The Clarets travel to Craven Cottage on Sunday and after an awful week, will be desperate to get something out of the game against big spenders Fulham.
Following last weekend’s home defeat to Watford, ten man Burnley were beaten in Athens 3-1 by Olympiacos, with new boy Ben Gibson seeing red after a second very soft booking. Earlier in the week, the town of Burnley had been rocked by news of the death of club legend Jimmy McIlroy, so a morale boosting performance at Fulham would be a much appreciated fillip for Clarets supporters.
Manager Sean Dyche appeared to have one eye on Sunday’s fixture, making six changes in the Europa League game and withdrawing key players Wood and Gudmondsson in the latter stages. Much will be made of the Clarets’ travel weariness by pundits, but thus far Dyche has denied that fatigue is an issue for his players. However, the fact remains that Burnley are still without a league win following long trips to Aberdeen, Istanbul and Athens – and in the latter fixture they played for half an hour with just ten men. On the upside, the tie is still just about alive and Chris Wood’s away goal may yet prove critical.
However, Sunday’s opponents will also be desperate to get a result having lost their opening two games to Crystal Palace and Spurs. There will be high expectations at Fulham given their £100million summer spend – and so far, their expensively assembled team has failed to deliver. As a club they’re taking a very contrasting approach to Burnley – spending vast sums, whilst the Clarets have built steadily and incrementally in a way that has emphasised sustainability, focussing on the long term stability of the club.
With both teams eager to take something from the fixture, I expect a game of relatively few chances and that it will be a fairly attritional affair, with Burnley happy to concede possession to Fulham and hit them on the break. With that in mind, I’m going for a 1-1 draw and I expect Burnley to line up like they did against Watford, but with captain Tom Heaton returning to the side.
Expected line up: Heaton, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward, Gudmondsson, Westwood, Cork, Lennon, Hendrick, Wood.