Home again to face Wolves
We’ve played six games since the Premier League was restarted but only two of those games, against Watford and Sheffield United, have been at home but Wolves are at the Turf tonight with just two games to follow, at Norwich City and then, finally, at home against Brighton & Hove Albion.
It does seem a long time ago since we last played Wolves. This is the third last game of the season but our game at Molineux, played on a seriously hot day, was the third game from the start of the season.
One of the memories from that day was the Ben Stokes innings at Headingley that sensationally won us the Ashes test match against Australia. As for our game, we played ever so well that day and were robbed of a win with a stoppage time penalty decision against us that was soft and that’s if I’m being kind to referee Craig Pawson.
It was probably a good time to play them. It was, for them, a third successive draw to kick off the season and they only took two points from the next three games as they wrestled with Premier League and Europa League commitments, something we know all about from the previous year.
But we know we are up against a team that’s been right up there since late November and they will undoubtedly provide us with a tough game.
Having said that, what form we are in right now. I think when we left Stamford Bridge back in mid-January, we could hardly have believed we would reach this point with only Manchester City subsequently having beaten us. We reached the lockdown on a seven game unbeaten run and since that opening game of the restart at the Etihad, we’ve gone on another run of five unbeaten games with three wins and two draws, two of those wins coming away to take our points total on the road to 23 with just the trip to Norwich to come.
At home, we’ll be hoping to keep our unbeaten run going. Kevin Long, who has stepped in for the injured Ben Mee for the last three games, and will do so for the remainder of the season, spoke to the media this week. “We’re on a great run at the moment and we want it to continue,” he said. “We just want to finish as high up as possible.
Long will line up alongside acting captain James Tarkowski in a squad that is likely to be unchanged from that which featured at Anfield. Chris Wood came into the starting line up for that game with Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson coming on as a substitute.
I would expect Wood to continue and there could be a first league start since the first Saturday in October when he lined up for the 1-0 home win against Everton. Since, he’s been restricted to very little football, making just five substitute appearances in the Premier League including the one at Liverpool.
Erik Pieters has been filling in on the right hand side of the midfield since Josh Brownhill moved inside to replace the injured Jack Cork and it could be that Dyche will go for the player who more comfortably fits that position.
I’m sure that we will see Robbie Brady very soon too and it would be no surprise to see him get a run out from the bench today although none of the other injured players are close to a return.
Our team could be: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood. Subs: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Erik Pieters, Anthony Glennon, Mace Goodridge, Josh Benson, Robbie Brady, Max Thompson, Matěj Vydra.
Burnley are currently 10th in the Premier League; Wolves are four places higher with five points more. With the news yesterday that Manchester City would not be banned from European competition it will leave Wolves, Sheffield United, Spurs, Arsenal and us battling for two Europa League places.
Wolves, who are still in the 2019/20 competition; they are currently in the last 16 and have drawn their away game at Olympiacos 1-1 with the home leg to come.
I recall going to Molineux for our last game of the 2012/13 season and winning 2-1 with Wolves set to drop into League One. They walked it back into the Championship a year later and just missed the play-offs for a shot at the Premier League a year later. For the next two they were back in the bottom half but then in came Nuno. They won the Championship convincingly in 2017/18 and then had a seventh place finish last season with 57 points, just two more than they have currently.
They have some very good players, and none more so than Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traoré. Jiménez is their leading goalscorer this season with 16 in the Premier League and that’s nine more than second highest scorer Diogo Jota. Traoré, signed from Middlesbrough in 2018, has had a superb season.
Nuno has admitted he has issues ahead of the game regarding injuries; the one we know of is Pedro Neto although they can bring in Jota. One player expected to feature is Daniel Podence (pictured). He made his first Premier League start for them in their last game but has played previously at Burnley; he scored the Olympiacos goal against us last season.
Wolves lined up against Everton last Sunday: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Willy Boly, Conor Coady, Romain Saïss, Jonny Otto, Rúben Neves, Leander Dendoncker, Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Raúl Jiménez. Subs: John Ruddy, Maximilian Kilman, Oskar Buur, Rúben Vinagre, Morgan Gibbs-White, Bruno Jordao, Diogo Jota, Adama Traoré, João Moutinho.
LAST TIME WE WERE THERE
We went into this game having lost the four previous games. Having beaten Spurs a few weeks earlier there was real confidence that we’d escaped from the relegation battle but these four losses had seen us drop back into 17th place, just above the drop zone.
What a relief it was to finally break the run and secure a 2-0 win against Wolves which, without moving us up the table, saw us increase the gap ahead of the bottom three from two points to five.
Sean Dyche started his Burnley managerial career with a 2-0 home win against Wolves; this one was won by the same scoreline on what was his 300th game in charge.
There’s no doubt that we had a lot of defending to do to keep in front, but we did it well. We needed a second goal and it finally came with thirteen minutes remaining. Jeff Hendrick put a Wolves player under pressure and his hurried clearance found James Tarkowski in the centre circle. The defender’s header reached Dwight McNeil who made a good run forward, helped by Wood who took a defender away. McNeil still had much to do but he did it, he got into the box, positioned himself and fired a left footed shot past Patricio and into the far bottom corner.
The game was won, and two wins followed in the next two games to ensure Premier League football at Turf Moor again in 2019/20.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 87), Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.
Wolves: Rui Patrício, Romain Saïss, Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Adama Traoré (Hélder Costa 72), Leander Dendoncker (Matt Doherty 59), Rúben Neves, João Moutinho, Jonny Otto, Ivan Cavaleiro Raúl Jiminéz 59), Diogo Jota. Subs not used: John Ruddy, Rúban Vinagre, Max Kilman, Morgan Gibbs-White.Follow UpTheClarets:
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