Dyche Hoping to Avoid a Sting in the Hornets’ Nest.
Sean Dyche returns to Vicarage Road on Saturday, looking to add three more points in the Clarets’ quest for European football next season.
The English Premier League game is scheduled to kick off at 15.00 GMT on Saturday 7th April at Vicarage Road, the spiritual home of the Hornets.
Former Watford manager Dyche, is on record as saying he enjoyed his five years with the Hornets before he was sacked following a change of ownership when the Pozzo family took control of the Hertfordshire outfit.
The game will have added poignancy, following the untimely death of former Watford Assistant Manager Ray Wilkins. There will no doubt to be a minute allowed prior to kick off to remember the life of one of Britain’s favourite footballing sons.
Looking forward to the game ahead, Watford boss Javi Garcia has been drilling his squad this week in learning the arts of playing against what he describes as Burnley’s “long ball tactics”.
The Watford manager with the greatest of respect, might need reminding to analyse Saturday’s opponents from the North West with a little more clarity. Who can possibly ignore the twenty-one-pass goal Jeff Hendrick finished off in a well-earned 1-0 Burnley victory at Goodison Park earlier this season?
Burnley striker Ashley Barnes is candidate for goal of the month following last Saturday’s spectacular mid-air scissors kick at the Hawthorns. The goal was so astonishing in its brilliance, even the mercurial Christian Ronaldo tried to emulate it in a Real Madrid canter in Turin in midweek.
Barnes’ striking partner in crime, ex-Leeds player Chris Wood is also nominated but this time for EPL player of the month. The goals have started to flow freely for the Burnley duo, in part I feel down to the footballing nous ex-Tottenham and England international Aaron Lennon has brought to the Clarets squad.
To make it a hat trick of nominations at Turf Moor for the month of March, Sean Dyche is also nominated as EPL manager of the month, following three straight Clarets’ league wins on the bounce.
It is starting to sound ridiculous to keep referring to the seventh placed artful Clarets as a plain old fashioned English long ball outfit who only know how to play one way.
The sublimely gifted Icelander, Johann Berg Gudmundsson is the walking contradiction of long ball football. Sadly, his silky skills look likely to miss the trek to Hertfordshire. A niggling calf injury, picked up last week in training will probably keep him out of the game.
Ben Mee who has been an inspiration all season at the heart of a mean Burnley defence is also doubtful. Burnley gaffer Dyche has another dilemma to ponder, thrice England capped Tom Heaton is fully recovered from his shoulder injury and is hoping to win his place back in the Burnley goal.
Nick Pope has been splendid for Burnley, keeping ten clean sheets whilst deputising for the Burnley skipper. Pope could still force his way into Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup in Russia. Heaton harbours similar ambitions, Dyche has a huge selection headache with this one!
Leicester City realistically, are the only team on the radar who can thwart the Clarets’ European ambitions. They are up next at Turf Moor in what promises to be a titanic struggle for three valuable points. Dyche will as always be sticking to his “one game at a time mantra” and I expect the Clarets to line-up:
(4-4-2) Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Long, Ward, Cork, Westwood, Lennon, GK Nkoudou, Barnes, Wood.
Just a thought, but I wonder if the Pozzo family ever regret sacking Sean Dyche back in 2012? (TEC).