The Irons visit Turf Moor needing a win

By The Editor's Chair
11 October 2017

The Premier League is back and Burnley welcome West Ham United to Turf Moor on Saturday with the expectation of another full house, complimented by a lively away following.

West Ham  are a team with a good footballing tradition, being the last team outside the top division to win the FA Cup, when a rare Trevor Brooking  headed goal helped them beat Arsenal 1-0  in 1980.

The Hammers are also the last all English team to win the FA Cup in 1975 when they beat Fulham 2-0, both goals being scored by ex-Burnley striker Alan Taylor. The losing Fulham goalkeeper that day was also an ex-Claret, Peter Mellor.

The only similarity between the two clubs these days is that we both play in Claret and Blue.

West Ham are  a club  who now sadly suffer from delusions of grandeur, firmly believing that their rightful place is at the top of the Premier League. Why else would they be backing the big 6 in their international revenue dispute?

The reality of the situation is that they are having another  poor season and look like they will once again be in the relegation mix. The latest  league table shows them in a lowly fifteenth position in the table after 7 games, with 4 defeats. Compare that to a strong  Burnley start to the season, sixth position and just one defeat to a West Brom side who managed to score from their one shot on target. 

The Clarets will undoubtedly start the game as favourites.

A terrible start to this season saw the Hammers  lose their first three games, conceding 10 goals in the process. Manchester United, Southampton and Newcastle all exposed their defensive frailties with ease. Bilic has already tinkered with and fielded 3 different back lines this season.

In addition, the beleaguered Irons boss is struggling to find his best attacking formation and the goals have dried up, creating worrying times for Bilic and the Hammers fans.

Three losses and a draw in their four away games this season suggests that this could finally be the game where Burnley can put an end to their terrible recent record against the Hammers , who have a 100% record in their last five competitive games against the Clarets.

The long knives are now well and truly out for Bilic who is in the last year of his contract and allegedly struggling to maintain discipline with his players, despite the 1-0 victory against Swansea in their last Premier League game. 

One player who has swiftly departed from the London Stadium is former Sean Dyche target Robert Snodgrass, who recently publicly tried to  ridicule Bilic for not knowing the player's preferred position. It appears Burnley may have had a rather lucky escape with Mr Snodgrass.

There is a sharp and stark contrast between the fortunes of Saturday's opposing managers at the moment .

Sean Dyche will have a buoyant set of players back this week from World Cup qualifying duty. The one exception being Sam Vokes, who I am sure will now put his disappointment with Wales  behind him and concentrate on beating his record 10 Premier League goals  tally from  last season.

Big Sam remains a big favourite among the fans and his teammates.

Another player who will be buoyed up this week is Nick ' Popeye' Pope, who has signed a new 3 year contract with the option of a further 12 months extension.

"Popeye2 Pope has kept 3 clean sheets in his 4 Premier League games since replacing Tom Heaton who was seriously injured in the home win against Palace. This is a welcome bonus for Sean Dyche after losing the England goalkeeper when the pundits expected Burnley to struggle without the England shot stopper between the sticks.

It's a long time since Burnley fans have experienced such good times and after watching their supposed long ball team string 24 passes together to score a quite sublime winning goal against Everton, it's pretty heady stuff at present, even for the most reserved of Clarets' fan. 

Despite this, I'm sure Sean Dyche will be keeping his players' and staff's feet firmly on the ground. It has been very noticeable in recent weeks how he has been singling out individual players for a special mention, even those who have yet to feature.

Man management is a strong component of Dyche's psyche, he knows it's a long season and he needs every player to come in ready when needed, knowing their role and feeling an integral part of the squad.

Despite Burnley's recent poor record against the Hammers it must be noted that the Clarets have recorded a Premier League win against the East Londoners. In February 2010, David Nugent and Danny Fox goals gave the Clarets a 2-1 home win.

That proved to be only one of  3 wins under Brian Laws that season following his appointment after the duplicitous Owen Coyle left Turf Moor for a club located in Horwich, that were ostensibly ten years ahead of the Clarets at the time. 

Funny game is football!

So can Burnley record another win on Saturday under the auspices of Sean Dyche?

There is a big gulf between West Ham on a good day and West Ham on a bad day, they may currently have a tendency to capitulate but can Burnley build the necessary pressure to take advantage of an Irons bad day at the office?

Dyche is presently constructing a team with a speed of movement that might allow the Clarets to take advantage of the ageing legs within the present West Ham team.

I suggest if the home team's ball retention is up to the standard shown so far this season, the Clarets will be  better prepared for a midfield battle with the Hammers than in previous seasons.

Javier Hernandez  is for me the Hammers' danger man, so I hope he starts on the bench and the game evolves into a physical battle against their big forwards.

With the the form that the Burnley centre backs Ben Mee and James Tarkowski are displaying at the moment, ably supported by Matt Lowton and Stephen Ward, Dyche must be quietly confident the resolute Burnley defence can once again get the upper hand over yet another Premier League strike force. 

Another clean sheet to add to the 3 already collected would come in very handy indeed!

While the Hammers have picked up a couple of  home wins against a toothless Huddersfield and a struggling Swansea, it is the Irons' winless away start this season bagging only 1 point from a possible 12, which gives me the belief that a win is finally on the cards for the inform and upbeat Clarets.

John Berg Gudmundsson has been on fire for Iceland in the World Cup qualifiers and now would be the perfect time to get his Turf Moor season off and running with the winning goal. Now seriously Looking forward to three points and a fruitless home journey for the travelling Irons.

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

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