I’m delighted for the fans
Burnley face Middlesbrough at home in this year’s Boxing Day game and that sees a Turf Moor return for Boro boss Aitor Karanka who has now been in charge at the Riverside for just over three years having replaced Tony Mowbray.
He’s taken Middlesbrough into the Premier League at the second time of asking having faltered in the play-offs in his first full season in charge, and he brings his side to Turf Moor after a resounding 3-0 win against Swansea last week.
“We’ve had a good week,” he said ahead of Christmas. “It’s always a good week when you win a game, but you have to forget as well because the next game is always the most important one. We’ve had a few extra days to prepare and we’ve been working hard. The players will train Christmas morning because we have a game to prepare for, but they will get to spent time with their families before we travel.
“I know Burnley, but we have a few players who weren’t here last season, and they need to know how they play. We expect a tough game. They have picked up 16 points at home. It’s always a tough game there. They are always a difficult opponent and they are direct rivals. Their target is to survive, like us.
“Every team has to take advantage of their good things. Last season they won the Championship and they are doing well at home again. We’ve been good away.”
They got points at both Arsenal and Manchester City, but Karanka warned: “This is completely different to those games, but the points are the same. The important thing is to keep playing in our style.”
Sean Dyche will be pleased to be back at the Turf after two away games in London both ended in defeat. He said: “We have made what we do at Turf Moor very hard for teams to come, which is an important factor. We know we have to safeguard that and the only way you can do that is by continuing to perform. That will be the key.
“The team must continue to perform at home and, of course, mature and grow away from home to get more points on the table.”
He’ll be looking for his team to get some goals with us having already scored as many home goals in the Premier League as we did in the entire 2014/15 season, a total of 14. “At home we have scored really well,” he added. “We have scored as many goals at home, currently, as we did in the full Premier League season last time.
“I’m delighted with that, not just because of the players. I’m delighted for the fans as well because they have backed us, certainly in my time here and they continue to do so. I have always said that is an important factor and it still is.
“We have been scoring goals and creating good chances. We want that to continue at home, of course. We have to work for that to continue and we have to safeguard it with good performances and the backing of the fans.”
The two big home games to end the year have been billed as very important given that Middlesbrough are just above us in the table and Sunderland, who are at Burnley on the last day of 2016, are currently below us.
However, Dyche said: “The journey can’t be defined by who you are playing. It’s the end of the journey, when the results kick in and what you’ve had during the journey. We tend not to get too deep in our thinking about who we are playing against. It’s more important how the team performs and if we do that well enough, often enough you will get the points.
“The Premier League is probably different from the Championship, for the obvious reason in the Championship we were up there challenging and getting the job done, as we have done two of the last three years, and then this season is obviously a different goal. But it’s still looking at the end and how you get there, so it’s helpful to win any game and take points from any game, that’s the key to it.”Follow UpTheClarets:
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