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It’s played eight and won none so for the Clarets in the Premier League and that was clearly not the return we were looking for when we kicked off the season in August.

It’s the first of the long distance away games, with the bulk of them this season coming after the start of 2022, and this is one game that we really need to get something from.

A run of three successive games without defeat at St. Mary’s (two wins and a draw) came to end last season with the 3-2 defeat referred to below but defeat tomorrow would be a tough one to take given that Southampton are one of four teams above us who are close to being within striking distance.

Our return of three points is a record low from the first eight games of a Premier League season. Last season we’d just beaten Crystal Palace to move on to five points, but recent seasons have seen us do much better. We had 13 points at this stage of the 2017/18 season and two seasons ago we’d won 12 points.

I’ve kept suggesting we are playing well without winning and I thought our performance at Manchester City was as good as we’ve offered there since the second half of the 2-2 draw in January 2015 but as well as we’ve played there are only Newcastle and Norwich behind us in the table. Leeds are next and three points ahead of us; they are the only team we can catch this weekend should we win and they lose.

Last season, despite finishing as low as 17th, I never really thought we might be dragged into relegation given how poor the bottom three were. We can’t afford to be hovering down there much longer; we have to start getting the points our performances deserve because, if not, as sure as eggs are eggs, the confidence will drain and life will get much more difficult.

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Jack Cork, who returned to the team last week, enjoyed a spell with Southampton and he remains confident that we can pull away. “We are in a good place creating chances,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a game soon where everything just goes in, but at the moment it is just not going like that.”

He added: “We’re eight games in and many, many teams have had starts like this, even us last year, but with the experience and trust in the staff, you know we can get out of it.”

It was a reshuffled team last week. Ben Mee was ruled out again and joining him on the sidelines were Charlie Taylor and Matěj Vydra. All three could come into contention tomorrow which will given manager Sean Dyche more choice and a stronger bench.

There is no doubt that it would be harsh on Nathan Collins should Mee return but I think Dyche, if he can, will go with the players he trusts the most and we could line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Maxwel Cornet, Chris Wood, Matěj Vydra. Subs from: Wayne Hennessey, Connor Roberts, Phil Bardsley, Nathan Collins, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Jack Cork, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez.

Southampton managed last week what we are still to do this season, they won a Premier League game, beating Leeds 1-0 with a goal from Armando Broja (pictured below) early in the second half.

They had started the season with a 3-1 defeat at Everton but drew the next four games including a 0-0 draw against Manchester City at the Etihad, but they’d gone into the Leeds game having lost their previous two games at home to Wolves and at Chelsea.

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Like us, they’ve struggled to score goals. They are one ahead of us with six but just two of those have come at St. Mary’s. While none of our players have scored more than once, Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has found the net twice, both of them from the penalty spot, but he’s ruled out tomorrow with a suspension following a red card in the Chelsea game.

Jack Stephens is a long term casualty but, otherwise, they are at full strength with Ché Adams passed fit.

For their win against Leeds, the team was: Alex McCarthy, Tino Livramento, Jan Bednarek, Mohammed Salisu, Romain Perraud, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Ibrahima Diallo, Oriol Romeu, Moussa Djenepo, Armando Broja, Nathan Redmond. Subs: Fraser Forster, Kyle Walker-Peters, Lyanco Vojnovic, Shane Long, Adam Armstrong, Stuart Armstrong, Nathan Tella, Theo Walcott, Yan Valery.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

We’d just won 2-1 at Everton, confidence was high and that confidence lifted when we went 2-0 up within the first half hour through a Chris Wood penalty and a terrific finish from Matěj Vydra.

If we’d held that two goal advantage for any length of time I’m convinced we’d have won the game but Stuart Armstrong pulled one back within three minutes and they equalised just before half time through Danny Ings, his third goal in three games against us for the Saints.

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It had changed the game and it was no surprise when Southampton went in front just past the hour although there is no doubt that we were denied the clearest of penalties when Wood was fouled.

In the end a disappointing 3-2 defeat and the start of a problem still not resolved of us losing leads in games.

The teams were;

Southampton: Fraser Forster, Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Jannik Vestergaard, Ryan Bertrand, Stuart Armstrong (Mohammed Salisu 79), James Ward-Prowse, Ibrahima Diallo, Theo Walcott (Moussa Djenepo 87), Danny Ings (Ché Adams 86), Nathan Redmond. Subs not used: Alex McCarthy, Jack Stephens, Takumi Minamino, Nathan Tella, Will Ferry, Alexandre Jankewitz.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters (Charlie Taylor 33), Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Lewis Richardson 89), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Matěj Vydra (Jay Rodriguez 78). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Richard Nartey, Anthony Glennon, Dale Stephens, Jack Cork.

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