Clarets finally have an away league game
We are travelling to the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest, for the second time this season tonight, but this time it will be in the Premier League and our first away league game of the season.
With the Luton game postponed last month, and now scheduled to be played in fifteen days time, we are on the road for a league game for the first time in over twenty weeks, since we travelled to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol City in our final away game of last season, a game we won 2-1 with goals from Manuel Benson and Jay Rodriguez. It will be the first Premier League game on the road since we drew 1-1 against Aston Villa in May of last year and only Connor Roberts, Charlie Taylor, Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill who were in the squad that night are still available to us for this game.
This team is still coming together at this level and of the fourteen players who have started in the three home games so far, only Roberts and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson have played for us previously in the Premier League and six of those players have arrived at the club during this last summer transfer window. It is going to take time for them and the manager to get up to Premier League speed but we can’t wait forever and the current situation sees us go into the game in next to bottom place with far too many goals having been conceded. We kicked off the weekend bottom but moved up a place two days ago courtesy of Luton’s defeat at Fulham.
I read recently that this is just the fourth time we’ve lost all of our opening three games in a top flight season and in none of them have we been beaten; indeed in one of those seasons some 103 years ago we went on to become champions. While that is hardly going to happen this time round, I do think it’s just a matter of time before we start picking up points and moving up the table.
For some, there’s a concern as to where the goals might come from. Prior to this season, we’d scored 300 times in 304 Premier League games, just about one per game. This season it’s three from three so we are on par and it’s more than we scored in our opening three Championship games last season. I do think the goals will come and not just from Lyle Foster who has looked a different player this season than the one who came in from Belgium in January. We’ve got Manuel Benson and Anass Zaroury from last season and added players such as Aaron Ramsey, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Nathan Redmond, Zeki Amdouni, Luca Koleosho and Wilson Odobert.
It’s defensively where we have had the concerns with eleven goals conceded and at times we’ve looked far to vulnerable when the opposition have been attacking us, particularly on the counter, although admittedly we’ve come up against some outstanding players. Vincent Kompany, following the Spurs game, suggested that solving defensive problems is easier than those at the other end of the pitch. He knows plenty about defending and I’m sure he’ll get some of the issues sorted very quickly.
Hopefully that starts at Forest who we will be playing in a top flight game for the first time in over half a century. While we plummeted in football, they rose to their finest period under Brian Clough and that kept us apart for many years. Those last old First Division meetings came in the awful 1970/71 season. We won 2-1 at home in November, just the second win of the season, but lost 1-0 at the City Ground in February. Our goals against them that season were scored by Geoff Nulty and Eric Probert and Probert ended that season as our leading goalscorer with just five.
On that cup game, where the goal was his first in Burnley colours, he added: ““It’s really good to score of course and as an attacking player that’s what you’re there for and that’s what I set out to do. To score is great but just to win the match is your first priority, as you cross that line. Scoring was great and I hope it will continue.”
Amdouni has started all three league games this season and there is nothing to suggest that he won’t do so again tonight although we know that the manager has any number of options given the size of the squad. Three players suffered injuries in that cup tie at Forest with all of Vitinho, Aaron Ramsey and Hjalmar Ekdal substituted with less than an hour gone. All three missed the Spurs game but two of them are fit and ready. In Ramsey’s case, it was a matter of concussion protocols that forced him out of that game against Spurs. Ekdal, while his injury was nothing like as bad as first feared, is on the mend and could be back around the end of October.
We’ve also got Anass Zaroury available again, having served his three match ban, while, we’ve also got Han-Noah Massenga and Mike Trésor available, two players who signed just before the most recent game.
Last time out, in that game against Spurs, we lined up: James Trafford, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Dara O’Shea, Jordan Beyer, Connor Roberts, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Josh Cullen, Sander Berge, Luca Koleosho, Zeki Amdouni, Lyle Foster. Subs: Arijanet Muric, Hannes Delcroix, Jack Cork, Josh Brownhill, Manuel Benson, Nathan Redmond, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Wilson Odobert, Jay Rodriguez.
Forest swapped places with us just over a year ago. As we dropped down into the Championship they somewhat fortunately won that league’s play-off final against Huddersfield aided by some poor refereeing by Jon Moss and some woeful VAR decisions.
Once up, they struggled for some time, had a bit of a revival mid-season before slumping again and they sat in 19th place as late as the final week in April before ending the season with two wins and two draws to finish in 16th place. In the end, they had 38 points but it was their home form that kept them up. Only eight of those points were won on the road with one win at Southampton and five draws achieved at Everton, Brighton, Bournemouth, Chelsea and Crystal Palace, those final two draws coming in those last four games alongside home wins against Southampton and Arsenal. For so much of the season it seemed that manager Steve Cooper would lose his job, but he held on, kept them up and seems far more secure in the role now than at any other time since promotion.
This season, they’ve played just once at home, beating Sheffield United 2-1 and they’ve lost at Arsenal and Manchester United but won their last game at Chelsea. Anthony Elanga scored their goal in a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge, the first time in seven Premier League games in which Taiwo Awoniyi (pictured below) hasn’t scored; the last time he hadn’t scored in a league game for them was in their final defeat of last season at Brentford.
As we go into the game, they sit twelfth in the table with six points from four games and for tonight’s game but they will be without Danilo who isn’t expected to have recovered from the hamstring problem that forced him off during the win over Chelsea and both defender Sèrge Aurier and forward Anthony Elanga are facing late checks.
Their team could be somewhat different from that which won at Chelsea given the deadline day signings just ahead of that game. Their team at Stamford Bridge was: Matt Turner, Willy Boly, Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna, Sèrge Aurier, Orel Mangala, Ryan Yates, Ola Aina, Danilo, Morgan Gibbs-White, Taiwo Anoyini. Subs: Ethan Horvath, Nuno Tavares, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Chris Wood, Filipe, Moussa Niakhaté, Anthony Elanga, Gonzalo Montiel, Brando Aguilera.
LAST TIME WERE THERE
Yes, just nineteen days since we last played at Forest, but the most recent league game came in our 2015/16 promotion season. This was a midweek game in October, just four days before Scott Arfield Day at Ewood, and we arrived at the City Ground in fifth place in the table having just beaten Bolton 2-0 at home with two Andre Gray goals.
Sean Dyche was forced into a change with George Boyd missing for the first time since signing for us some fourteen months earlier; in came Matt Taylor for what proved to be his only league start of the season.
For the first hour of the game we were the better of the two teams, of that there was no doubt, but we just couldn’t get the breakthrough, and that led to a more difficult spell when we made some mistakes which ultimately gave Forest the lead. We gave the ball away cheaply and Forest eventually got the ball out to right-back Eric Lichaj who hammered home a shot into the bottom corner.
Dyche sent on Matt Lowton, for his debut and Michael Kightly and then we introduced Rouwen Hennings but Forest still led 1-0 going into the 90th minute. Then, they cleared a Lowton cross which was headed on by Joey Barton for Michael Keane. He pushed the ball forward for Scott Arfield who knocked it in for Sam Vokes who turned and laid the ball off for Taylor in the D. Taylor too one touch to get the ball onto his trusted left foot and then unleashed a stunning strike into net.
As we celebrated, the board went up for five extra minutes and we went on to put them under enormous pressure but just couldn’t find a winner, but it was another point for the Clarets.
The teams were;
Nottingham Forest: Dorus de Vries, Eric Lichaj, Jack Hobbs, Kelvin Wilson, Daniel Pinillos, Jamie Ward (Chris O’Grady 80), David Vaughan, Henri Lansbury, Ryan Mendes, Nelson Oliveira (Jorge Grant 77), Tyler Walker (Dexter Blackstock 69). Subs not used: Dimitar Evtimov, Danny Fox, Jonny Williams, Chris Burke.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa (Matt Lowton 84), Michael Duff, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Matt Taylor, Joey Barton, David Jones (Michael Kightly 84), Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 88). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Stephen Ward, Fredrik Ulvestad, Chris Long.Follow UpTheClarets:
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