We will fight forever more because of Boxing Day
That song was born following a Boxing Day game against Newcastle United, but the title is certainly apt when we see that Everton are our visitors tomorrow.
A hugely disappointing first half of last season became almost a disastrous first half with game number 19, the half way stage, when Everton came to the Turf and won 5-1. It left us in a perilous position towards the bottom of the Premier League with 12 points.
As supporters filed out at the end of the game, those of us who were actually still there, little did we know that things were going to change for the better. We were one better off than Fulham; two better off than Huddersfield and while only three points behind a couple of other clubs there wasn’t too much confidence around that we would be able to do enough to stay up.
It proved to be a watershed moment. Four days later we beat West Ham 2-0 with a team that saw five changes. Matt Lowton was suspended and, alongside him, out went Joe Hart, Ben Gibson, Jeff Hendrick and Sam Vokes. In came Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Dwight McNeil and Chris Wood. Of those left out, other than the suspended Lowton, only Hendrick has since started a Premier League game.
After West Ham, we beat the only two clubs below us and suddenly we were 15th and even a little four game blip didn’t cost us. By the end of the season we were well clear. The second half of the season was outstanding with only seven teams picking up more points.
A decent start to this season that has seen only Arsenal and Liverpool beat us, means we go into the game tomorrow in 11th place in the table but knowing that you can drop a good few places at this stage of the season should you lose a game. The reverse of that is we are only three points behind Arsenal who currently sit in fourth place.
One player not involved in either the Everton game or the following fixture against West Ham was goalkeeper Nick Pope. This season has seen him establish himself as number one after missing the last Premier League season because of a shoulder injury sustained at Aberdeen.
Watching at the time from the stands, he said this week about it: “It was possibly the best thing that could have happened to us. Looking back, it was a turning point. It was something at the time that was a real low and bottom out moment. It was a really bad day and bad defeat but moving forward it allowed us to take new steps and to build again.”
He added: “A big part of the debrief at the end of last season was to try not to get ourselves where we were and how we started the season. A big thing was not to start again, but to carry on how we finished and take that into the start of this season.”
Once Pope reached fitness last season, Tom Heaton was very much first choice but he’s holding the position now and will line up again tomorrow for what will be his 42nd Premier League appearance for us which started with that substitute appearance against Crystal Palace over two years ago.
Sean Dyche will have to make one change to the team that drew last week at Aston Villa. So far this season we’ve only seen two changes to the starting line up and both in the same position. Aaron Lennon came in for the injured Guðmundsson for the Liverpool game with Hendrick replacing Guðmundsson for the last home game against Norwich. This time there will have to be a change, breaking up the midfield partnership of Ashley Westwood and Jack Cork with Cork having a minor shoulder fracture. It’s not expected to keep him out beyond tomorrow but his involvement against Everton is unlikely.
It’s one position where, right now, we don’t have too much in terms of experienced options with Danny Drinkwater not ready to play. The obvious move would be to switch Hendrick inside leaving a place for Guðmundsson or Lennon on the right, although Dyche could opt to use Jay Rodriguez as he did for the second half at Aston Villa.
I’m guessing, and it is no more than a guess, that he might prefer to stick to 4-4-2 and if he does, the team is likely to be :Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra.
Everton are currently four places behind us in the league with two points less which means an away win would take them above us. They come into the game on the back of three straight defeats but there has been something of a contrast in the last two, both played at Goodison Park. Having looked poor at Bournemouth, where they lost 3-1, they were disappointing on their return home where they were beaten 2-0 by Sheffield United, but last week’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City saw a much improved Everton performance which, against most teams, would have given them a positive result.
Their goal at Bournemouth, scored by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, is their only goal so far on the road. In their other two away games they have drawn 0-0 at Crystal Palace and been beaten 2-0 by Aston Villa. They’ve scored just six goals in total this season with Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison both having scored twice.
Everton are still without Jean-Philippe Gbamin but they can welcome back André Gomes following a rib injury while Theo Walcott, who was forced off last week because of a head injury, has been passed fit.
Their team against Manchester City last week, which included former Claret Michael Keane (pictured) was: Jordan Pickford, Séamus Coleman, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Morgan Schneiderlin, Fabian Delph, Theo Walcott, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Jonas Lössl, Mason Holgate, Cenk Tosun, Alex Iwobi, Djibril Sidibé, Tom Davies, Moise Kean.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
Here we go, and I promise the last time this game is referred to on Up the Clarets. In the previous two games at Spurs and Arsenal, Sean Dyche had opted for a back five with Kevin Long, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee as the central three. For this game, Long was left out with Ben Gibson getting his first, and to date only, league appearance for us to the left of the other two defenders.
Something very definitely didn’t work. Yerry Mina gave Everton a second minute lead. That lead was doubled eleven minutes later through Lucas Digne and on 22 minutes it was 3-0 when Gylfi Sigurdsson converted a penalty.
All in all it was a dire Boxing Day for us, and let’s all remember that tomorrow and hope we can turn it all round with a win against them.
The teams were;
Burnley: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Ben Gibson (Dwight McNeil 63), Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jeff Hendrick (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 63), Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes (Chris Wood 73). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Matěj Vydra.
Everton: Jordan Pickford, Kurt Zouma, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Seamus Coleman, Gylfi Sigurdsson, André Gomes (idrissa Gueye 75), Lucas Digne, Theo Walcott, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Richarlison 67), Bernard (Tom Davies 80). Subs not used: Maarten Stekelenburg, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Oumar Niasse.Share this page :