Analysis: How a confident Burnley unit can push Stoke into further turmoil

Analysis: How a confident Burnley unit can push Stoke into further turmoil

Stoke are lingering just above the relegation zone whilst Burnley are putting pressure on the top four.

Chris Lincoln

You will struggle to find two teams generating wider contrasting levels of confidence in the latest set of midweek Premier League fixtures than Burnley and Stoke City. The Clarets go into the game just two points off the top four, whilst the Potters are only three points above the drop zone.

Shaqiri against Cork could be a key battle

Despite struggling for form, Stoke have been dangerous offensively, netting more times than any other side in the bottom half of the table and scoring four more than Burnley themselves.

Their key player going forward is Xherdan Shaqiri who has four goals and five assists in 12 Premier League outings. His ability to play between the lines will test the communication and awareness of the Burnley squad and Jack Cork is likely to be tasked with picking up the creative Swiss international.

However, Burnley have players all across the pitch in great touch and have been particularly impressive defensively. Ben Mee could return from injury to add the third strand of the organised triumvirate that boasts Nick Pope and James Tarkowski. Only the two Manchester clubs have better defensive records so far this season.

Clarets looking stronger in wide areas

Going forward, Burnley may fancy themselves to go a step further than their regular 1-0 scoreline. Stoke have conceded 35 goals in 16 games, more than any other side in the top-flight. The loss of Robbie Brady will be a big miss as he would have undoubtedly tested Mame Biram Diouf's questionable defending at right wing-back for the Potters. However, Scott Arfield will hustle and pressurise the former striker.

On the opposite side of the pitch, Iceland international Johann Berg Gudmundsson is enjoying the form of his life. He will be looking to produce the creative spark to gift Chris Wood a large chunk of chances in front of goal.

This contest could also be the opportunity for Burnley to show their ability of the ball. They have scored a handful of goals worked from a series of short passes, showing glimpses of the talent they possess.

If they delve into an aerial battle with Stoke then this could be a tight contest. Both sides are in the bottom four when it comes to pass completion rates but rank in the top three for the number of aerial duels won.