turf Moor tomorrow as we kick off the 2019/20 Premier League season. The pre-season is over, and we can now concentrate on the job in hand of winning points.

Just a year ago we played them at St. Mary’s on opening day but it hardly felt like opening day given we’d already played three competitive games in the Europa League and with another three to come. Sean Dyche has referred to this pre-season having been a normal one and that is fully understandable although I do have to admit that, despite its problems, I wouldn’t have minded another go in Europe.

It has been a normal pre-season. We played three games behind closed doors before going on the road to play clubs in League Two, League One and the Championship before the now regular friendlies against European opposition.

The summer has seen us bring in four players and four more full internationals no less. Erik Pieters and Jay Rodriguez arrived from Stoke and West Brom respectively just as the squad were on their way to Portugal for a training camp, Bailey Peacock-Farrell came in to fill the sizeable gap left by Tom Heaton’s departure and yesterday we plugged that hole in the centre of midfield with the loan capture of Danny Drinkwater. It takes the number of full internationals in the squad to 17 with an 18th, Nahki Wells, having gone to QPR on loan.

We finished one place and one point ahead of Southampton last season but both of us had good second halves to the season. We were a top half side with 28 points while Southampton’s 24 points kept them safely clear of the bottom three.

Of the new signings, one has captured the imagination more than the other three and that of course is the return of Jay Rodriguez who last played for Burnley in the 2011/12 season before moving to play for tomorrow’s opponents.

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Strangely overlooked by Owen Coyle when we won promotion in 2009, Jay is still to play top flight football for Burnley but that will come soon enough whether he starts tomorrow or not. He said of that: “It will be massive. I didn’t manage to get that last time. For me, it will be a really proud moment.

“This club has totally changed in the right direction and it’s something I feel really happy and lucky to be a part of and I’m just really excited to get going with it. To come back here is a real buzz for me and my family. it’s going to be a special moment and it’s something to be proud of.”

He added: “I’ve been really impressed with how we’ve prepared, the shape we’re in and I’m really looking forward to it. I think there’s no limit for the team. I think we have great quality and the togetherness here is really strong and it’s something really good to be part of.”

Will Jay start? I’m not so sure he will and I think that might go for the other new signings although I think it would be a massive surprise should either Bailey Peacock-Farrell or Danny Drinkwater play a part.

Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood scored nine goals in each in the second half of last season. There were a number of factors for our recovery and their partnership and goals was very much one of them and that’s why I think Sean Dyche will start with them.

Nick Pope, I’m sure, will be in goal and I think Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson is more likely to play than Jeff Hendrick on the right hand side.

We know Robbie Brady is out short term and we know Steven Defour is out longer term. I think we might just line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon, Jeff Hendrick, Matěj Vydra, Jay Rodriguez.

Southampton, like us, have made four signings although one of the four was there last season and the last one wasn’t announced until long after the window had closed. The one there last season will be easily recognisable as one of the strikers who played such a big part in our first promotion under Dyche. Danny Ings spent last season there on loan but with an obligation to buy which they have now done. He’ll be the only ex-Claret in the squad with the tantrum throwing Charlie Austin having moved to West Brom.

Che Adams, a Burnley target last January, arrived from Birmingham while they signed Moussa Djenepo from Standard Liège. They signed centre back Kevin Danso yesterday on loan from Bundesliga club FC Augsburg but only announced the deal today. He will not be involved tomorrow and will only meet his new team mates until after tomorrow’s game.

Djenepo has only been with the squad for a week having played in the Africa Cup of Nations for Mali but Hasenhüttl said he and Adams are both in contention for debuts. He also said that he had a very difficult decision to select the eleven to start and the seven substitutes.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

The recovery was underway. We’d won three successive games and drawn two before Southampton came to the Turf for a 1-1 draw that took our unbeaten run to eight games.

It was a day when, ultimately, we were thankful to get the point given the goal came from an Ashley Barnes penalty some four minutes into stoppage time. It remains the only Premier League penalty we’ve been awarded at home since 2017 and was given for handball against Jack Stephens who had been put under pressure by debutant and former Saint Peter Crouch.

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It equalised an opening goal scored by Nathan Redmond ten minutes into the second half on a day when the biggest talking point was one of the worst non penalty awards I’ve ever seen. For the life of me I’ll never understand how referee Anthony Taylor and his assistant Adam Nunn managed not to see Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy take Barnes out. It was a decision condemned by the pundits although I still wonder how Barnes wasn’t sent off for his protests after ridiculously being shown a yellow card for diving.

The result saw us drop back down to 17th in the table but 12 points from six games had seen us move close to the group directly above us, including Southampton who were now just two points ahead of us.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 58), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Robbie Brady 81), Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood (Peter Crouch 78). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Matěj Vydra.

Southampton: Alex McCarthy, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, Jannik Vestergaard, James Ward-Prowse, Callum Slattery, Oriol Romeu, Stuart Armstrong (Yan Valery 77), Matt Targett, Nathan Redmond (Charlie Austin 87), Danny Ings (Shane Long 27). Subs not used: Angus Gunn, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Alfie Jones, Josh Sims.

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