We have teamed up with WhoScored.com to preview Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Burnley
West Ham UnitedWest Ham United have teamed up with football stats website WhoScored.com to preview Saturday’s Barclays Premier League meeting with Burnley.
The Clarets are on a dire run of form, having failed to net in their last five Premier League games, which is currently the longest goalless run of all teams in Europe’s top five leagues. No team has netted fewer goals in the Premier League this season than Burnley (26) and their recent form – coupled with the performances of teams around them – has seen them drop to the foot of the table.
A visit to a West Ham side that has shipped just 16 league goals in 17 home games this campaign is not what Burnley need right now, given their profligacy in front of goal at present. Sean Dyche’s side have gained a statistically calculated WhoScored.com weakness of ‘finishing scoring chances’.
The Clarets attack is expected to struggle against the resolute Hammers defence on Saturday, with young Reece Burke set to play a key role once more. The 18-year-old made his first his Premier League start of his career at Loftus Road last week, with Sam Allardyce on Thursday confirming the centre-back will feature from the off against Burnley this weekend, too.
Burke was instrumental in the 0-0 draw with London rivals QPR, with his WhoScored.com rating (8.59) bettered only by penalty-saving hero Adrián (9.20). The teenager’s performance earned him a place in WhoScored.com’s latest Premier League Team of the Week.
Teenager Burke made a joint team-high 20 clearances - as did James Collins - along with four tackles and four interceptions, as well as winning three aerial battles.
Considering six of the seven clean sheets West Ham have kept in the Premier League this season have come at home, chances are good they will add to this total with the welcome of Burnley. The Clarets could drop back down into the Championship and defeat in east London will not help their survival chances.
West Ham need to remain focused to ensure Burnley fail to net at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday. With Burke turning out a performance way beyond his tender years on his debut last week, there is a possibility that Burnley will draw a blank when they travel to the capital this weekend.
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BurnleyThe possible starting XI
Trippier Duff Shackell Mee
Boyd Jones Arfield Barnes
Trippier Duff Shackell Mee
Boyd Jones Arfield Barnes
Burnley manager Sean Dyche has opted for a forward-thinking 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation in 33 of the Clarets’ 34 Barclays Premier League matches, so is unlikely to change things up too much against West Ham United.
With his team in desperate need of a win, Dyche will likely pair promising English striker Danny Ings with Sam Vokes, should the Wales international be fit to return from a thigh injury. Vokes is a big, strong target man, while Ings is shorter and sharper in and around the penalty area.
A flat back four will feature two tall, dominating centre-backs, with the full-back positions filled by attack-minded Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee.
The midfield is also likely to be a flat four, with all-rounders David Jones and Scott Arfield in the centre, the skilful George Boyd on one flank and either former Hammer Matt Taylor or Ashley Barnes – available again after suspension – on the other.
The playing style
Like their manager, Burnley have the personality of a team that likes to play on the front foot if at all possible.
While winning matches, ball retention, defending set pieces and keeping the ball out of their own net have been issues that have cost the Clarets dear on many occasions, Burnley are still a dangerous outfit on their day.
When they do go forward, Burnley adopt a balanced approach, favouring their strong right flank patrolled by Trippier and Boyd if anything.
When it comes to shooting, which Burnley love to do from long range (42% of their shots are unleashed from outside the box), the visitors do so from central areas three-quarters of the time.
Amazingly for a team that went into the weekend bottom of the table, Burnley spend more time in the attacking third (30%) than they do defending in their own third of the pitch (26%). However, it is turning those positions into goals that has been one of their weaknesses, scoring just 26 times in their opening 34 league matches.
Unlike fellow Barclays Premier League new boys, Burnley took a prudent approach to their return to the top flight.
With a small squad, Dyche has three ever-present players in goalkeeper Tom Heaton, right-back Trippier and captain Shackell, while midfield generals Arfield and Jones have both started 32 times, and Boyd and Ings on 31 occasions.
Despite naming such a settled side, Burnley have struggled for any sort of consistency, winning just five league matches so far – and arguably needing to win three out of their last four to stay up.
Goals-wise, Burnley have again relied on Ings, who has scored nine to go alongside his team-high four assists, while Barnes and Boyd have bagged five apiece.
It is perhaps telling that Burnley’s most-influential players all line up in defensive areas. Trippier has played more passes (1,507), made more crosses (303 to second-placed Boyd’s 67) and the second-highest number of interceptions (74 to Jones’ 79).
Centre-back Shackell has made more than twice as many clearances (384) as any other Burnley player, and 35 more than any other Premier League player, while left-back Mee has made a team-high 85 interceptions.
In goal, Heaton’s 111 saves are only bettered by three goalkeepers, including opposite number Adrian (116).
The only defensive anomaly is that Boyd, a wide midfielder, has made 44 more tackles than any other Burnley player, with 108 in total.