When Saturday Comes
On Saturday 28th April we drew 0-0 at home against Brighton. That’s 21 weeks ago and when we play Bournemouth tomorrow this will be our first Saturday game since. At the time we were seventh in the Premier League and that draw confirmed our place in the Europa League qualifiers; tomorrow, finally playing on a Saturday again, we go into the game bottom of the league.
It’s certainly not the start to the season we were looking for. We did well enough at Southampton and then looked the better side in the first half against Watford, but the two goals early in the second half in that Watford game condemned us to defeat. We’ve not looked good since and the last two away games at Fulham and Wolves really have been very disappointing performances.
Sean Dyche himself said this week that we’ve come away from what we are in a couple of games and I’m pretty sure it was those two he was thinking about. As I wrote last week, the record books will show we only lost by one goal at Wolves, but those who saw it will know just how close we were to taking a battering.
We’ve got to forget Wolves now; we’ve got to forget what’s gone and concentrate on what is to come. We need to get our season on track. We need more from the players and they need us to be right behind them, starting tomorrow.
There was little to impress at Molineux, other than the goalkeeping of Joe Hart, but Matěj Vydra offered something when he came on early in the second half for the desperately disappointing Ashley Barnes.
We signed Vydra late in the window and he hadn’t had a full pre-season. He was given time to get himself fully fit and, to date, has made three substitute appearances including his debut when he got our late equaliser against Olympiacos. No one came closer to scoring for us last week at Wolves.
He’ll be hoping to get his opportunity soon and said at yesterday’s press conference: “I feel 100% fit and now it’s up to me to show what a striker I am and what quality I have. I know it’s not only about me. if you want to keep a clean sheet it’s about ten other people on the pitch and if you want to score goals, it’s about defenders as well, but I am ready to do everything.”
He added: “I remember thinking after my first training session here. I thought ‘wow, there’s some good players here’. We have shown on the training pitch we are good, we just need to bring that into the games now.
“It’s been a very hard start for Burnley, but nothing is easy in the Premier League. Now we have to be focused for Saturday and try to be our best. I think it will be good after a few wins. I want to help with that and I am ready.”
He’s in a squad tomorrow that will again be without Steven Defour and Robbie Brady. It’s a long time since we had either of them available, even longer both of them, but the time is getting closer when both are fit to return. Maybe, hopefully, this will be the last time I have to preview a Premier League game confirming the absence of both of them.
Ben Gibson hasn’t been available for the previous two games and he’ll now be out for a few weeks after undergoing hernia surgery, but other than that we are fully fit and hopefully ready to go.
It’s still difficult trying to second guess the manager’s potential team selection, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see full backs Matt Lowton and Stephen Ward return. Phil Bardsley and, in particular, Charlie Taylor were given a torrid time last week.
Other than that I think it could be a similar team although I suspect Chris Wood might return at the expense of Ashley Barnes with Ashley Westwood coming into the midfield with Jeff Hendrick pushing forward again.
We could line up: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood. Subs from: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Matěj Vydra, Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes.
The last Burnley player to score a goal on a Saturday by the way? That was Kevin Long in the 2-1 home win against Leicester on 14th April.
Bournemouth have certainly started the season better than we have. They are currently in the lofty position of fifth having won three of their opening five fixtures. They’ve beaten Cardiff and Leicester at home and also won at West Ham. They drew at home against Everton with their only defeat coming at current league leaders Chelsea.
They’ve already reached double figures with ten goals scored with Ryan Fraser leading the way with three of them, two in last week’s 4-2 win against Leicester.
Fraser (pictured above) is expecting a tough game physically. He said this week: “They (Burnley) will try to smash me, try to tackle me hard and bully me, but there are so many teams who have tried it and I just get one with it. In Scotland I got snapped every week by bad challenges. There are ways round it.
He scored the first two last week with Josh King netting a penalty and Adam Smith adding a fourth before Leicester came back with two goals in the closing minutes to put some respectability on the score.
Manager Eddie Howe reported that Charlie Daniels and Kyle Taylor are his only doubts. Daniels missed the Leicester game while Taylor has picked up a calf problem. They will still be without former Claret Junior Stanislas; he’s been out for some time following knee surgery but, like Defour with us, made a return in the under-23s this week.
Bournemouth’s team against Leicester was: Asmir Begovic, Adam Smith, Steve Cook, Nathan Aké, Diego Rico, David Brooks (Simon Francis), Jefferson Lerma (Lewis Cook), Dan Gosling, Ryan Fraser, Josh King (Lys Mousset), Callum Wilson. Subs not used: Artur Boruc, Andrew Surman, Jordon Ibe, Jermain Defoe.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
It was the final game of the season. Our hopes of finishing higher than sixth had ended the week before with the big defeat at Arsenal, so all that was left was for us to end the season with a good performance and result against a Bournemouth team who had never won a game at Turf Moor with a hope that there might be some involvement from Scott Arfield and Dean Marney who had both opted to move on at the end of the season.
We got none of it. Despite going in front six minutes before half time, we conceded an equaliser with just over a quarter of an hour remaining and then presented Bournemouth with that first ever Turf Moor win with a goal three minutes into stoppage time.
For much of the second half our lead wasn’t threatened but Matt Lowton and Jack Cork messed things up and presented Josh King with the opportunity to fire in an equaliser and then deep into stoppage time, Kevin Long changed his mind on a pass, slipped and let in Jermain Defoe. He played it across for Callum Wilson who won it for Bournemouth with his first goal since January.
All that was left was the chance for Dwight McNeil to get onto the pitch for his debut. We all left disappointed with the final result, delighted with the season and looking forward to the draw for the Europa League 2nd qualifying round.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon (Dwight McNeil 90+4), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Nahki Wells 80), Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood (Sam Vokes 61). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Charlie Taylor, Georges-Kévin NKoudou.
Bournemouth: Asmir Begovic, Tyrone Mings (Jermain Defoe 66), Steve Cook, Nathan Aké, Ryan Fraser, Emerson Hyndman (Dan Gosling 59), Andrew Surman, Charlie Daniels, Lys Mousset (Callum Wilson 59), Josh King, Jordon Ibe. Subs not used: Artur Boruc, Brad Smith, Marc Pugh, Kyle Taylor.Share this page :