Burnley versus West Bromwich Albion is one of those contests that you would expect to see upholding the graveyard shift on a football highlights show. From a distance, both sides are perceived as direct and aggressive opponents with very few options of firepower.
The hosts carry a threat on the flanks
Yet, as Burnley proved against the champions last weekend, it is easy to underestimate the footballing ability of these teams. Burnley ran riot at Stamford Bridge, netting three goals as they romped to a comfortable lead against Chelsea before half-time.
They were particularly poignant from wide areas. Blessed with full-backs who are not afraid to attack at the right opportunity and combined with the crossing ability of Robbie Brady, Burnley are dangerous from the flanks against any opposition.
Sam Vokes took charge of the Chelsea penalty area last weekend and will be looking to add to his early season goal tally this weekend. With West Brom missing Gareth McAuley and Manchester City target Jonny Evans facing a late fitness test, the Baggies may not be as strong in central defensive areas.
If Burnley boss Sean Dyche opts to play a 4-4-2 instead of the 4-5-1 he deployed against Chelsea, the hosts will hold an even greater threat in the West Brom penalty area. However, such a venture could open opportunities for the visitors in the middle of the pitch.
West Brom look dangerous going forward
Albeit in his twilight years, the signing of Gareth Barry was a shrewd one by Tony Pulis. The defensive midfielder will look to run the tempo of the game with his passing ability alongside Jake Livermore. If Burnley take to the field with just two players in the engine room, the combination of Barry and Livermore could dictate the flow of the game.
They will pose a considerable threat going forward too. Stephen Ward may have scored a thunderbolt for Burnley last weekend but both he and Matt Lowton were suspect defensively in the full-back areas last season. With the likes of James McClean and Matt Phillips boasting considerable speed and talent, the Burnley defence could be tested in wide areas.
James Tarkowski will have an important role to play alongside Ben Mee in the centre of defence. The pair will comfortable against Michy Batshuayi on Saturday but struggled to cope with the movement of Alvaro Morata when he was introduced. Whether Pulis opts to start with Jay Rodriguez, Salomon Rondon or both, the Burnley defenders will expect to be tracking runs for the entirety of the game.
The data implies goals
Statistics also suggest this will be an open contest. There have been three or more goals between these sides in each of their last ten meetings. Burnley have scored at least two in their last five home matches against West Brom, whilst the Baggies have netted more than one goal in six of their last seven fixtures with the Clarets.
Yet a determining factor could be that of Turf Moor. Burnley picked up 83% of their points at home last season and are undefeated in their last six matches against West Brom on familiar territory.