Burnley vs Sunderland Preview: Relegation six pointer to end 2016

Burnley host Sunderland on New Year's Eve, with both teams struggling in the bottom third of the Premier League.

Clarets look to end great year on a high

No matter the result in this game, it's been a great 2016 for Sean Dyche's Burnley side after they wrapped up the Championship title back in May and an instant return to the Premier League after relegation in 2015. However, if the Clarets do beat Sunderland on December 31 then they may start 2017 in the top half of the top flight.

The key to Burnley's year and their spell back in the Premier League so far has, without question, been the exceptional home form. The Clarets have picked up 19 points from a possible 27 at Turf Moor this season and this tally has counted for all but one of their 20 points in 18 league games this campaign. 

Burnley are a completely different team when they play at their compact and traditional home in east Lancashire. Dyche's team underlined this ability to grind out results at home, as they saw off Middlesbrough 1-0 on Boxing Day thanks to a late Andre Gray goal in a game that certainly wasn't a classic affair.

Injury curse strikes again

Sunderland's build-up to this game has been dominated by the news that starting goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford has been ruled out for at least six weeks with a knee injury. That was caused by a collision with his teammate, Papy Djilobodji in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester United the day after Christmas. 

David Moyes now faces a tough start to 2017 in terms of managing his squad due to long term injuries and the fact he'll be missing three players when the African Cup of Nations rolls around at the end of January. 

As far as the year goes for Sunderland, it's been a near carbon copy of last year. They played well in the first few months to guide themselves to top flight safety and then have endured a poor first three months of the next season to leave them struggling at the bottom of the league. The defeat at Old trafford last week leaves the Black cats third bottom on 14 points, currently two points from safety.

Team news

Burnley will be without record-signing Jeff Hendrick through suspension after he picked up his fifth booking of the campaign against Middlesbrough.  Meanwhile fellow midfielder, Dean Marney may also be unavailable after limping out of the Boxing Day game. Defender, Matt Lowton is available again though, after completing his suspension.

Adnan Januzaj is available again for Sunderland after he wasn't allowed to play against his parent club, Manchester United. Fellow midfielders Jack Rodwell and Steven Pienaar are both back in training after their short term injuries along with full-back, Javier Manquillo.

Stats

Burnley's only Premier League win against Sunderland was in the very first meeting of four between the two back in September 2009, where the Clarets won 3-1.

Burnley haven't lost their final league match in a calendar year since 2012. Sunderland have only won on one of their last 10 visits to newly promoted teams. 

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