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On the Saturday before Christmas, we won 2-0 at Fulham and three days later it was Bournemouth’s turn to beat Fulham with a 3-0 home victory against them. Neither team has won since and in the games since Boxing Day, we are the two worst teams in the Premier League in terms of points won with Bournemouth on three points, one more than us, and we both sit behind Sheffield United courtesy of their home draw against West Ham before winning at Luton.

While Bournemouth sit relatively safe in thirteenth place, it’s looking all but done for us now. With Everton having been given four points back this week, we are now eleven points behind Nottingham Forest who sit in seventeenth place having lost to a late goal against Liverpool this afternoon. It seems only further points deductions for Everton and potentially Forest could give us a chance but even then it would be unlikely that we would catch them given our form this season which now equates to one point for each two games. If we continued with that points ratio, we wouldn’t even catch Luton’s current points total.

One thing Burnley fans will be demanding. Since Dara O’Shea scored our goal at Liverpool, we’ve conceded ten goals without reply and in the last two awful performances against Arsenal and Crystal Palace we haven’t mustered a single shot on target.

Speaking yesterday, manager Vincent Kompany said: “I know you have to be in it with passion and emotions and the team are. It really hurts us when we lose any game and it’s a real punch in the guts. But we build ourselves up to go again every week and we have the consistency to do that. The twenty-four hours after is never good but then it’s back to work and getting back to work and getting ready for this game which is what we have done.”

Having stood in front of far from happy Burnley supporters last week, he added, hoping for a win against Bournemouth: “I would love to go over to the fans this Sunday and fist pump again. I actually visualise that in my head and can picture it and I hope that’s this weekend.” Given our position, the whole idea of fist pumping is somewhat bizarre.

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Defender Hannes Delcroix remains positive. Having spoken about working again with the manager as he’d done at Anderlecht, he focused on Sunday’s game. He said: “I think like all the other games at the moment, every game is not easy, so we just need to be focused during the whole game. We know how important the games are for us at the moment. I have a great feeling personally; I think the team, we can do something.

“I think since the last time we played Bournemouth we have made steps as a team, as a collective. We are able to get results and we know we have to start. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we know what we need to do. At training we will have a plan as well so I hope we will have some results.”

Who is in or out for this game. That’s difficult to determine but we know that we will be without long term injury victims Jordan Beyer (progressing from an unknown injury that has kept him out since the end of December), Nathan Redmond (hamstring), Aaron Ramsey (ACL), Luca Koleosho (knee) and Lyle Foster (hernia). Josh Brownhill will also be missing this week. He will be serving his one match ban having been sent off at Crystal Palace.

The team last week at Palace was: James Trafford, Lorenz Assignon, Dara O’Shea, Maxime Estève, Charlie Taylor, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Sander Berge, Josh Brownhill, Wilson Odobert, Zeki Amdouni, David Datro Fofana. Subs: Arijanet Muric, Vitinho, Hjalmar Ekdal, Hannes Delcroix, Josh Cullen, Jack Cork, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Manuel Benson, Jay Rodriguez.

Bournemouth sprung a surprise last summer when they sacked manager Gary O’Neill after less than a year in charge. O’Neill, who is doing a terrific job at Wolves, had comfortably kept them up but once safe they lost their final four games and that apparently contributed to him losing his job.

Replaced by Rayo Vallecano boss Andoni Iraola, who had been a target for Leeds in the previous season, life at Bournemouth didn’t start well for him. When we arrived at Dean Court on the last Saturday in October, they were without a win and only Sheffield United were above them in the table. The owner had turned up from America with everything point to a parting of the ways.

A goal behind to a Charlie Taylor goal, the lead didn’t last too long before Antoine Semenyo equalised for Bournemouth who then went on to win the game 2-1 with Philip Billing scoring their winner.

Iraola wasn’t sacked. They lost their next game 6-1 at Manchester City but then won six and drew one of the next seven, taking them up to Boxing Day. No team was able to match their points total during that run of games.

But as the switch was turned on in the game against us back in October, so it’s been turned off again since the Fulham victory with them winning just three points from the last seven games, those points coming in draws against Nottingham Forest at home and on the road against both West Ham and Newcastle.

For tomorrow’s game they’ve been boosted with the return to fitness of Tyler Adams although he is unlikely to feature at Burnley. A doubt also remains over the availability of key striker Dominic Solanke, Manager Iraola explained that he’s been feeling the injury since New Year’s Eve and the player himself will make the decision as to whether he is able to manage the pain and play. “It’s something that bothers him,” Iraola said, adding: “He’s been managing it quite well but this week he’s felt more pain. If he’s comfortable he may want to train but we’ll have to see how it goes.”

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Solanke (pictured above) is very much a key player for them having scored fourteen of their thirty-three Premier League goals this season. Next highest is Semenyo who scored the opener against us in the game there and is one of four he’s scored.

Bournemouth have been beaten 1-0 at home twice this week. They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Leicester on Tuesday and last Saturday, as we began our journey back from Crystal Palace, they were beaten by Manchester City.

Their team in that last league game against City was: Neto, Adam Smith, Illia Zabarnyi, Marcos Senesi, Milos Kerkez, Ryan Christie, Lewis Cook, Antoine Semenyo, Justin Kluivert, Marcus Tavernier, Dominic Solanke. Subs: Andrei Radu, Mark Travers, Chris Mepham, Romain Faivre, Dango Ouattara, Alex Scott, Luis Sinisterra, Enes Ünal, Maxwell Kinsey-Wellings.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

With both of us having spent time in the Championship over the past three seasons, it’s just over four years since Bournemouth last played a league game at Turf Moor and it proved to be an eventful afternoon with VAR official Chris Kavanagh taking centre stage.

We won the game 3-0, a result that elevated us to eighth in the table and brought us a double over Bournemouth for the second successive season.

The game was preceded with a minute’s applause for Brian Pilkington, one of our title winning players. Pilky more often than not wore the number 11 shirt at Burnley and he would undoubtedly have been delighted to see Dwight McNeil’s performance in this game wearing the same number.

The game was goalless at half time although Bournemouth did have a goal ruled out by Kavanagh who instructed match official Mike Dean to rule it out for a handball. The decision was correct under the IFAB handball ruling.

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With both Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood ruled out, Matěj Vydra played having come on as a substitute at Southampton in the previous game to score the winner. The Turf Moor crowd were willing him to score and having spurned some opportunities he finally gave us the lead. He did so well to hold his run then, inside the box, he stepped inside Simon Francis before hitting his shot over the onrushing Aaron Ramsdale.

That was eight minutes into the half and eight minutes later we had a shout for a penalty when Adam Smith looked as if he might have handled McNeil’s cross. It wasn’t given and within seconds Bournemouth were level through Harry Wilson or so they thought. Kavanagh stepped in again to award us a penalty which ruled out their goal. Jay Rodriguez scored from the spot and rather than 1-1 it was 2-0.

Three minutes from the end, McNeil completed the scoring with the goal his performance so richly deserved and that just left time for Sean Dyche to give latest signing Josh Brownhill his debut.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork (Josh Brownhill 90+1), Dwight McNeil (Robbie Brady 90+1), Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra (Aaron Lennon 82). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson.

Bournemouth: Aaron Ramsdale, Jack Stacey, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Adam Smith, Dan Gosling (Ryan Fraser 70), Andrew Surman, Philip Billing, Harry Wilson (Dominic Solanke 74), Callum Wilson, Josh King (Junior Stanislas 70). Subs not used: Artur Boruc, Jack Simpson, Diego Rico, Lewis Cook.

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