14:15 KO (BST); Sunday 1st October; Goodison Park (Liverpool, England) Sky Sports
Just when Ronald Koeman and Everton think they’ve turned a corner from their poor start to the season, they find themselves once again driving towards the sun. A late turnaround in the game against Bournemouth last weekend served more to paper cracks than instilling hope but it gives the Toffees a chance to claim back-to-back wins in the Premier League this season and head north.
With only a single defeat from their first six games, the Clarets have been ruthlessly efficient in a run of games in which they’ve taken five points from Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham away from home. They now travel back to Merseyside in full confidence to take on a team who are sorely lacking this critical ingredient.
Last Time Out
EVERTON 2 – 2 Apollon Limassol (Europe League)
The Toffees threw away a glorious chance to record their first win in Group E of the Europe League on Thursday Evening. When Valentin Roberge earned himself a red card in the 86th minute with the Cypriot side trailing 2-1, an Everton victory seemed an inevitability. Their season was summed up in the last five minutes of this game though as Hector Yuste secured his side a point with an 88th-minute header while Dominic Calvert-Lewin could not retrieve the situation despite a good chance falling to the youngster in injury time.
There were several good, if not fully rounded performances from Everton’s attacking players with Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurðsson looking more comfortable and efficient than they have in recent weeks. Nikola Vlasic also looked promising when the new signing came off the bench to replace Idrissa Gueye at half-time but it was an overall display that still poses many more questions than answers for Ronald Koeman.
BURNLEY 0 – 0 Huddersfield Town (Premiership)
A poor spectacle of a game was only enlivened by an obvious dive from the Terriers Rajiv van La Parra in the 73rd minute. The incendiary incident provided no advantage for his team but it also went unpunished and left a sour taste in the mouth for most fans watching on, irrespective of their club allegiance.
It provided a talking point in a match which was otherwise bereft of action. With all four shots on goal arriving in the second half, it was clear by that point that both teams were happy to take a point apiece as new forward Chris Wood could not make a telling impact on the game. With Steven Defour and Jack Cork passing the ball around well in the centre of the pitch, Burnley were solid at the back but lacked a cutting edge going forward, much like their rivals on a forgettable Saturday afternoon.
Michael Keane (foot) Phil Jagielka (hamstring) Seamus Coleman (leg) and Ramiro Funes Mori (leg) are all missing in defence which could see Koeman stick with a back four against Burnley. Further up the pitch, Yannick Bolasie (knee) Ross Barkley (hamstring) and James McCarthy (knee) are all still out of action for the Toffees.
Tom Heaton (shoulder) Jon Walters (knee) Dean Marney (knee) and Nahki Wells (ankle) will all again miss out for Sean Dyche’s team although Johann Gudmundsson should make a return to the starting lineup on the right wing for the Clarets.
Key Battle: Kevin Mirallas vs Jonas Gudmundsson
One of the biggest problems for Everton this season has been the lack of pace they have across the pitch. While Mirallas has found himself rarely used by Everton so far this season, he offers raw pace to the team and Koeman should turn to him this weekend as he seeks an alternative solution to his side’s current problems.
Gudmundsson has been a revelation in the Burnley side for Sean Dyche this season. His pace down the right wing has provided a real threat for the Clarets and his presence was sorely missed last weekend. Having only played one full game in the League so far, expect Gudmundsson to provide a high-octane display at the start of the game as Burnley look to make a quick strike against the Toffees.
Balancing Hard Work with Creativity
Much of Burnley’s success on the road this season can be attributed to determination and organisation. A rigid system has been used by Sean Dyche which makes them a tough team to break down as they don’t allow the opposition forwards any space to operate in. With three teams expecting to challenge for the Premiership title finding themselves struck by the problem Burnley have posed defensively, it’s a tactic that the Clarets have refined to good effect now.
This comes at the expense of creativity and a cutting edge, however. As was evident last weekend against Huddersfield, the Clarets rely on a team attacking them to exploit their opposition on the break. When they’re faced with another defensive side such as the Terriers, there’s a distinct lack of keys for Burnley to open the door. With Everton likely to play with one striker and a cautious approach following a run of disappointing results for them, Burnley will again face a similar problem.
A Solution or a Problem?
Wayne Rooney became a divisive figure among fans of Manchester United during his last few seasons at the club. Equally respected and lambasted, Rooney’s past achievements often seemed to carry his reputation more than his abilities, something that Mourinho and the England management seemed to pick up on to his increasingly diminishing role within both teams. At only 31 years old now, these last two years should have been seeing him produce some of his most accomplished performances to date with a refined technique and years of experience to draw from.
The main problem in his game often seems to be his lack of discipline in sticking to a collective gameplan. Whichever position his manager uses him, Rooney is often found drifting away from his main team responsibilities as he goes hunting for the ball and a piece of the action. He may be given the freedom by his manager to play in this way, however, it can often be to the detriment of the team. With individual performances by Rooney earning him man-of-the-match awards, it may be the case that he’s too good to leave out, yet not good enough to play in the team.
PREDICTION: Everton 1 – 1 Burnley
With victories bookending the first six games of the season for Everton, the Toffees have slowly improved over the last month but this rate may not be quick enough for many of their fans. It will be another nervy affair for them this weekend against a team who are quickly establishing themselves as a force to consider in the league. While Burnley exploit Everton’s current lack of form and confidence, I can see this game ending with honours even and a point each.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?