Burnley away this Saturday evening and a proper tough game in prospect against a team who, based on an impressively sound defence and a habit of scoring goals at key moments are having a wild wild season, compared to expectations that is, I don’t think any side that has had six 1-0s, a 0-0, and a 2-0 in its last nine games will ever get the epithet The Entertainers. The other result was a 2-1 win at Bournemouth since you ask – truly edge of the seat stuff given the generally Binary nature of the other scorelines.
Still, football is a results business apparently in which case Claret fans will be delighted with their current league status despite the lack of thrills and spills; 32 points harvested already and a win tomorrow would put them four points clear of us in fifth place.
So who is behind this almost magical upturn in the fortunes at Turf Moor? Well Sean Dyche of course. But what about on the pitch? Unsurprisingly it’s the defence that draws the plaudits with Mee and Tarkowski regularly mentioned in despatches. In the reverse fixture at Wembley it was Robbie Brady in midfield who caught the eye, he though is crocked for the foreseeable future. Stephen Defour works hard in midfield as do Hendricks and Gudmundsson. Up front, Chris Wood plays as an accomplished Big Man. So is it all about hard work and organisation? Erm, probably not but it’s hard to say where the magic comes from. Given the constant low and close scoring maybe there is no magic?
The battering we took last weekend leaves us at something of a crossroads. If we take it to heart, if confidence is dented and the players start doubting themselves then it could be a long second half to the season. If we use it as an opportunity for a reboot then with these opponents being followed by Southampton & Swansea it’s not impossible that we’ll be back firmly in the top four before we face West Ham at Wembley on January 4.
Due to injuries there’s not much rejigging to be done though I suspect Poch will do his utmost to try some. Sanchez is back so we might go back to a three in defence but Dembele and Winks had such a torrid time last week that he’ll be tempted to play a four and move Dier into midfield with maybe Sissoko to help out. Lamela for Dele? We’ll see.
Michael Oliver is the referee.
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