Swans here to kick off the season
After seven long years in the Fourth Division, Burnley kicked off the 1992/93 season in the new Division Two against Swansea City. We won the game 1-0 with a Steve Penney goal on his debut.
Tomorrow, Swansea again provide the opposition on opening day but whereas we were both in the third tier when the Premier League got underway in 1992, this time we meet in the Premier League itself with Swansea embarking on a sixth successive season after winning promotion in 2011.
For Burnley, it’s a third shot at the Premier League. Having gone up in the play-offs in 2009, and then as runners-up in 2014, we were promptly relegated within a year. This time, going up as Football League Champions, we will be hoping for a finish of 17th or higher to give us another season at least among the big boys of English football.
It’s fourteen weeks tomorrow since the title was clinched at Charlton as the Burnley fans sang ’23 23 undefeated’ to a team doing it the Sean Dyche way, but it has been a frustrating fourteen weeks with precious little activity in the transfer market although that does seem set to change within the next few days following tonight’s strong speculation that Belgian Steven Defour is on his way from RSC Anderlecht. It’s certainly been met with some enthusiasm from those on the message board who had all but given up on the idea of us signing a midfield player.
So far, the only confirmed transfers in have been Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Nick Pope from Charlton and, a week ago, the loan capture of Jon Flanagan from Liverpool. But there is confidence in the camp, of that there is no doubt, and midfielder David Jones believes lessons have been learned from the 2014/15 season.
Speaking ahead of the game he said: “We’ve done a lot of hard work in pre-season but the real work starts on Saturday against Swansea City. I think the experience is invaluable and last time in the Premier League we didn’t have so much of that, but this time I feel we’re better equipped as players and mentally. You feel it in and around the club that there is less emotion attached to it and it’s more about being business like and doing the job to have a successful season.”
He added: “Hopefully we can hit the ground running and maybe not take as long as last time to believe in ourselves and make an impact.”
Jones has been with us for three years and has been a virtual ever present, although he ended last season on the bench with Dean Marney coming in to partner the now departed Joey Barton in the midfield. With Barton now gone, it would be a surprise if the Marney and Jones partnership isn’t re-established tomorrow and if so it will be the first time the pair have started together since the West Brom home game in February 2015.
Jones for Barton could be the only change to the team from the one that lined up for the kick off at Charlton back in May. Sean Dyche has already confirmed that Flanagan won’t play and Pope has been brought in as a back up goalkeeper. That leaves only Gudmundsson as a potential starter. He could come in for either George Boyd or Scott Arfield but might just find himself on the bench.
The good news is that Stephen Ward, who has missed the friendlies against Rangers and Real Sociedad with a hamstring injury, is fit and Ashley Barnes, who came off at Bradford three weeks ago, is making great progress from a similar injury and is ahead of expected.
In other good news, brilliant news in fact, Michael Keane should be in the back four. With all the summer speculation I did wonder whether he’d still be here, but chairman Mike Garlick reiterated this week what Dyche had already said, that he wouldn’t be sold.
We could line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Scott Arfield, Dean Marney, David Jones, George Boyd, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs from: Paul Robinson, Nick Pope, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Danny Lafferty, Fredrik Ulvestad, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Rouwen Hennings.
When Swansea could only draw at home against West Ham on the last Saturday before Christmas 2015, they dropped to 15th in the Premier League. A Boxing Day win against West Brom moved them up and they never fell as low as that for the remainder of the season.
Many thought they’d come straight back down when they won that promotion in 2011, but 12th is the lowest they’ve finished and in the previous season they’d claimed 8th place.
This summer they’ve made a number of signings. Leroy Fer has made his move a permanent one after ending last season there on loan from QPR. Mike van der Hoorn has arrived from Ajax with Fernando Llorente signing from Sevilla. This week they’ve broken their transfer record with the capture of striker Borja Baston from Atletico Madrid for £15.5 million, a record fee for Swansea.
Baston, Swansea initially reported, could play at Burnley but manager Francesco Guidolin has since said he won’t be in the side. Llorente is likely to be and the Spanish international who has won Serie A titles with Juventus will almost certainly play.
With Ward and Sam Vokes in the Burnley side, Dyche has no worries about his players returning from the Euros but Swansea boss Guidolin has already confirmed that Neil Taylor (Wales) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland) won’t start. He has said they still need time to be league ready. South Korean midfielder Sung-Yeung Ki has also been left out.
Two former Burnley loan players, Nathan Dyer, who was loaned out to Leicester last season but has recently signed a new four year deal, and Jack Cork are expected to play.
The local press in South Wales are suggesting a starting line up of: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton, Federico Fernandez, Jordi Amat, Stephen Kingsley, Jack Cork, Leroy Fer, Leon Britton, Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer, Fernando Llorente.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
Swansea’s last visit to Turf Moor came in February 2015, one week after we’d brought a point home from Chelsea. Unfortunately, we couldn’t win any points from this game which proved to be a drab affair and was decided by one goal, a scrappy one that was confirmed as a Tom Heaton own goal.
He superbly tipped a Jack Cork effort onto the bar but Cork got to the rebound only to see his next effort deflect off Kieran Trippier’s left thigh. Heaton, still on the ground, managed to get a hand on the ball but could only push it into the net.
The first half had been a turgid affair with a George Boyd effort about the only bright moment. We did try to push things on in the second half but there seemed little likelihood of a goal and that could certainly apply to Swansea who had hardly threatened at all.
Once behind, just past the hour, we didn’t really ever look as though we could get a point out of it.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Scott Arfield, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Sam Vokes 75), Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes (Lukas Jutkiewicz 90). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Duff, Stephen Ward, Ross Wallace.
Swansea: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton, Federico Fernandez, Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Jack Cork, Tom Carroll (Jefferson Montero 60), Sung-Yeung Ki, Jonjo Shelvey, Wayne Routledge (Jordi Amat 90), Bafe Gomis (Nelson Oliveira 90+2). Subs not used: Gerhard Tremmel, Angel Rangel, Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes.Follow UpTheClarets:
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