After 48 days since our last home league fixture, Burnley finally head back to Turf Moor in search of the points that could ensure survival. Today’s opponents are 2nd placed Tottenham, with the bookies making them favourites at 6/10.
We haven’t actually won a league game since 31st January, however it doesn’t feel like we are on a bad run of form. This is probably given our tough away run in and also our good performances in those games generally. Burnley won’t be feeling low on morale that’s for sure.
Spurs may be in second place, but like Burnley they have found it difficult to win away from home. 41 of their 57 points have come at White Hart Lane and they have only won away on four occasions, their last one coming on New Years Day at Watford.
I don’t think Spurs should be made such heavy favourites and I can see a low scoring game between the two sides today, potentially a one-goal-thriller.
Tottenham will be without striker Harry Kane who pulled up injured in their FA Cup win a few weeks ago, which will be a real blow as he has notched 19 goals and 4 assists so far this season, averaging a goal every 100 minutes, the best in the Premier League.
Saying that, Dele Alli isn’t a bad backup to have, and the key to stopping Spurs is how we deal with him. Personally I’m looking forward to the battle between Joey Barton and Alli in the middle of the park. It might sound negative, but if Barton can push Alli’s buttons we know he has a poor temperament – anything that can put him off his game will help Burnley this afternoon.
On the Burnley side of things, we finally saw Steven Defour return to first team duties 2 weeks ago against Sunderland, although he was an unused substitute. Defour’s absence has been a huge blow in my opinion, and at home we should be playing our best players. There is no doubt Defour is our most gifted player and he has shown flashed of that earlier in the season – if he can at least come off the bench today it will be a boost for the home fans and the team.
Michael Keane returns from his England duties and he will get a great reception from Clarets fans today. He became the first outfield player to make an England appearance in 40 years. He will be the anchor in defence once more and I think Spurs will have trouble scoring against us today.
I think Dyche will opt for a continuation of the 4-4-2 we have used recently, although I wouldn’t be averse to switching out Ashley Barnes in favour of a 4-5-1, allowing Barton to keep an eye on Alli and giving Defour and Hendrick licence to get forward and be creative. Another option would be having Hendrick in a wide right midfield role but frankly I fear the pace of Spurs fullbacks so it might be better to have George Boyd’s workrate on that flank.
It will be great to be back at home today for many reasons, and there is some new work going up outside the stadium this morning in time for the kickoff, as we unveil more of our ‘Turf Moor Heroes.’ The first went up in January and today will see installation of some key figures from the 60’s team who won the league. I can’t wait to see them.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, well let’s hope it’s worth the wait!
Burnley 1-0 Tottenham