Leeds take us into final week
By next weekend the Premier League season will be over but before then we have three games to play, kicking off this afternoon with a home game against Leeds United.
All the concerns and worries over the season are over. In truth they’ve been over for a while but the 2-0 win against Fulham at Craven Cottage ensured we were mathematically safe with Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United all relegated with three games to go. With two of the promoted clubs gone at the first time of asking and two of last season’s relegated teams on their way back, next season’s Premier League will have a familiar look to it.
Most importantly, we are there and for a sixth successive season which really is something that just a few years ago we’d have thought was an impossible dream. But now we’ve still three games to play starting with this lunchtime’s home fixture against Leeds.
Chris Wood started this season having scored in the final three games of 2019/20; a goal at Leicester in our opening fixture took that run to four games. Today he will be looking to equal that against his former club having scored in each of the last three games at Wolves, where he got a hat trick, at home against West Ham and then at Fulham. It’s taken his goal return this season to 12 to become one of only six players to have reached double figures in each of the last four Premier League seasons along with Harry Kane, Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min and Jamie Vardy.
“I’ve been here just under four seasons now and fifty goals in that time is pretty decent, I think. I hope there’s a lot more to come. Personally I’m very happy with the part I’ve played but I know that if it wasn’t me up there starting with Vyds then Jay Rod or Barnesy would be delivering the same work ethic and goal ratio.”
Today, Wood is likely to line up against the club from whom we bought him in August 2017 for whom he netted 41 Championship goals in two seasons. He was highly rated by the Leeds fans and on a visit last season for the under-23 game I spoke to some of their fans who said they’d have been playing Premier League football a lot sooner had they been able to keep him.
There is no suggestion he’s not going to play today but we are going to be without two and potentially three of the match day squad from last Monday. Phil Bardsley and Dale Stephens were on the bench at Fulham but Bardsley won’t be available for the remainder of the season having had hernia surgery while Stephens is expected to be missing with an ankle injury that could also require surgery.
To add to that, Nick Pope is still having problems with the shoulder injury that kept him out of a couple of recent games and I would expect Bailey Peacock-Farrell to come in and join Wood and Charlie Taylor, all signed from Leeds in the starting line up.
I think our team will be: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Matěj Vydra. Subs from: Will Norris, Jimmy Dunne, Richard Nartey, Erik Pieters, Anthony Glennon, Josh Benson, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jay Rodriguez, Ashley Barnes, Lewis Richardson, Joel Mumbongo.
Leeds came up from the Championship last season as champions alongside West Brom, the play-off winners, and Fulham who won the play-offs. In the last week both West Brom and Fulham have been relegated but I think it is more than fair to say that Leeds have done somewhat better.
Ahead of today’s game they are in tenth place in the Premier League with 50 points. In all likelihood they will end the season there or one place higher or lower with Arsenal just two points ahead and Aston Villa with one point less.
They have certainly scored goals this season. They have 53 to date but they’ve also conceded the same number although since going down 4-2 at Arsenal in mid-February they have been much improved defensively.
Manager Marcelo Bielsa will have a bigger squad to select from today. HIs captain Liam Cooper is available having missed the last four games with suspension and then an injury and all of Kalvin Phillips, a Burnley target two years ago, Raphina and Rodrigo, who came on as a sub last week, are ready to be recalled. Bielsa admitted that with so many options his decisions become more difficult.
They arrive at Burnley today as the only Premier League club without an away draw although they have drawn home games against Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Their team last week against Spurs was: Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Robin Koch, Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk, Ezgjan Alioski, Stuart Dallas, Jack Harrison, Mateusz Klich, Patrick Bamford, Tyler Roberts. Subs: Kiko Casilla, Leif Davis, Gaetano Berardi, Pablo Hernandez, Kalvin Phillips, Jamie Shackleton, Ian Povedo, Raphina, Rodrigo.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
It’s just over five years since Leeds last played a league game at Burnley and we went into that game having drawn the previous three. We were still top of the league but Middlesbrough were just a point behind us and with a game in hand.
If ever a win was needed and we got it courtesy of a first minute goal from Scott Arfield. Leeds kicked off, went forward and we won a goal kick. Tom Heaton’s kick was headed on by Sam Vokes to Andre Gray who played in Arfield on the left hand side. The Scot made no mistake, hitting his shot into the far bottom corner.
But it was Burnley who had the last chance when Matty Taylor brilliantly set up Ashley Barnes only for our striker to do what theirs had done and miss the target when it looked easier to score.
A win it was although we couldn’t shake off Middlesbrough who remained just a point behind us having beaten Preston 1-0 with an Albert Adomah goal.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones (Dean Marney 76), Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes (Ashley Barnes 72), Andre Gray (Matt Taylor 90). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Lloyd Dyer.
Leeds: Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Sol Bamba, Liam Cooper, Charlie Taylor, Toumani Diagouraga (Tom Adeyemi 81), Luke Murphy, Lewis Cook, Stuart Dallas (Alex Mowatt 87), Mustapha Carayol (Mirco Antenucci 66), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Lewis Coyle, Giuseppe Bellusci, Kalvin Phillips.Share this page :