Burnley are unbeaten in the Premier League since their defeat to Liverpool in game week four. The Clarets fought back to salvage points against Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion while beating Norwich City as well.
Everton have been on a downward spiral after two clean-sheets from their first two matches. Marco Silva’s men have conceded two goals in every match following the second game-week; their only league victory in that period was over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Toffees did the double over Burnley last season, including a rampant 5-1 demolition of Sean Dyche’s troops on Boxing Day. That result proved to be a significant moment for Burnley as it sparked a reversal in their abysmal form.
The game will mean something to Dyche but the significance is far greater for his managerial counterpart. Everton were touted as being ‘top-six challengers’ at the start of the season but a run of three straight defeats has put those sentiments into question. Some fans are losing patience with Silva and if this losing run continues then he may well be an early-season casualty.
Chris Wood v Michael Keane
Keane, formerly of Burnley, hasn’t had the easiest of starts to the season. The centre-back has struggled with the loss of his dependable partner Kurt Zouma. His understanding with Yerry Mina just doesn’t seem to be as strong as it was with Zouma and the defence has looked rather disjointed in recent matches. Wood will be looking to add to his three goals in the past two games.
Ashley Westwood v Fabian Delph
Delph is trying to rediscover his midfield dynamism after playing predominantly as a makeshift left-back for Manchester City. He hasn’t found it easy, though, and has gesticulated his frustration to team-mates as the team struggles to find form. Still, the summer signing has been one of Everton’s better players and it will be interesting to see how he competes with Burnley’s midfield general, Ashley Westwood, who has also started the season really well.
Ben Mee v Richarlison
Richarlison is probably Everton’s biggest attacking threat. He is physically imposing, silky on the ball and puts in a shift. Everton’s winger also likes to shift inside to get himself on the end of crosses; it is easy to see where last season’s 13 Premier League goals came from. Mee will have to be alert and keep tabs on this movement because the winger often ends up looking more like a centre-forward when the Toffees are on the attack.
Burnley could be without Jack Cork who is nursing a ‘fracture on his scapula,’ according to Dyche. The Burnley boss may be inclined to shift Jeff Hendrick into a more central position with on-loan Danny Drinkwater still struggling for fitness. Johann Berg Gudmundsson will be hoping to reclaim his spot at right-midfield but faces competition from Jay Rodriguez who scored last weekend.
Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters; Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Westwood, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.
Theo Walcott has returned to training after being forced off the pitch against Man City in the first ten minutes. Andre Gomes has also recovered from his injury to bolster Silva’s midfield options. Jean-Phillipe Gbamin remains a longer-term absentee but the former Mainz midfielder will be working hard to get fit and make his mark on Merseyside.
Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Delph, Schneiderlin; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Iwobi; Calvert-Lewin.
Both pieces of team news were taken from their respective press conferences.
For Burnley, it should be a very similar experience to what they faced with Norwich. Silva wants to play out from the back and between the lines in an attractive manner. He believes in what he does and is still trying to perfect his methods with the players that he has. Unfortunately for him, his style of play leaves the Toffees exposed at the back and, when it is not done correctly, it can cost his team dearly.
They actually played very well against City. They created a lot of chances but couldn’t take advantage and were made to pay for some hideous defending. Luck is not with them at the moment.
Still, the performance was very encouraging and there will be a little bit more room for error, you would expect, when facing the Clarets. That is no disrespect to Burnley but Pep Guardiola’s Champions are a formidable foe who will punish even the slightest error. The absence of Cork will also upset the balance on the imperious and workmanlike double-pivot of Cork and Westwood.
Dyche on Everton: “The Premier League is difficult, we all know that. Whether they’re inconsistent or not, they’ve still good players, good individuals.
“We’ve all spoken about it as managers at varying times. The demands of the game are forever higher, the demands within clubs are forever higher, it’s just the way it is.
“I’m sure he’s working diligently to try and help his side to perform like all managers do.”
Silva on Burnley: “It will be a tough game. Not just for Everton, it is tough for everyone to play there.
“Sean Dyche is doing very good work.
“They are a very physical team. They want always to challenge the opponents, normally with two strong strikers.
“It is a game we must always be switched on, from the first minute. They play a direct game, with strong second balls, and we have to answer that.
"And after, when we have the ball, to show quality and create problems for them and find the right moments to attack them.”
(via Everton’s Official Website)