Burnley vs West Ham Preview: Can the Clarets extend their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League?

Two wins and three draws in their last five encounters have shot Burnley up to sixth in the league.

Burnley vs West Ham Preview: Can the Clarets extend their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League?
Nick Pope and James Tarkowski have taken their chances for Burnley this season (photo: Getty Images / Alex Livesey)

Two sides with contrasting fortunes in the opening weeks of the season meet at Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon. Burnley are currently in the midst of their longest unbeaten run in the top flight, whilst West Ham's manager, Slaven Bilic, finds his job under pressure as the Hammers linger just above the relegation zone.

Different fortunes in defence

The international break arguably came at the wrong time for both teams. Burnley stretched their undefeated streak to five games with an impressive victory away to Everton and West Ham picked up three valuable points against Swansea to lift them out of the bottom three.

Neither side has been scoring goals at will this season, with just seven strikes apiece in as many games. However, it is Burnley's defence that has helped them move nine places above their opponents this weekend. A solid back four protected by the instrumental Jack Cork has ensured the Clarets boast the third best defensive record in the top flight with just five goals conceded.

Burnley appear organised and resolute, combined with excellent match knowledge. They may have only won by a single goal in all three of their successes this season but also only lost their one solitary defeat by a close margin. Burnley know exactly how to manufacture a contest against the teams placed in front of them.

In contrast, West Ham have been all at sea in defence. Even the additions of Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart have failed to solidify a Hammers defence that has shipped more goals than every team in the Premier League bar Crystal Palace in the opening seven matches. 

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West Ham have a solid record against the Clarets

However, the visitors have history in their favour going into this contest. West Ham have won their last four Premier League matches against Burnley and are looking for a fifth consecutive success - an achievement they have only managed against Blackburn Rovers in the top flight.

Yet the Hammers will have to overcome a record of ten games without a win in their last eleven Premier League away fixtures. Goals have been hard to come by with the London club, failing to hit the target in three of their four trips on the road this season.

That said, Burnley have only scored once in three home matches and with nine of the last eleven matches at Turf Moor resulting in two goals less, the first goal will be important this Saturday.

Hammers welcome back several key players

Sean Dyche will be without long-term absentees, Jonathan Walters and Tom Heaton. Nakhi Wells and Dean Marney are set to feature for the Under-23s on Friday but will not be included in Saturday's squad.

Slaven Bilic will be buoyed by the returns of attacking duo Javier Hernandez and Manuel Lanzini. James Collins is still recovering from an ankle injury but Pedro Obiang and Edmilson Fernandes should be available.