Eleven Premier League matches have been played since the season resumed last week but one team is still awaiting their first fixture since March. That wait ends tonight for Burnley with a trip to reigning champions Manchester City.
Sean Dyche’s team were in a fine run of form before the season was halted three months ago, having gone seven league matches without defeat. They sit 11th going into tonight’s clash at the Etihad Stadium, Crystal Palace having climbed above them by beating Bournemouth on Saturday night (as per premierleague.com).
Trips to Manchester City have been chastening experiences for the Clarets in recent visits, having lost there four times in the two previous seasons and been subjected to a pair of 5-0 defeats last term. Pep Guardiola’s side also ran out 4-1 winners in the reverse fixture at Turf Moor in December. [via TransferMarkt]
Dyche also must plan without two of his three top scorers in Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, both missing through injury, while Johann Berg Gudmundsson is also sidelined (as per Lancashire Live). With those absences in mind, here is Football Transfer Tavern’s predicted Burnley starting XI for tonight:
Joe Hart is highly unlikely to feature against his former club, with the England veteran discovering at the weekend that he will be released by the Clarets in eight days’ time. The ever-reliable Nick Pope continues in goal and will have a familiar back four ahead of him, with centre-back duo Ben Mee and James Tarkowski remaining on course to play every Premier League minute this season. The full-back positions are set to be occupied by Charlie Taylor and Phil Bardsley, with the latter keeping his place as Matthew Lowton has only recently returned to training.
Moving to midfield, it seems likely that Dwight McNeil and Jeff Hendrick will keep their places on the flanks, even with the Irishman rapidly approaching the end of his contract at Turf Moor. Jack Cork also looks set to maintain his place in the middle of the park, although there could be a change as to his central midfield partner.
As noted by Lancashire Live, Ashley Westwood is one booking away from a two-match suspension. With Manchester City likely to have a distinct majority of possession (their 61.7% average is the highest in the Premier League; Burnley have the second lowest with 43.1%), there seems a strong chance that the 30-year-old could commit a foul which brings him a fateful yellow card. Therefore, Dyche might keep him in reserve and instead hand a full debut to Josh Brownhill, who has made just one very brief substitute appearance since joining from Bristol City in January.
The absences of Wood and Barnes up top means that the Clarets’ attacking duo is almost certainly going to be Matej Vydra and Jay Rodriguez. The latter started alongside Wood in Burnley’s last match against Tottenham three months ago, so that would mean one change to Dyche’s front line as his Czech colleague comes into the team in place of the New Zealander.
Burnley fans, do you think this will be the starting XI chosen by Dyche tonight? Comment below with your views!
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