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Burnley are finally back in Turf Moor action tonight with Watford our visitors on what promises to be an untypically warm Burnley evening with temperatures still soaring.

We’ll be looking to get our season back on track following the heavy defeat at Manchester City on our return to action. It was a difficult watch, yet again, at the Etihad where we have become so used to losing by big scores. Those two draws on our first two visits are long in the memory now with no less than 22 goals conceded at the stadium in five games over the last three seasons.

It’s been a difficult restart for us. Alongside that 5-0 loss we’ve seen the departures of Aaron Lennon and Jeff Hendrick. Lennon might have only been a bit part player this season but Hendrick has been a big part of the squad for four years with only Ben Mee and Ashley Barnes, both of whom were involved for us in 2014/15, having played more Premier League games for the Clarets.

There is some good news. Phil Bardsley has signed a new deal which in the short term adds one to the match day squad. Bardsley will now be going into his fourth season back at Turf Moor and he’s proved to be a very good signing. Even at his age, he will celebrate his 35th birthday this Sunday, his re-signing has proved a popular one.

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One position where we’ve had consistency, in terms of personnel and performance, is in the centre of defence. James Tarkowski and Ben Mee have played every minute so far and Tarky is hoping for a better defensive display than three days ago.

He said: “Defensively we have been good all season. Monday night was disappointing, conceding that many goals, but it’s just one of those things when you come up against a team like that.

“We are looking forward to the game and hoping for a clean sheet. Our squad is not massive at the moment, so we need to make sure people are ready to go and play and put in a full performance over ninety minutes.”

He added: “We put ourselves in a great position before lockdown to sort of get ourselves in the top half of the table and we are looking above not down, so hopefully with a few positive results we can chase the people above us.”

Tarkowski will be in a squad that won’t change too much from Monday. Bardsley is back and there is a chance that young midfielder Mace Goodridge could be fit enough for a place on the bench. Manager Sean Dyche, who is reportedly at loggerheads with chairman Mike Garlick, and that revelation is absolutely no surprise, has confirmed that his injured foursome of Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood are all again ruled out.

I think he’ll bring Bardsley back in what is surely going to be the only change unless there are any further injury problems. That would see us line up: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra. Subs: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Lukas Jensen, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Bobby Thomas, Erik Pieters, Mace Goodridge, Max Thompson.

It’s been a strange season for Watford who had changed manager twice by early December. Javier Gracia lost his job in September with Quique Sanchez Flores coming back in for a second spell. It didn’t last long with Nigel Pearson the surprise choice, the first Englishman to manager Watford since Sean Dyche.

They were bottom when Pearson walked through the door with just eight points from 15 games, but things have improved and in the 15 games since they’ve added a further 20 points, just one point less than we’ve picked up in the same time.

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That’s given them more than a chance of avoiding the drop. Norwich look doomed while Watford, on 28 points, have one more point than all of West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa and with tonight’s game in hand. They won’t move position in the table no matter what the result while we could potentially move up three places.

Pearson withdrew both Kiko Femenía and Adam Masina (pictured above) in their return game, a 1-1 draw against Leicester, when they suffered injuries. Both are fit and available although they will still be without the injured trio of Gerard Deulofeu, Daryl Janmaat and Isaac Success.

Their team against Leicester, which saw Craig Dawson score a stoppage time equaliser, was: Ben Foster, Craig Dawson, Adam Masina, Kiko Femenía, Christian Kabasele, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Will Hughes, Ismaíla Sarr, Étienne Capouè, Roberto Pereyra, Troy Deeney. Subs: Heurelho Gomes, Adrian Mariappa, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Nathaniel Chalobah, Craig Cathcart, Andre Gray, José Holebas, Ignacio Pussetto.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

It’s some time since Watford were last at Burnley. They were our first Turf Moor opponents last season and that takes us back over 22 months.

It went Watford’s way too. They won the game 3-1 with early goals in each half. We’d hardly settles when former Claret Andre Gray scored the opener on three minutes but three minutes later we were level with James Tarkowski scoring his first Burnley goal.

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For the rest of the first half we were the better side and probably should have gone in with a lead. That all changed, however, in the first six minutes as first Troy Deeney and then Will Hughes netted to complete the scoring.

Things didn’t look good then and we never really threatened to get back into things with Watford, ultimately, deserving of the points with Burnley kick starting a run of four successive league defeats.

The teams were;

Burnley: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward (Charlie Taylor 74), Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jeff Hendrick (Sam Vokes 70), Chris Wood (Ashley Barnes 65). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson.

Watford: Ben Foster, Daryl Janmaat Craig Cathcart, Christian Kabasele, José Holebas, Will Hughes (Kiko Femenía 83), Abdoulaye Doucouré, Étienne Capouè, Roberto Pereyra, Andre Gray (Ken Sema 68), Troy Deeney (Isaac Success 89). Not used: Heurelho Gomes, Sebastian Prödl, Adrian Mariappa, Adam Masina.

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