Brady Body Blow Will Not Unbalance Burnley

07 December 2017
It's back to Turf Moor for Andre Gray on Saturday as the Robbie Bradyless Clarets entertain Watford, kick off 3pm. 

This is the 16th Premier League fixture of the season and with the half way mark of the season approaching, both teams sit surprisingly comfortable just outside the top 6.

Watford currently lie in 8th place, just 3 points and one place below Burnley, who could move back into the top six with a win.

The  Burnley players have a demanding 7 league games in December to play  and this is the first of two quick home games in succession. Stoke City are the next visitors on Tuesday night, Tottenham Hotspur will complete the first half of the season's home fixtures on the 23rd December. 

All 3 games offer a good opportunity to add to the Clarets already impressive number of points and move towards their first target of the season, the 40 points mark, generally accepted as the bench mark for Premier League survival.

In reality, survival is likely with fewer points in this campaign and this Burnley team are capable of a much higher points total by the end of the season.

There isn't a great deal of tradition and history between Burnley and Watford and it was only in 1971 that the two teams played their first ever league game, a League 2 fixture.

Burnley's home record against Watford is very good. In the 19 games played between the two teams at the Turf, Watford have only come away twice with full points.

Burnley have won 5 and drawn 4 of the last 9 home games against their Hertfordshire opponents who were comfortably beaten 2-0 in last season's corresponding Premier League fixture.

Despite the Clarets impressive home record  against Watford, anyone old enough will remember the 2003 Turf Moor fixture between the two sides.

With the half time score 5-4 to the visitors and 2 further goals in the second half, it was Watford who inflicted one of the Clarets biggest home defeats in memory a 7-4 reversal, despite a Gareth Taylor hat trick.

In goal that day was Marlon Beresford and it is to be hoped Nick Pope has a much better day on Saturday.

Micah Hyde scored for Watford that day and went on to play for Burnley , ensuring himself a place in the fans memory with a wonderful equaliser at Ewood Park at the Burnley end, in a 2005 5th round FA Cup replay.

Watford have a very good away record this season having won 4 of 7 games on the road, accumulating an impressive 13 points on their travels away from Vicarage Road.

Their Portuguese manager Silva  is highly rated, despite taking Hull City down last season and at one time this season was thought to be replacing the sacked Ronald Koemann at Everton.

Silva has made 10 signings in the close season, including buying Andre Gray from Burnley. As things stand this looks excellent business for the Clarets but I don't think this is a good time to be dwelling on the former Burnley hero's poor start to his Watford career.

The Hornets top scorer is the Brazilian Richarlison with 5 goals. They have another Brazilian in goal, Gomes who has kept 5 clean sheets, one less than
Burnley's Nick Pope.

I thought Pope was unfairly criticised in some quarters after the Leicester game . After the early Leicester goal he went on to have a good game and again showed great composure for such a young and inexperience goalkeeper thrown into the highest level of football in this country.

Burnley's home record in 7 games this season  is W 3 D2 L2 so there is every reason to be confident going into the game.
The week's events have obviously been overshadowed by in form Robbie Brady's bad injury which rules him out for the rest of the season. Sean Dyche however, has dealt with these cruel omissions by injury before. Dyche's pragmatism seems to rub off on his players and it's always business as usual.

No doubt Brady will be a big miss as his movement, inventiveness and delivery into the box has been one of the keys to the quality football Burnley fans have been watching their team play over the last few games.

At the moment the Clarets have no like for like replacement for the effervescent Brady, but Dyche's men have accrued plenty of points this season when Brady hasn't been at the top of his form.

Despite Brady's absence there should be no reason his loss should lead to the dramatic collapse in form I feel some Clarets fans may have in the back of their minds.

As Dyche always says, situations like this can open the door for other players to come in and impress. Personally, I'm hoping this is one of the players like Wells, Walters or Taylor who we haven't seen much of so far this season.

So, despite the unlucky away setback to a very good Leicester team who we made look ordinary in the first half last Saturday, it will be a confident Burnley side who face a very good away side on Saturday.

With the added spice of a return for  Burnley Andre Gray, I am anticipating quite a game and atmosphere. Stephen Ward is certainly aware of the threat Gray poses and warned, "We'll just get one of our lads to kick him early on,"

Eire international and Clarets left back Ward added, "We know all about him and it'll be good to see him. We all know what he did for us. He's got pace, power, he can score goals, it's as simple as that."

Brady out, Gray returning but as always, "Come on you Clarets, let's have another 3 points!"

This Burnley centric match preview was written by regular Clarets Mad contributor Michael Donnelly, alias "The Donz". (TEC).