Premier League 17/18 Week 38: Burnley vs Bournemouth – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Clarets face a Cherries side who don’t travel well but need a victory to force a move into the top half of the table
15:00 BST, Sunday 13th May, Turf Moor (Burnley, England)
Sean Dyche has exceeded all expectations placed on the Clarets this season, carrying the league’s dark horses to a guaranteed 7th position with matches to spare. But while home form was the secret to their success last season, this season has seen their fortress crumble slightly. Having dropped more points than they’ve collected (28:21) at home this season, this match is not the home-banker it would have been last season.
While Burnley are caught in a run of 4 matches without a win, Bournemouth broke their sequence of 3 successive defeats with victory over Swansea last weekend. Having only won 1 of their previous 12 league matches (D6, L5) away from home, Eddie Howe’s team will need to break this sequence too if they’re to have any chance of a second consecutive finish in the Premier League’s top half.
Last Time Out
Arsenal 5-0 Burnley (Premier League)
Burnley were crushed in Wenger’s final home game in charge of the Gunners to extinguish any hope of a 6th-place finish. This was always destined to be Wenger’s day with a home win expected by many of the away fans, however, the nature and margin of victory was unexpected.
Defensive naivety was to blame for many of Arsenal’ goals as the Burnley backline failed to handle the movement of Arsenal’s forwards. Arsenal took the lead in the 14th minute and only an injury time goal doubled this advantage heading into the break.
Lacking of intensity after the break too, the Clarets failed to work as a collective unit which allowed the Gunners plenty of space to attack down the wings. With Arsenal’s final three goals coming at regular intervals, this was a game to forget for Burnley but a game which Dyche will remind them of this week to prevent it happening again.
Bournemouth 1-0 Swansea City (Premier League)
The Cherries delivered a damning blow to Swansea’s hopes of survival with a deserved win to end their own poor run. Bournemouth made a fast start to the game which immediately put the Swans onto the back foot.
It was a tactic which not only prevented Swansea causing problems for the home team, it also yielded a goal as the pressure mounted. Ryan Fraser was the player to score for the Cherries, sending a first-time shot into the goal from the edge of the area after Andrew Surman’s free-kick found him in space.
It was no less than they deserved after wasting a succession of chances prior to the goal. While the second half saw them drop their intensity, they remained the team most likely to add to the score as they easily contained Swansea to see out the win.
Dyche has a long injury list comprising Chris Wood (foot) Ashley Barnes (shoulder) Ben Mee (shin) Steven Defour (knee) Scott Arfield (calf) Robbie Brady (knee) and Jonathan Walters (knee). This will most probably see the return of the 4-5-1 formation which has fallen out of favour recently with the Clarets, with Sam Vokes the player to head their attack.
Adam Smith (knee) Harry Arter (Achilles) and Junior Stanislas (knee) will again form a missing trio for the Cherries while Howe could stick with his recent experiments of a 3-4-3 formation which has been tempting him over the past two matches.
Key Battle: Sam Vokes (Burnley) vs Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
The form of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have left Vokes as very much a 3rd choice striker with the Clarets but he will finally be given an opportunity to shine. The Welsh striker began the season in spectacular fashion, scoring twice at Stamford Bridge in the opening game of the season to lead his side to victory over the defending champions.
Since then he’s scored only twice more in the league despite clocking up over 850 minutes of action. After spending time with Bournemouth earlier in his career, Vokes will have mixed feelings if he scores, however, that’s unlikely to deter him from his objective.
Callum Wilson may have received more chances to impress, but he’s also fallen short of the levels he would have hoped for at the season’s beginning. Only making his first appearance of the season in late October because of injury, Wilson scored a hat-trick in only his 2nd start to provide hope he would deliver on the potential which has been bubbling inside him for several years now.
Only 4 more goals this season, including a current run of 12 games without scoring, has dashed those hopes hard against the rocks. While his all-around game has helped his team throughout this season, he will be desperate to add more goals to his record as this is the currency with which strikers are ultimately judged.
Following the template
While Eddie Howe continues to read speculation linking him with a switch in clubs this summer, the highly rated English manager has nothing but Bournemouth’s preparations for next season on his mind. He spoke in his pre-match press conference about the need for his club to add quality signings but also spoke that he didn’t want or feel the need to make too many adjustments.
While he didn’t go as far as admitting it, the Cherries would do well to follow the example which Burnley have laid this season. Dyche stabilised the club in the top-flight before pushing them forward to be one of the most competitive teams in the league.
While consistency has been the main factor for this, a solid defensive unit has been key to Burnley’s success and what Howe must now try and construct around Nathan Aké, the player who is widely seen as their best player of this campaign.
Many Premier League managers have enjoyed success from sticking to a core set of players throughout this season but Eddie Howe encapsulates this philosophy. Only 21 players have appeared for the Cherries during their current campaign, less than any other team in the league.
While part of this can be attributed to a small part of luck in avoiding major injury problems, Eddie Howe’s management should also be given credit for ensuring his players didn’t suffer avoidable injuries along the way.
Burnley, too, have prospered from this tactic, however, their more extensive injury record could account for the 2 extra players to have made appearances for them this season. With both teams not expected to make any wholesale changes for this fixture, both sides should know exactly what’s expected of them by their manager on Sunday.
Prediction: Burnley 0-0 Bournemouth
It will feel like a long but successful season for both sets of players, however, this final step could prove to be little more than a lethargic plod towards a well-deserved rest.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/Ian Walton)