Burnley vs West Ham Preview: Two clubs with contrasting form
West Ham kick-started their season with a win against Burnley in November (photo: Getty Images)

Burnley vs West Ham Preview: Two clubs with contrasting form

One side are languishing in the relegation zone whilst the other have their eyes firmly set on a top six finish.

Chris Lincoln

Only a few weeks ago, West Ham found themselves staring down the barrel of a potential survival fight. Yet they enter the second half of the season firmly in the top half of the table and aiming to chase down a top six finish.

The Hammers have won six of their last nine Premier League outings with the resurgence beginning with a 4-2 victory over Burnley at the start of November. In contrast, the Clarets have picked up just four points in that time period and are now three points from safety.

Unstoppable Anderson

West Ham clicked as an offensive unit that day and have scored at least three goals in four league outings during November and December. The attacking trio of Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez have netted 17 times already this season, as many as the entire Burnley squad combined.

The latter two are rated as 50-50 for this contest but Anderson will undoubtedly be the first name on Manuel Pellegrini's teamsheet. Only six players have scored more than the attacking midfielder who grabbed another brace against Southampton on Thursday. Like his team, Anderson's resurgence started against Burnley with two goals against Sean Dyche's side.

And Burnley may not even get much of an advantage from playing at Turf Moor. Not only do they have an increasingly restless crowd, who have seen them win just twice at home this season, but West Ham are unbeaten in their last five away matches at Turf Moor. They have, in fact, won more games on the road this season than any other side outside the top four.

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Feisty affair

Two of the last six meetings between these sides have seen red cards within the first 30 minutes and Burnley will look to turn this one into a physical battle, particularly with an aerial success rate much better than that of their visitors.

Pellegrini could be tempted to hand Andy Carroll his first start of the season to deal with such a challenge, particularly with fitness doubts lingering over Arnautovic and Hernandez. However, Carroll was one of those players to be sent off in recent meetings.

Such is the strength of the West Ham squad that Mark Noble could be left on the bench again, despite at least six first team players being unavailable, including midfielders Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere. In contrast, Burnley teenager Dwight McNeil could be thrown into the mix with Aaron Lennon injured and Robbie Brady doubtful.

End the year on a positive note

There is no doubting the importance of this fixture for both sides. West Ham have the fans back on their side, an achievement in itself since the ugly scenes witnessed when Burnley defeated them in the London Stadium back in March. With a series of winnable games ahead, victory here will continue their momentum into 2019.

Yet Burnley also need to hit the ground running for the new year. Six of their next nine matches after this encounter are against sides fighting against the drop.