Next stop – South Wales via Essex
Burnley’s travels in the Premier League take us to South Wales and a date with Swansea City tomorrow but it is a double for Up the Clarets with the weekend getting underway tonight at Colchester for our Premier League Cup tie.
That tie has already been previewed so this concentrates on our game at Swansea, and a game against them at this stage of the season should come as no surprise. It will be our 27th Premier League game of the season. Last season our 27th game was the same fixture at Swansea and in the 2014/15 Premier League season our 27th game was the home fixture against Swansea. We even played them at home in the 27th Championship game in 2008/09 on our way to promotion.
Earlier that season we’d drawn 1-1 at Swansea. Joey Guðjόnsson had given us the lead with a header just before the hour and it was a lead we held until deep into stoppage time when the home side equalised with a goal from Ferrie Boddie.
That was our first trip to Swansea in just over 13 years and our first ever visit to the new Liberty Stadium which had opened in the summer of 2005. It was also the last point we won there with our three subsequent visits all having ended in defeat, 1-0 in both the 2010/11 and 2014/15 seasons and 3-2 last season.
As we go searching for our first ever win there and a first win anywhere since mid-December, we will be able to field one of the players who has played in this fixture for both teams. In the 2010/11 defeat, Jack Cork came on as a substitute for Graham Alexander whilst last season he was in the opposite camp, captaining the Swansea team.
Cork’s next two games for Burnley will be against the two teams he played for after leaving us at the end of his loan in 2011. Our next home game is against Southampton but tomorrow he returns to play at the Liberty Stadium for the first time since he came on as a substitute for Leon Britton in their last home game of the 2016/17 season against Everton.
With Steven Defour’s recent injury, Cork has not only lost his midfield partner but has also become the only ever present in the Burnley team having played in all of the 26 Premier League games to date.
Ahead of his return to Swansea, he spoke of the recent run without a win and was certainly confident that we’ll be getting more wins, and soon. “We have got a good squad of players and characters in the changing room who won’t let their standards slip,” he said. “I know the manager and the staff would never let our standards drop.
“We know we’ve had such a great start to the season, it would be such a waste to throw that away now and we just need to keep pushing towards the end of the season. Forty points has always been the main aim. Anything after that we will re-assess it and see what we have to try and go for from there, but it will always be forty points and go from there.”
We have a fantastic away record with only three defeats so far this season at Manchester City, Leicester and Crystal Palace, but we travel to Swansea without a win on the road since the 2-1 victory at Bournemouth at the end of November. Since, we’ve played six away games, drawing four of them at Brighton, Manchester United, Huddersfield and Newcastle to add to the two most recent defeats.
Injuries haven’t helped and it has been difficult keeping up with there having been so many. Robbie Brady and Steven Defour have now both been ruled out for the season whilst there are six other players still unavailable to Sean Dyche when he selects his team. Jon Walters is still some way away but there has been better news regarding Chris Wood, James Tarkowski, Dean Marney and Tom Heaton; Wood and Tarkowski could both be available again for the Southampton game in two weeks.
The latest casualty is Phil Bardsley who was forced off at half time last week with a hamstring injury. It’s not a bad one, according to Dyche, but he’s unlikely to feature at Swansea. The good news, however, is that Stephen Ward is fit again and has travelled with the team.
I think Dyche could continue with the 4-4-2 system he reverted to last week and we could line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes. Subs: Anders Lindegaard, Stephen Ward, Ashley Westwood, Aiden O’Neill, Scott Arfield, Georges-Kévin NKoudou, Nahki Wells.
Swansea were bottom of the league when they finally pulled the plug on the fist pumping Paul Clement. When Carlos Carvalhal moved in three days before the start of 2018 they had just 13 points from 20 games and they’d been beaten 5-0 at Liverpool just two days earlier.
Since, they’ve had a remarkable run of results. They’ve been beaten just once in six games and have secured a further 11 points to lift themselves out of the bottom three. They’ve not had it easy either. On the road they’ve won at Watford and secured draws at both Newcastle and Leicester, but at home, having lost to Spurs, they’ve beaten Liverpool and Arsenal in their last two home games.
They have also added a new threat with the return of Andre Ayew from West Ham. He moved to West Ham from Swansea in a £20.5 million deal a year and a half ago but has now returned for around £18 million.
This time he’ll be a team mate of his brother Jordan who signed for Swansea in last season’s January transfer window from Aston Villa. The pair could play together for the first time tomorrow.
Swansea, too, have their injury problems. Renato Sanches, on loan from Bayern Munich has been ruled out for the medium to long term, Carvalhal said. Two others, Leroy Fer and Wilfried Bony, are both facing surgery. Long serving full back Angel Rangel could also be facing surgery although Leon Britton could be fit, his injury will be resolved by having an injection.
He did confirm that Andre Ayew and Andy King (pictured), signed on loan from Leicester, have been added to the squad.
They drew their last Premier League game 1-1 at Leicester last week but they go into the game full of confidence after winning through to the 5th round of the FA Cup with a big 8-1 win against Notts County in a 4th round replay this week.
Carvalhal made changes for the cup tie; his team at Leicester was: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton, Mike van der Hoorn, Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson, Martin Olsson, Nathan Dyer, Leroy Fer, Ki Sung-Yueng, Sam Clucas, Jordan Ayew. Subs: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Kyle Bartley, Luciano Narsingh, Tammy Abraham, Tom Carroll, Wayne Routledge, Wilfried Bony.
LAST TIME WE WERE THERE
In our previous game we’d just picked up our second away point of the season in a 1-1 draw at Hull and that had given us confidence ahead of this trip to Swansea although they had won three of their previous five games.
Swansea won it with a highly controversial goal in the second minute of stoppage time, but it wasn’t the only controversial decision of the afternoon and it was a win they did deserve.
There was a blow ahead of kick off. Tom Heaton had been taken ill overnight and was replaced by Paul Robinson. It proved to be his last ever game before retiring and it certainly wasn’t the sort of performance he would have wanted to go out on.
We were still mightily relieved to reach half time at 1-1 having been second best throughout the half but things got even better for us in the second half when Gray scored his and our second to give us the lead, only the second time we’d been in front all season away from home; we’d previously led 1-0 at Spurs but went on to lose the game 2-1.
Swansea were level with a Martin Olsson goal eight minutes later which certainly asked questions of Robinson but he had one more poor moment when Llorente scored his second in stoppage time to win it for the Swans. This was another poor decision from Taylor. Llorente clearly fouled Ben Mee, sending him flying, and with Robinson poor again his goal was allowed to stand.
Swansea had won; the appalling Clement did his fist pumping lap of honour but we could have no complaints over the result. Even the shocking decisions evened themselves out.
The teams were;
Swansea: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton (Angel Rangel 89), Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson, Martin Olsson, Jack Cork, Tom Carroll (Jordi Amat 90+5), Leroy Fer, Luciano Narsingh (Jordan Ayew 73), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fernando Llorente. Subs not used: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Leon Britton, Wayne Routledge, Borja.
Burnley: Paul Robinson, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Jeff Hendrick, Joey Barton (Ashley Westwood 80), Robbie Brady (Scott Arfield 66), Sam Vokes (James Tarkowski 80), Andre Gray. Subs not used: Nick Pope, Jon Flanagan, Tendayi Darikwa, Dan Agyei.Follow UpTheClarets:
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