Share this page :
FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail

Just four weeks ago I made my way home from Bournemouth with the Clarets in the top half of the table with 24 points from 18 games and a nine point advantage over Aston Villa who sat in 18th place in the table.

There seemed little to be too concerned about, even though six of the previous ten games had ended in defeat. The win at Bournemouth, which followed the victory against Newcastle, had ensured a half way points total better than any previous Premier League season other than 2017/18 when we were well on our way to getting into Europe.

We knew we had some tough games coming up and probably it was no surprise that we were beaten by Manchester United and Chelsea, but the losses against Everton, when we were so close to a draw, and, in particular, against Aston Villa, when we turned in a horrible first half performance at home, have seriously knocked us back.

It’s brought with it so much negativity to the point where it has got ridiculous and if we could only have got a win against Villa then things would be looking ok for us right now. But we lost it and there is no doubt the sooner we get out of this run, the better, although things don’t get much easier in the immediate future with some tough games.

After tomorrow, we travel to Manchester United, currently fifth in the table, and then, after the FA Cup, we welcome Arsenal to Turf Moor and we know what usually happens then. Prior to that, it is Leicester tomorrow and this game looks a much tougher assignment than it probably did when we surveyed the fixtures last June.

They are having an exceptional season but we showed down there we are more than capable of matching them and we all know we’d have brought a point home from the King Power but for an astonishing VAR decision from Andy Madley that ruled out a second Chris Wood goal.

Embed from Getty Images
That game is long in the past now and what we need is to start picking up points again. Goalkeeper Nick Pope said this week: “We’ve had a few defeats in a row and it’s a case of getting back on the training field and working hard to put that right. Working hard is the biggest thing.

“Everything is rosy when you are winning, but when you lose a few, that’s when you have to dig deep within and find your character. We’ve got plenty of that in abundance and hopefully the next win is just around the corner.”

He added: “We know we are not going to blow teams away often in this league. It’s about nicking results along the way, on a consistent basis, but the big things for us this weekend are starting the game well and getting the performance levels back.”

Pope is very much back as first choice now after not making a Premier League appearance last season having suffered a shoulder injury at Aberdeen but he’s stepped ahead of Joe Hart and with Tom Heaton leaving for Aston Villa he has become first choice and played every league game to date.

The only other players to start every game are central defenders James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, along with Dwight McNeil, and there is no reason to expect any of those four not to be in tomorrow’s line up.

We do, at least, have more players to choose from this week. Ashley Barnes, as we expected, will be out for the immediate future having had hernia surgery and although back on the grass we will still be without Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson who is on his way back from the hamstring injury suffered in the Peterborough cup tie.

Phil Bardsley was on the bench last week as he tried to shake off illness. He’s fit as are both Robbie Brady and Jay Rodriguez who were both similarly suffering. Brady, I expect, will be back on the bench but Bardsley and Rodriguez will, I think, return with Matt Lowton and Aaron Lennon missing out.

I think the team could be: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.

Leicester were in 11th place in the table in February last year when they dispensed with the services of Claude Puel and replaced him with Brendan Rodgers. By the end of the season they’d climbed two places and finished on 52 points.

Under the new manager they had picked up 17 points from 10 games and they’ve added to that this season with 45 points from 22 games which sees them currently in third place with a win against us tomorrow taking them level with Manchester City.

That’s a total of 32 Premier League games he’s been in charge and he’s come to be reliant on Jamie Vardy who has scored an incredible 26 goals in those games which includes their equaliser against us at the King Power earlier in the season.

Embed from Getty Images
They have become a formidable side with terrific pace and they currently are one point ahead of where they were when they won the title in 2015/16 and then went on that season to win it by ten points. Four year ago they were second, behind Arsenal on goal difference. This season, of course, they are very unlikely title challenges because of the form of Liverpool who have dropped only two points, but there return now will surely ensure a return to the Champions League next season; they currently lead fifth and sixth placed Manchester United and Wolves by eleven points.

Vardy will be a threat but they have some real quality in the side in players such as Youri Tielemans (pictured) and James Maddison although they will be without a couple of players tomorrow, most notably Wilfred Ndidi. He had what Brendan Rodgers described as a slight operation last week, has made good progress and is back in training but will not be involved. Wes Morgan, who scored the winner in this fixture last season, is also a doubt.

They suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat against Southampton last week when the lined up: Kasper Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Ҫaglar Söyüncü, Jonny Evans, Ben Chilwell, Hamza Choudhury, Ayoze Pérez, Dennis Praet, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Jamie Vardy. Subs: Danny Ward, Marc Albrighton, Demarai Gray, Kelechi Iheanacho, James Justin, Filip Benkovic, Youri Tielemans.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

After a superb post-Christmas run that saw us win five and draw three of eight Premier League games, we hit another difficult patch and when Leicester arrived at Burnley we’d lost our three previous games at Newcastle and Liverpool with a home defeat against Crystal Palace between them.

In appalling weather conditions, the game started badly for Leicester when Harry Maguire was sent off in only the fourth minute when he fouled Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson who was through on goal. Amazingly, referee Michael Oliver, who didn’t have the best of days, then held up the game while Leicester got Wes Morgan warmed up and ready to come on.

We didn’t take advantage of having one more on the pitch and Leicester looked the more likely but they got a helping hand from James Tarkowski when they went in front. He needlessly fouled James Maddison on the edge of the box and the midfielder took the free kick himself which went over the wall and in past Tom Heaton.

They were almost immediately close to a second but we were level within five minutes and what a good goal it was. It involved Chris Wood, Jack Cork, Charlie Taylor and Dwight McNeil in a good passing move which ended with McNeil finishing smartly from Taylor’s pass.

Embed from Getty Images
We were better in the second half, albeit against a Leicester side who showed no ambition. We had three very good shouts for penalties. Two for handball against Jonny Evans and Morgan which incredibly weren’t given and then, amazingly, Oliver refused us again when Wilfred Ndidi brought down Taylor.

But, against a side showing no ambition, we managed to lose it in the 90th minute. We conceded a corner, got that out but then gave the ball away again and when it came back in, Morgan got above Tarkowski to head the winner for Leicester.

“That’s it, we’re down now,” one Burnley fan said to me as we left. We had thirty points from 31 games. The next three were won and we followed that up with a draw at Chelsea to take our points total to forty.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Robbie Brady 79), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Matěj Vydra 90+1), Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood (Peter Crouch 70). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Ben Gibson, Jeff Hendrick.

Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, Demarai Gray (Wes Morgan 6), James Maddison (Christian Fuchs 64), Harvey Barnes (Napmalys Mendy 77), Jamie Vardy. Subs not used: Danny Ward, Rachid Ghezzal, Kelechi Iheanacho, Shinji Okazaki.

Share this page :
FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail


Follow UpTheClarets:
FacebooktwitterFacebooktwitter