Home again and it’s Hull
It seems an age since we beat Liverpool at home but in truth it is only three weeks ago although we’ve since been beaten at Accrington in the League Cup, lost at Chelsea and had a frantic last few days in the transfer window which saw Patrick Bamford and Jeff Hendrick arrive and seven players leave either permanently or on loan.
It will be good to get back home and try to build on that fantastic win against Liverpool, our first league success against them since 1974 when Ian Brennan scored at Anfield. But we know already this season that no game can be taken for granted. Swansea, on paper the weakest team we’ve played in the first three games, left the Turf with all three points from a 1-0 win. They haven’t won a point since.
Chelsea wasn’t good. We were far from at our best but I still think we’d have seriously struggled to get anything had we turned in a top performance. Chelsea, I though, were superb with some terrific individual performances within that team performance.
Much is said about who are the best teams to beat in this league. A win against Swansea would probably have been better than beating Liverpool, but you can’t pick and choose who you beat or take points off and again tomorrow, as it will be in every game, we’ll have to work hard to get anything from the game.
Tomorrow’s game will see Micky Phelan in charge of Hull against his old club, but there are two Burnley players who will be eagerly looking forward to coming up against a former club. Both Dean Marney, who has scored for both clubs against the other, and George Boyd were signed directly from Hull and Boyd is looking forward to getting the Chelsea defeat out of the system.
He said: “The beauty of the Championship is you usually have a game on the Tuesday to get a defeat out of your system, but we know we weren’t at our best against Chelsea. It was a reality check of the level we’re at, but on the other hand they were very, very good so you can’t get too downbeat about it. We feel we’ve had a good start and hopefully we can continue that into the Hull game.”
Boyd is looking positively at the season. “Inside the camp we are not looking at just surviving,” he said. “We are looking to push up the league and have the mentality within the four walls that we are not ‘little old Burnley’ and we deserve to be further up the league. We can definitely look at the positives from the start we’ve had and if we can get the result we want, I think six points from the first four games would be decent.”
Boyd is raring to go but for once it is not quite so simple to determine what team we might start with. We certainly improved at Chelsea when Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Aiden O’Neill came. To add to that, Jon Flanagan will be much closer to full fitness now while we’ve added Patrick Bamford and Jeff Hendrick to the squad since we last played.
There will certainly have to be one change, in any case, to the match day squad with Lukas Jutkiewicz, who was on the bench, now at Birmingham on loan until January, and Sean Dyche will still be without Ashley Barnes who is recovering from the hamstring injury he sustained in the pre-season friendly at Bradford City.
Maybe, reading between the lines, Bamford and Hendrick could be on the bench and it might just be the same starting eleven as played at Chelsea, but we will select from: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Dean Marney, Steven Defour, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray, Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Aiden O’Neill, Michael Kightly, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jon Flanagan , Jeff Hendrick, Patrick Bamford.
I can’t help thinking about last Boxing Day. We’d got through the floods to reach Hull only to see us beaten 3-0 with goals from Jake Livermore, Abel Hernandez and Sam Clucas. It was a third defeat in five games and we’d reached the half way point of the season with 38 points, a total suggesting we’d have a good chance of making the play-offs.
We were six points behind the next two, Hull and Brighton, while Middlesbrough, with a game in hand, had a further two points with Derby on top with one point more than Middlesbrough.
How things turned round in the second half of the season. As we went on an incredible run, Hull were still the fourth best side in the division during that second half, picking up 39 points to add to the 44 in the first half of the season. That 39 points was a massive 16 less than our total and in the end they had to settle for fourth place some way behind the top three.
They blew Derby away in the first leg of the play-off semi-final, sneaked through the second leg and then beat Sheffield Wednesday in the final with the solitary goal coming from Mohamed Diame.
They’d made it to a fifth season in the Premier League since 2008 and you would have thought things were on the up at the KC despite the silly owner still wanting to change the name of the club.
But oh no, firstly he upset all the fans again by introducing a membership scheme instead of season tickets, a scheme that cost a lot of fans their regular seats and saw many of them having to pay considerably more.
Things on the football side were no better. They weren’t signing players, much to the frustration of manager Steve Bruce and chief scout Stan Ternent and eventually Bruce said enough was enough and walked after four years there.
Micky Phelan stepped in but with no new signings and a pile of injuries they must have feared the worst when they kicked off the season at home against champions Leicester but incredibly they won, then won at Swansea and were only beaten in game three with a late Marcus Rashford goal against Manchester United. It’s all given ex-Claret Phelan the manager of the month award.
Not everything is perfect, the sale of the club to a Chinese consortium looks to have collapsed when significant obstacles emerged during the Premier League’s fit and proper person’s test, although they did have a busy couple of days to end the transfer window last week with six signings.
First in was Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall and he was followed on transfer deadline day by Ryan Mason (Tottenham) and the Manchester United pair Will Keane and James Weir. For good measure, later in the day, they added loan players Dieumerci Mbokani and Markus Henriksen from Dynamo Kiev and AZ Alkmaar respectively, Mbokani for the season and Henriksen until January after which the move will be made permanent.
They had one other major target. Earlier in the week they were confident of landing Jeff Hendrick from Derby but apparently he moved to another Premier League club.
Phelan is giving nothing away on team news. He’s still without central defenders Michael Dawson and Alex Bruce, goalkeeper Allan McGregor and right-back Moses Odubajo but there are no other injuries and he can select from the team that played against Manchester United plus the new boys.
That team was: Eldin Jakupovic, Ahmed Elmohamady, Jake Livermore, Curtis Davies, Andy Robertson, Sam Clucas, David Meyler, Tom Huddlestone, Robert Snodgrass, Adama Diomande, Abel Hernandez. Subs: Dusan Kuciak, Jarrod Bowen, Greg Olley, Josh Clackstone, Ben Hinchcliffe, Shaun Maloney, Harry Maguire.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
By the time Hull arrived at the Turf last season, we’d certainly closed the gap on them since the Boxing Day game. It was the first Saturday in February. At kick off, Hull were top of the league with a point more than Middlesbrough and we were four points behind them in third place having won four and drawn two since the previous meeting.
It had been a sad time at Turf Moor since the previous home game against Derby. Former great Ray Pointer had passed away after a long illness and a minute’s silence had been planned. Frank Teasdale, chairman from 1985 to the beginning of 1999 also died and was rightly remembered too as we stood in silence.
This was Burnley’s day. Hull were more expansive than I’d previously seen a Steve Bruce side play away from home but they were second best to us particularly in midfield where the game was won. Joey Barton was in superb form, covering just about every blade of grass on the pitch, and alongside him David Jones was at his majestic best.
It really was a good game. Hull played well and had to just to stay in the game. Against a side not as good as they were we would surely have had the game won by the interval, but it remained 0-0 and there was still much to play for.
I always felt it would need just the one goal and it came, eventually, with thirteen minutes remaining. We worked the ball down the left with Sam Vokes who found Andre Gray. He in turn back heeled the ball to Scott Arfield. His cross was met by Vokes, now in the middle but Hull managed to get the ball away from him but only to Barton. He fired in a shot that came back off goalkeeper Allan McGregor but Vokes did really well to claw the ball back from behind him and fire us to victory.
We were still third with this 1-0 win but now just a point behind the top two. The following day, on the message board, Lancasterclaret got it absolutely right when he wrote: “Yesterday was the first time the team reminded me of the performances of two years ago. If we can keep this up, then we have a real chance.”
We’d now gone seven games without defeat – could we stretch it even further in the next game at Reading?
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 90+2). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Fredrik Ulvestad, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly.
Hull: Allan McGregor, Moses Odubajo, Michael Dawson, Curtis Davies, Andrew Robertson, Robert Snodgrass, Jake Livermore (Tom Huddlestone 86), Isaac Hayden, Sam Clucas, Mohamed Diame (Sone Aluko 75), Abel Hernandez (Chuba Akpom 76). Subs not used: Eldin Jakupovic, Alex Bruce, David Meyler, Ahmed Elmohamady.Follow UpTheClarets:
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