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Defeats at Chelsea and at home against Manchester City have seen us drop two places in the table with both Newcastle United and tomorrow’s opponents Brighton & Hove Albion passing us but our lead over the bottom three has only reduced by one point to eight.

It’s been a tough run of fixtures with a trip to Liverpool and a home game against Aston Villa prior to the last two and some will say that this next group of fixtures are somewhat easier. That might be the case but they are definitely not easy games although all of our next four opponents are in the bottom eight.

We start tomorrow with the home game against Brighton who moved ahead of us on Wednesday night by repeating our Anfield result. They are a team we did the double against in the 2018/19 season but since their promotion they are the only two victories alongside four draws and the one defeat which came in this fixture at the end of last season.

Three of those draws have been 0-0 including this season’s game at the Amex back in early November when we picked up just our second point of the season and more significantly welcomed back Ben Mee for the first time since the end of June.

Victory tomorrow would take us back above Brighton. We will also go above Newcastle if we better their result at home against Southampton.

Although it is not one of the ‘super powers’ as Sean Dyche calls them tomorrow, we certainly can’t underestimate a Brighton team who have won three and drawn one of their last four games.

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Matt Lowton spoke about the game and said: “We’re not going up against teams like that (Chelsea and Manchester City) every well. Obviously we can beat them, as we proved at Liverpool, but it’s difficult to beat teams like that week in, week out. ”

He added” “It’s important for us with the games coming up that we start picking up points. If you are looking at the fixture list, these are the sort of games where we need to be doing that, so we’ll be going out there, getting on the front foot and hopefully making sure we are.”

He added: “The last four games were tough for us but we got six points from them, so we’ve still got a lot of confidence going into these games. We can’t take our foot off it at any point. We’re eight points clear but that can quickly turn around in this league, as we know.”

Lowton was on the bench for the first two Premier League games this season, was ruled out of the next two through injury but came in for the fifth game against Spurs and has held down the right back berth since and there is no reason to suggest he won’t be in the team tomorrow.

It’s a difficult one trying to determine what the team might be. Five players, namely Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, Robbie Brady, Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, were all missing in midweek and there is no guarantees that any of them will be available. I’m sure some of them would start if they were fully fit but it’s another case of counting the injured as it appears to have been for most of the season.

Should none of them make it, I’d expect the team to be the one that played Manchester City which was: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra. Subs from: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Richard Nartey, Anthony Glennon, Dale Stephens, Josh Benson, Anthony Gomez Mancini, Joel Mumbongo.

When Brighton were beaten at Manchester City in mid-January they had only won twice all season. They beat Newcastle 3-0 at St. James’ Park in their first away game of the season and in November they recorded a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa.

That was it until they won 1-0 at Leeds in mid January and they then followed that up with four points in two home games before winning at Liverpool two days ago. The first of the home games was a goalless draw against Fulham before they beat Spurs 1-0. That win against Spurs, their first at the Amex in 2021, equalled the number of home wins in the previous year with Arsenal the only side to lose to them in the Premier League throughout 2020.

That’s three wins and a draw in the last four games without a solitary goal conceded so they are arriving at Burnley with currently one of the meanest defences against a Burnley side that, as we know, are struggling to score. Brighton, with 24 Premier League goals, have just short of double our target but only Neal Maupay with seven, of which three have been penalties, has scored more than two goals. Defensively we are similar with Brighton having conceded one more than us.

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They will be without Solly March (pictured) tomorrow after he came off injured at Liverpool while both Joel Veltman and Alex Mac Allister face fitness tests. Manager Graham Potter said he was hopeful those two will make it.

They also have all of Tariq Lamptey, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Florin Andone, Danny Welbeck, Davy Pröpper and Jason Steele all out injured.

Their team at Liverpool, when Steven Alzate scored their winning goal, was: Robert Sánchez, Ben White, Adam Webster, Lewis Dunk, Yves Bissouma, Pascal Groß, Steven Alzate, Solly March, Dan Burn, Neal Maupay, Leandro Trossard. Subs: Christian Walton, Thomas McGill, Michael Karbownik, Adam Lallana, Jakub Moder, Jensen Weir, Aaron Connolly, Percy Tau, Andi Zeqiri.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

It was the last game of the season. Anything but a defeat would give us a best ever season in terms of points in the Premier League and a clean sheet would ensure Nick Pope at the very least a share of the Golden Glove. Unfortunately, neither happened, although it couldn’t take anything away from what had been another superb season for us.

We should have been in front early in the game but referee Jon Moss astonishingly waved away a blatant penalty when Dale Stephens fouled. Soon afterwards the clean sheet had gone when Yves Bissouma scored with a stunning strike that Pope could do nothing about.

It took us until just before half time to draw level and ours was a good goal too, if somewhat different. Erik Pieters played a terrific ball forward for Chris Wood. He brought it under control with his first touch on his right foot; the second touch was a left footed shot into the corner across goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

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It was Brighton who went on to win it 2-1 in the second half when Aaron Connolly scored five minutes into the second half. The ball had gone out of play down the flank first but even so it should have been cut out.

A great season had ended with a defeat and the 54 points we’d accrued was equal to the total won in 2017/18 when we won a place in the Europa League qualifiers.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Robbie Brady 75), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez (Matěj Vydra 78), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Anthony Glennon, Mace Goodridge, Josh Benson, Max Thompson, Joel Mumbongo.

Brighton: Mat Ryan, Adam Webster, Lewis Dunk, Dan Burn, Tariq Lamptey, Yves Bissouma (Davy Pröpper 73), Dale Stephens, Solly March (Bernardo 73), Alexis Mac Allister (Aaron Mooy 74), Aaron Connolly (Glenn Murray 90), Neal Maupay (Alireza Jahanbakhsh 90+3). Subs not used: David Button, Martín Montoya, Leandro Trossard, Pascal Groß.

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