Burnley vs Everton: Relegation clash takes centre stage at Turf Moor

by   |   15/12/2023  0 Comments  [Jump to last]

Saturday's Premier League programme caps off at Turf Moor with a relegation six-pointer between promoted Burnley and high-flying Everton.

Relegation scrap and high-flying sides often don't come in the same sentence. But the Toffees have displayed admirable resolve and made their own luck in a way that would make any punter – or sports fan for that matter – proud. If you had Everton’s luck and determination when it came to playing on casinos with real money, you’d end up playing for a long, long time.

Stranded in the relegation picture thanks to an unjust ten-point deduction, the Merseyside giants head into proceedings amid a dream run.

Manager Sean Dyche has inspired his team to unimaginable heights in the face of adversity, guiding Everton to three consecutive Premier League victories for the first time since March 2021.

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Unanswered second-half double from last season's saviour Abdoulaye Doucoure and up-and-coming forward Lewis Dubbin catapulted Everton to a gutsy 2-0 home win against Chelsea at the weekend.

Post-match verbal duel

Left frustrated with the Toffees' resilient approach, Mauricio Pochettino insisted the Blues were a better team, prompting a swift response from Dyche.

Hitting back at the Argentine's post-game remarks, the 52-year-old reminded his Chelsea counterpart of the Stamford Bridge outfit's extravagant summer spending.

"They are better in some ways, they kept the ball, they have very good technical players, and spent a fortune on players," the Everton boss said, as quoted by the Daily Mirror.

"He is a top manager so I wouldn't dispute his opinion, but you have to find ways of winning, and that is the biggest pleasing thing for me – we are finding different ways of winning."

Dyche now goes up against his former employers, Burnley, whose top-flight return hasn't been a pleasant experience thus far.

Taking three points away from Turf Moor, where he spent 11 years between 2011 and 2022, would go a long way in steering Everton to mid-table comforts.

However, the experienced tactician must deploy every trick from his playbook to maintain his team's morale amidst raising concerns regarding the impending takeover.

Off-field turmoil

According to Mail Sport, the Premier League's investigation into 777Partners' sustainability seems destined to continue into the new year, potentially plunging Everton into further trouble.

With reports indicating 777 has no interest in funding the club via loans beyond December, the Toffees face a potential risk of another point deduction.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri agreed a takeover deal with 777 in September and has since stopped pouring funds into the club, throwing the Merseyside outfit's immediate future in jeopardy.

As Moshiri is unwilling to cover an extra £20 million on top of their fixed income to meet operational costs, including staff wages, Everton could face administration for trading insolvent.

Such a scenario could lead to a further nine-point deduction.

What’s next?

Turf Moor has not been a happy hunting ground for Everton by any stretch of the imagination.

Since famously routing Burnley 5-1 in December 2018, the Toffees have gone winless on their last three Premier League visits to Lancashire, drawing once and losing twice.

However, each time, they had Dyche in the opposition dugout.

Dyche was the mastermind behind Burnley's tremendous effort to turn Turf Moor into a fortress.

Unfortunately for the Clarets, the Englishman's successor, Vincent Kompany, is on the verge of tarnishing his legacy.

After inspiring Burnley to a history-defining Premier League promotion last season, the Belgian manager has quickly realised how significant the gap in quality between the top flight and Championship is.

Before a 5-0 demolition of basement boys Sheffield United last time out, Kompany's side had lost their first seven home league outings via a combined score of 20-5.

Despite Kompany's delirious statement that the Clarets 'are showing plenty of promise’ following a hard-earned 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion (via BBC), his men remain among the hottest relegation candidates.

Top travellers

In addition to Burnley's home woes, Everton can draw further confidence from their imperious form outside Goodison Park.

Only four of the current top-five sides have garnered more away points than the Toffees this season, with Dyche's team racking up 13 from their first seven trips (W4, D1, L2).

After a 2-0 loss at Liverpool in October's Merseyside derby, they have gone into overdrive, tallying three successive league wins on hostile turf, each by a single-goal margin.

Dwight McNeil's second-half winner in a narrow 1-0 triumph at Nottingham Forest on their last Premier League travel is part of the reason Everton commence this round four points clear of the drop zone.

Team News

Everton will make this journey without long-term absentees Andre Gomes, Dele Alli and Seamus Coleman, while Ashley Young's match fitness is still in limbo.

The veteran full-back picked up an injury against Chelsea and could stay on the sidelines, meaning Nathan Patterson is in line to take his place in the starting XI.

On the upside, injury-prone striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fully fit and will lead the line at Turf Moor.

How could Everton line up against Burnley?

(4-4-1-1):Jordan Pickford; Nathan Patterson, James Tarkowski, Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitaliy Mykolenko; Jack Harrison, James Garner, Idrissa Gueye, Dwight McNeil; Abdoulaye Doucoure; Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

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