Although Burnley have been only occasional visitors to the Premier League their years spent in the top division of English football (they were a founder member of the Football League in 1888) is roughly similar to our own. In the days of the leveller playing field they actually managed to win the First Division title on two occasions; initially in 1921 and then again, under manager Harry Potts, when they become the first of 8 different sides to be crowned champions during the 1960’s. The interesting feature of that campaign was that all other games had already been completed while Burnley had an outstanding fixture at Manchester City to fulfil. The Clarets needed to win to become champions which they duly did to step into top spot for the first time that season. As an aside only 9 of the 22 teams that competed in that 1959/60 season are in the Premier League today.
Current manager Sean Dyche is adhering to the more parochial standards of bygone days by employing a largely British and Irish group of players in his squad. Of the starting XI in their match against Bournemouth at the weekend only Steven Defour was born overseas – although Ashley Barnes and Scott Arfield have played their international football for Austria and Canada respectively. No disruption by the African Cup of Nations for them.
We need to beat Burnley and we need the points. It has been a difficult schedule and we have been waiting for these home games.
– Slaven Bilic
Dyche’s well organised side have made a respectable start to the season based on impressive home form. On their travels they have taken just a single point from 6 games and scored just the one goal.
Having negotiated the run of ‘difficult’ games West Ham now embark on a series of supposed ‘winnable’ fixtures between now and the New Year. A hard earned point at Liverpool will hopefully provide the impetus to collect several more over the next two weeks.
Head to Head
A generally even head to head record where history has favoured the home team but can that run be extended to the new home venue? Of the last 12 encounters, West Ham have won 7 times with 2 defeats and 3 draws.
Cheikhou Kouyate may return for the Hammers and if this is the case I expect Bilic will, despite everything, retain the 3 at the back formation with Kouyate teaming up with Reid and Ogbonna. The remainder of the lineup will then depend on who starts as lone striker. After two appearances off the bench it may well be time to start with Andy Carroll. Failing that it is likely to be Michail Antonio which would be preferable to playing your leading scorer at right back.
We know we have to go down there and give an even better performance because we haven’t got a win away from home yet. We know we’ve got to correct it.
– Sean Dyche
I would much prefer a back four even if we have no proper right back solution. I don’t know what happened to Arbeloa at the weekend (he is not shown as injured) but I would plump for Fernandes at right back who looks much more of a footballer than hapless Havard does – I wonder what Adrian is like at right back! All a little academic a I believe Slav is smitten with his Back 3 plus two wing backs tactic.
The remainder of the midfield will likely be Obiang, Payet, Noble and one of Lanzini/ Ayew. I have read that Dimi has been having special personal service treatment on the massage table this week and so if all goes well we can expect for a happy ending to the evening.
Kouyate Reid Ogbonna
Antonio Obiang Noble Creswell
Fernandes Reid Ogbonna Cresswell
Antonio Kouyate Obiang Payet
Man in the Middle
The whistle blower tonight is Robert “Bobby” Madely from West Yorkshire. This is his second visit to the London Stadium this season having previously officiated in the win against Sunderland. We have yet to lose in a game where Madely has been the ref including a Capital One cup win at Burnley in 2013. In Madely’s 13 games this season he has brandished 64 Yellow and 2 Red cards.