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1516 burnley turf moor 04After the long trip last Sunday, Burnley are back home tomorrow with a Premier League game against Everton and, for the first time in five weeks, we’ll be kicking off at 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s been tough going on our travels this season. Having not lost, home or away, last season after the Boxing Day loss at Hull we’ve suffered three successive defeats and conceded nine goals so it will be good to be back home where we’ve already secured seven points which would have been even more with a little bit of luck.

We face an Everton side who are currently sixth in the table having made an excellent start under new manager Ronald Koeman and this will represent another difficult fixture for us. We’ve already played three of the teams above them, two of them at home against Liverpool and Arsenal. In both of those games we had a considerable amount of defending to do. I don’t see it being any different tomorrow but the goals against column hasn’t been anything like as bad on the Turf with only three goals conceded in the five games so far.

Ben Mee, who has been a fixture in the centre of the defence since that Boxing Day defeat at Hull, has been very much part of that strong defence and he said ahead of this game, when the Clarets will come face to face with Romelu Lukaku, the only player to score a Premier League hat trick this season: “We have to be confident with teams coming to our place. We can’t hold any feat and, personally, I’m looking forward to the challenge that’s coming our way.

“We expect to do well at home, no different from any other team I guess. It’s going to be important for us this season, although we would like to pick up our away form as well. We are confident at home. We are a confident group. We were disappointed with last weekend’s performance so we are looking to get back and put on a good performance and get a win on Saturday. We believe we can do well at home and test these teams that come to our place.”

Mee will line up in a Burnley team that must show one change from that which was beaten last Sunday. Steven Defour, substituted just before half time with a hamstring injury, the first game he’s missed since signing for the Clarets in the week after the season kicked off.

Last week Aiden O’Neill came on for him and played just over half of the game but I suspect Sean Dyche might opt for a more experienced replacement from the off. He could, of course, opt to return to a 4-4-2 formation but with Andre Gray serving the last of his four match suspension, and Ashley Barnes still not ready for a return, it would mean Patrick Bamford getting a first start.

I suspect he might opt for Scott Arfield in a central role alongside Dean Marney and Jeff Hendrick and if so our team could be: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Scott Arfield, Dean Marney, Jeff Hendrick, George Boyd, Sam Vokes. Subs from: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Kevin Long, Aiden O’Neill, Michael Kightly, Patrick Bamford.

Everton have made a very good start to the season after not enjoying the best of seasons in 2015/16. They finished the season in the bottom half of the table and looking for a new manager. The fans had long since decided they needed a change of manager when they went to Anfield to face Liverpool in April on the back of a run of six league games without a win. That night they were shambolic in losing 4-0 and that served only to increase the pressure on Roberto Martinez.

By then, it was believed he could lose his job in the summer but when, three weeks later, they lost 3-0 at Sunderland he was removed immediately with one game of the season remaining.

Ronald Koeman, then Southampton boss, was always the target and eventually they got their man in mid-June, along with his brother Erwin who works as his assistant, and to add to that they also raided Leicester to recruit Steve Walsh to head their recruitment team.

Among their summer signings were goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg from Fulham, Swansea central defender Ashley Williams, Yannick Bolasie from Crystal Palace and West Ham’s Enner Valencia who is on a season long loan.

There was certainly not big 3-0 defeat at Sunderland this season. It was the same scoreline but with Lukaku getting all three in a win. They’ve also beaten West Brom away (2-1) and remain unbeaten at Goodison Park. Their only defeat came at Bournemouth where they were beaten 1-0 with former Claret Junior Stanislas scoring the goal.

There one other away game was a week ago when they became the first team to leave the Etihad with a point. It was a somewhat backs to the wall game with Stekelenburg twice saving penalties, firstly to deny Kevin de Bruyne and then Sergio Aguero.

Koeman, who will again be without the injured Leighton Baines, has suggested there could be changes from the team that played last week and much will centre on Ross Barkley who was left out with the manager suggesting it could be a wakeup call for the England midfielder.

Their team last week was: Maarten Stekelenburg, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams, Bryan Oviedo, Idrissa Gueye, Gareth Barry, Tom Cleverley, Gerard Deulofeu, Yannick Bolasie, Romelu Lukaku. Subs: Joel Robles, Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, James McCarthy, Enner Valencia, Ramiro Funes Mori, Mason Holgate.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

Everton arrived at Burnley two seasons ago with the Clarets having made a difficult start to the season. With eight games played we had only four points from four draws and were still looking for that elusive first victory.

It wasn’t to come in this game with us behind for all but thirteen minutes of the game as Samuel Eto’o turned in a master class in what was considered to be his only good performance for Everton.

Sean Dyche left Ben Mee out for this game, bringing in Stephen Ward at left back. That took our total of full internationals on the pitch at kick off to three, Michael Duff and George Boyd being the others, and we had two more on the bench in Matt Gilks and Ross Wallace. Everton started with eleven full internationals on the pitch and introduced two more as substitutes, those players having won a total of 546 caps. It rather put things into perspective.

It didn’t take them long, four minutes to be exact, before they were in front. We allowed Leighton Baines to find space down the left and fell behind as Eto’o got in front of Jason Shackell to turn home the cross.

Everton were totally dominating the game and that continued for the first quarter of an hour before we started to get a foothold in the game and when Romelu Lukaku gave the ball away our two strikers combined to equalise.

Lukas Jutkiewicz it was who benefited from Lukaku’s error and he saw the run from Danny Ings, played him in with an inch perfect pass and Ings took the ball round Tim Howard to slot into an empty net for his first ever Premier League goal.

Suddenly it was all Burnley. Scott Arfield came close and we were putting them under some pressure until it all changed just before the half hour when Lukaku made amends and restored Everton’s lead. It was scrappy. Ward got in a good block but it fell nicely for the Belgian striker whose scuffed shot deceived Tom Heaton.

We gave it a right go up to half time and again Arfield came close but we went in 2-1 down and then came out after the break and offered very little.

Everton clinched it with a third five minutes from time, a stunning finish from Eto’o who was very close to a hat trick right at the end after a Kieran Trippier howler, his shot coming back off the foot of the post with Heaton beaten.

In the end, we were well beaten by a very good Everton side.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Stephen Ward, George Boyd (Nathaniel Chalobah 86), Scott Arfield, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Marvin Sordell 84), Danny Ings, Lukas Jutkiewicz (Ashley Barnes 84). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Ross Wallace.

Everton: Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Antolin Alcaraz, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Steven Naismith, Samuel Eto’o, Leon Osman (Steven Pienaar 82), Romelu Lukaku (Ross Barkley 65). Subs not used: Joel Robles, Tony Hibbert, Darron Gibson, Besic, Aiden McGeady.

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