Saturday 20 May
Updated Saturday 20 May 12:00
Opinion

Five Talking Points - Burnley

The major discussion points as West Ham United travel to Burnley for their final Premier League fixture of the 2016/17 season...
 

 

1. The £9.5million question

Realistically, West Ham United go into their final Premier League fixture of the season knowing they could still finish anywhere between eleventh and 16th in the table.

While the Hammers’ final position may seem irrelevant, financially it most certainly is.

With Premier League prize money dropping by £1.9m per place, put starkly, a valuable victory at Burnley could be worth £9.5m more than a costly defeat.

Should West Ham win comfortably and Leicester City lose at home to AFC Bournemouth, or the Foxes score a heavy victory over the Cherries, the Hammers will finish eleventh and earn £19m in prize money.

Any sort of win for Slaven Bilic’s side will secure 12th and £17.1m, but a draw opens up the chance for Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Watford to all leapfrog the Hammers. A defeat would not only leave that door open, but would also see Burnley rise above the east Londoners.

 

2. Tough Moor

 

Turf Moor

 

Fewer Premier League grounds have been more difficult to take points away from this season than Burnley’s Turf Moor.

Sean Dyche’s Clarets have been a tough nut to crack on home turf and it is no exaggeration to say that their form in Lancashire has kept them in the top flight.

Burnley have collected 33 of their 40 points at Turf Moor – the highest tally of any side outside the top seven bar reigning champions Leicester City and two more than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.

 

3. Give youth a chance?

Declan RiceAs is almost always the case at this time of the season, fans of clubs up and down the country are clamouring for their own home-grown youngsters to be given a chance to play.

However, it is not quite that simple.

Not does prize money come into the equation, but so do Premier League and Football League rules.

They state that any player who has been loaned out to a Football League club for the whole or second half of the season cannot play first-team football for their parent club while they are still, strictly speaking, on loan.

So, while the travelling Claret and Blue Army might sing for an opportunity to see the likes of Toni Martinez and Martin Samuelsen in action at Turf Moor, unfortunately it will simply not be possible.

However Declan Rice (pictured), who captained the U23s to promotion in midweek, could appear against Burnley.

 

4. Familiar foes

James CollinsNo introductions will be needed at either end of the pitch on Sunday.

West Ham United centre forward Ashley Fletcher knows all about Burnley centre-half Michael Keane, having followed the England international through the ranks at Manchester United.

Both have had to follow their paths to the top of the game away from Old Trafford, but the young striker is fully aware of how highly-rated Keane was during his formative years with the Red Devils, where he found his opportunities limited by the presence of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Jonny Evans.

Meanwhile, Hammers defender James Collins will be an expert on the capabilities of Clarets forward Sam Vokes, with whom he has shared a Wales dressing room for the past nine years.

Collins has been in imperious form in recent weeks, while Vokes has found the net four times in as many Premier League matches.

 

5. Angelo’s back

With Winston Reid ruled out after undergoing knee surgery in midweek, the stage is set for Angelo Ogbonna to make his return to first team action.

The Italy international was back on the bench for the home defeat by Liverpool, but he could be handed a starting place in Slaven Bilic’s preferred three-man defence.

Ogbonna has not featured since the 3-1 Premier League win at Middlesbrough on 21 January, after which he too underwent knee surgery to rectify a long-standing problem.

Should the 28-year-old be considered only fit enough for the bench, outstanding U23 captain Declan Rice could be handed his first-team debut.