Welcome home for the Clarets
Burnley face Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow in what will be our first home game in the Premier League since the 1-1 draw against Chelsea some seven weeks ago. For supporters who don’t travel to away games it’s almost been like a close season so long has it been since that last home game.
It’s good to be back home even though the opposition couldn’t be much tougher, but what a fantastic ten days or so we’ve had leading up to this game. Firstly Michael Keane made his England debut, against the Germans no less, and impressed while this week saw our 2015/16 accounts published. Then came the news that the team have moved into the new building at Gawthorpe, another huge step forward for our club.
I haven’t written about the accounts simply because. although a mathematician, I’m not an accountant and it was much easier to let those who are better equipped to give some explanations on the message board. What I gleaned from them, as have most people, is that we support what can only be described as a very well run club.
It’s fantastic to hear manager Sean Dyche say: “There is a really healthy future for the club, I think, both on and off the pitch and we’re in fantastic shape. It’s easy sometimes to look and judge everything on the next three points and then the next three, and I am as guilty as anyone, but now and again you have to just take a step back and say hang on, this is quite something.”
But now it is back to playing football at home and new England international Keane, who is guaranteed a superb reception from the supporters tomorrow, spoke about our aim of staying in the league.
“That’s been the aim all season,” he said. “We want to get that secured as soon as possible and kick on. The first thing in our head is survival but we think that we’ve got enough to do more than that. We want to finish as high up as possible and pick up a win soon to see where it takes us.”
At yesterday’s press conference, one journalist suggested: “The big thing that has changed over the last couple of weeks is you’ve now got a £100 million centre back.” Dyche jokingly responded: “Well, whatever figure you wish to put on him and we’ve got Keano as well.”
That must be Ben Mee, of course, and he and Keane are two of just five outfield players in the entire Premier League who have played every minute of every game so far. With no injuries reported, it will be the same again tomorrow at the back.
One real positive with the break has been getting Steven Defour some more training under his belt. He was on the bench at Sunderland but Dyche admitted: “Steven is in much better shape and his fitness has improved again. We managed to get some football into him before the break and he’s done plenty of training since, so he is looking a lot sharper and fitter.”
I suspect we might see him at some point tomorrow but that won’t be the case for Johann Berg Gudmundsson. On him, the manager said: “Johann won’t make it, but he has had a bit of a breakthrough in the past week, so he is back on the grass and catching up with fitness work before hopefully, next week, starting to get some football back with the main group.
“It’s fair though to say he’s going to need a game now, after being out for longer than we hoped, but he’s feeling generally a lot better now.”
There’s no doubt both players have been missed, but at least we have one of them back and available while the other is moving towards a return.
What will the team be? I suspect we might just start with the team that started in the last game at Sunderland which was: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Jeff Hendrick, Joey Barton, Scott Arfield, Ashley Barnes, Andre Gray. Subs from: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Ashley Westwood, Steven Defour, Robbie Brady, Sam Vokes.
Tottenham are currently second in the Premier League but given that Chelsea currently have a ten point lead it looks unlikely that they will finish any higher. But, they are very likely to qualify for the Champions League again as they currently have a seven point lead over Manchester United who are in fifth place.
They ended last season in third place and although they were soon knocked out of the Champions League, they are having another extremely good season in the league, particularly at White Hart Lane where it is still expected they will be playing this season for the last time.
They drew their second home game of the season 1-1 against Liverpool and it was the same score when Leicester visited in October. Apart from those two games, they’ve done nothing but win at home and are currently on a run of ten successive home wins.
On home form they are the top of the league, five points clear of Chelsea who are second best, but away from home they haven’t quite found wins as easy to come by although they still have the sixth best away points tally with the five other top six clubs the only ones above them.
Their problem away has been a case of too many draws. They’ve won only four times, those against Stoke, Middlesbrough, Southampton and Watford but have lost only three times. Given that those were against Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, it shows how strong a side they are.
Five years ago Harry Kane scored at the Turf for Millwall in a 3-0 win. He’s already scored 19 Premier League goals this season but he won’t feature tomorrow because of the ankle injury he sustained recently in the FA Cup win against Millwall.
It doesn’t mean there will be no goal threat though. Dele Alli is not far behind with 14 goals while Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen have seven and six goals respectively.
Kane is not the only player ruled out. Danny Rose, who scored the winner against us in December at White Hart Lane, is recovering from a knee injury and Erik Lamela will undergo surgery tomorrow for a hip problem. Striker Vincent Janssen was also considered a doubt because of a chest infection but Spurs have since confirmed he will travel although he is not expected to start.
Burnley’s 32 points is only one short of the total we ended the 2014/15 season with and is by far the best return we’ve had at this stage of the season. That also applies to the current total Spurs have which is 59.
Two weeks ago, in their last game, they beat Southampton 2-1 at home with goals from Eriksen and Alli. Their team that day was: Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker, Victor Wanyama, Mousa Dembélé, Ben Davies, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son Heung-min. Subs: Michel Vorm, Kieran Trippier, Moussa Sissoko, Joshua Onomah, Kevin Wimmer, Harry Winks, Vincent Janssen.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
Burnley had won the previous home game against Manchester City 1-0 with a wonderful goal from George Boyd but we’d dropped to next to bottom in the league on the previous with only Leicester below us. We couldn’t have known we wouldn’t score a solitary goal in the remaining four home games and so hopes were high we could repeat the City win and pick up another vital three points.
The best chance of the entire game, which ended 0-0, came in the first five minutes when a poor back pass from Ryan Mason gave Danny Ings an opportunity but he shot straight at Michel Vorm.
Sam Vokes had a couple of opportunities too and Ashley Barnes was causing them the most problems from his position on the left hand side.
Spurs didn’t really create too much at all and, although it looked destined to be 0-0 for most of the game, and it was Burnley again in the second half who came closest. We almost won it too, right at the end. Kieran Trippier took a long throw which Ben Davies could only head straight into the air. From that Lukas Jutkiewicz headed across goal for Boyd who did really well to get in a header but it went just wide of the post with Vorm beaten.
The draw did, at least, move us back against QPR into 18th place. It was a position we would maintain for the remainder of the season.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Scott Arfield, David Jones, Ashley Barnes, Danny Ings, Sam Vokes (Lukas Jutkiewicz 76). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Michael Keane, Stephen Ward, Fredrick Ulvestad, Michael Kightly, Marvin Sordell.
Tottenham: Michel Vorm, Kyle Walker (Ben Davies 47), Eric Dier, Vlad Chiriches, Danny Rose, Ryan Mason (Andros Townsend 83), Nabil Bentaleb, Christian Eriksen, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli (Erik Lamela 64), Harry Kane. Subs not used: Brad Friedel, Benjamin Stambouli, Mousa Dembélé, Roberto Soldado.Follow UpTheClarets:
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