Burnley have lost their rhythm and will see this clash with Newcastle United as an opportunity to turn their poor form around. Three defeats in a row, including heavy losses to Manchester City and Tottenham Hostpur, have sucked the life out of a team that had previously won three matches on the spin.
Conversely, Newcastle have only lost once in their last seven matches. Steve Bruce’s men have picked up an impressive point against Man City whilst recording impressive away victories against West Ham United and Sheffield United.
Newcastle did the double over Sean Dyche’s team last season. Former manager Rafa Benitez guided the visitors to a 2-1 victory in East Lancashire before a Fabian Schaar thunderbolt helped the Toon Army to a 2-0 win at St James’ Park.
Burnley currently sit 13th in the Premier League table which is only three points ahead of Southampton who occupy 18th place. Newcastle have four points more than the Clarets and sit in 11th. A win for the visitors could propel them into the top half of the table.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson is back in training but this match will be too soon for the Icelandic international. Danny Drinkwater will be hoping to make a return to the team but that may be unlikely with Ashley Westwood close to a return. Ashley Barnes is also hoping to be fit after missing the last two matches through injury.
Allan Saint-Maximin is set to be out for up to a month with a hamstring injury, hampering Newcastle’s plans as a counter-attacking force. Ciaran Clark is also likely to be out so Federico Fernandez may step in. Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles and Florian Lejuene will all be out.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters; Hendrick, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Wood, Barnes.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Manquillo, Schaar, Fernandez, Dummett, Willems; Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu; Joelinton.
Matt Lowton vs Jetro Willems
Lowton struggled against Tottenham last weekend but it’s unlikely that Dyche will want to pair Phil Bardlsey with Erik Pieters. They both offer similar traits and it leaves the team too limited. Lowton will be pleased that speedster Saint-Maximin is likely to miss out but he will still have to contend with the threat of his replacement and the rampant Willems. The wing-back scored with a thumping drive against Man City recently.
Ashley Westwood vs Jonjo Shelvey
It is expected that Burnley’s midfield enforcer will be back and that could be key; he has been badly missed. Westwood provides an assurance in the midfield that cannot be replaced. His range of passing and composure on the ball just isn’t replicated. Likewise, Shelvey has been a real beacon of positivity for Newcastle. He has a very polarising personality but his quality is indisputable. Some key contributions over the past few matches.
Chris Wood vs Fabian Schär
Wood has been on a goal-scoring drought again and that has coincided with Burnley’s downturn in form. The New Zealand star missed a great chance against Crystal Palace but has since been restricted with his opportunities. Still, Wood will be hoping to engage in physical tussles with the Newcastle back-three and Schär will be aware of that. The central defender would also love to add to his goal tally against the Clarets after his stunner last season.
What the managers have said
Dyche on Bruce:
“I wouldn’t doubt him as a manager. Top fella both on and off the pitch. He knows his stuff and he is very humble. In my opinion one of the best around for me personally.”
Bruce on form:
“We've given ourselves a nice platform going into what I’ve said is a crucial month. We’ve given ourselves a nice start – it was a good week last week. It’s a new dawn, another week is upon us, and we’ll see how we go.”