Premier League 17/18 Week 36: Burnley vs Brighton & Hove Albion – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Clarets aim to make up lost ground on the Gunners in the race for 6th position when the Seagulls land on Turf Moor
15:00 BST, Saturday 28th April, Turf Moor (Burnley, England)
Burnley’s recent burst of form has popped and now Sean Dyche must find a way of firing his team forwards once more. The scent of a 6th-place finish could well be the ticket he chooses, something helped by playing a day earlier than the Arsenal team above them by a teasingly attractive 4 point gap.
Chris Hughton’s side may not have European football in their sights but they’re close to achieving their primary target. A 7 point lead over their relegation rivals means they could realistically achieve mathematical safety by Saturday teatime, however, a return of 2 points from a possible 18 out of their last 6 fixtures suggests sailing may not be so plain.
Last Time Out
Stoke City 1-1 Burnley (Premier League)
The Clarets put a poor first half behind them to roar back at a Potters side who were fighting for their top-flight lives. After falling behind to an early goal, Burnley remained sedate throughout the opening 45 minutes and were lucky not to be further behind the league’s 2nd-bottom side going into the interval.
Whatever Dyche said at half-time appeared to work as intended. Inspired by the creative force of Johann Berg Gudmundsson, the Clarets pushed Stoke firmly onto the back foot after the break. Ashley Barnes scored his side’s only goal shortly after an hour had passed but they could easily have had more if not for Jack Butland. The Clarets finished the match having taken 16 shots, 7 of which were on target and could consider themselves unlucky to return home with only a draw.
Brighton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)
Brighton stood strong against Spurs to earn a doggedly valuable point with a gritty performance. While Spurs fielded a team with 6 changes made to their starting lineup, Brighton had only 1 from their energetic 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace just 3 days prior. Tottenham dominated possession as was widely expected, however, Brighton showed no signs of weary legs and stood up to almost everything Spurs threw at them.
A mistake by Gaëtan Bong early in the second half gave Harry Kane a chance he didn’t refuse, but the Seagulls bounced straight back. A weaving run from José Izquierdo only 2 minutes later saw the Columbian hacked down by Serge Aurier and Pascal Groß made no mistake from the penalty spot. Tottenham continued to pour forward in search of a winning goal, however, Mathew Ryan and the Brighton defence provided a formidable barrier which earned their team a draw that took them marginally closer to safety.
The Clarets continue without the service of Ben Mee (shin) Steven Defour (knee) Scott Arfield (calf) Robbie Brady (knee) and Jonathan Walters (knee) while Georges-Kévin Nkoudou is unlikely to feature from the start after recovering from a persistent knee problem.
Davy Pröpper faces the final of his 3 game suspension while Izzy Brown (knee) and Steve Sidwell (back) both remain sidelined for Hughton this weekend. The return of Ezequiel Schelotto for Bruno Saltor is the only change expected from the draw with Tottenham in the Albion’s previous match.
Key Battle: Kevin Long (Burnley) vs Glenn Murray (Brighton)
For all of the talk about Burnley’s miserly defence, the Clarets have failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous 5 matches now. That Kevin Long has started the last 4 of these suggests that the centre-back is not having the same impact he enjoyed when he bowed into this season in early December. While both Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes are enjoying purple streaks at the opposite end of the pitch, a clean sheet will satisfy both Long and Dyche this weekend if Burnley can fall back into their old habits.
Burnley’s defensive cause could be helped by the misfiring Seagulls, a side who have now failed to score in 7 of their last 10 league games on the road. Murray has been Brighton’s brightest hope in attack this season, scoring twice as many league goals (12) as second-top scorer, Pascal Groß. With only a single goal from his last 5 matches, the 34-year-old striker will look to sharpen his aim against a team he missed a penalty against earlier this season.
Sean Dyche may no longer be commonly referred to as the ginger Mourinho, but the association of grit and determination with his team continues to thrive. While Dyche has always demanded his players run through brick walls for the team, they’re showing a new form of resilience.
Burnley have become a team who can fight their way back into a match, now regularly salvaging points from losing positions. The Clarets have conceded the first goal in almost half of their league games this season (17) but have only lost 10 of these, collecting 11 points along the way. With only 3 draws claimed from the 23 games they fell behind in last season, this is a new trend for Burnley which highlight’s a growing confidence in a team who have always had a hard-boiled centre.
No I in team
Pascal Groß picked up Brighton’s player-of-the-year award at the end of last week after a fine debut season with the Seagulls. Voted for by the fans, the German has been rewarded for his continued efforts on the pitch this season, something in no small way helped by a sensational run of form during the opening months.
In picking up the gong, the midfielder was only interested in praising his teammates for their contribution to the club’s relative success this season. While this may seem like a standard line issued by a player in his position, it uncovers a deeper truth of Brighton’s season. Chris Hughton’s side have been strong because of their collective efforts, rarely relying on the talents of any one individual throughout the season. While some players have come to the fore at various points of the season, they’re a perfect example of how a team sport should be played.
Prediction: Burnley 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Without a win in 10 away games in the Premier League now, Brighton will aim for a win but likely happy to claim a point. Turf Moor may not be the fortress it once was for Dyche’s Burnley and recent form may have dropped off with his team, however, this match could see the Clarets return to winning ways.
(Photo Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes)