PL PREVIEW: Burnley v Fulham
Clarets kick off home double-header in search of more Turf Moor joy
The Clarets bring to an end a busy run of mid-week fixtures with another big night at Turf Moor.
After five successive mid-week dates Burnley sign-off against Fulham in a fixture re-arranged from a New Year postponement due to an outbreak of Covid in the Cottagers’ camp.
The sides would have gone into the original date in 16th and 18th places, respectively, and nothing has changed in that regard.
However, the Clarets have increased their advantage over Fulham from five points at the end of the year to eight points going into Wednesday evening’s game.
A victory over the Londoners ahead of another home game against bottom-three opposition in West Bromwich Albion on Saturday would therefore put Sean Dyche’s men in a very healthy position in their quest to secure Premier League status.
Three points would also lift the Clarets above Crystal Palace into 14th place in the table and behind Southampton on goal difference – unless the goals really flow.
But Dyche insists there is no greater emphasis on facing a Fulham side fighting for their lives as his team looks to extend a productive run that has brought them 10 points from their last six games.
“We’ll have to see if it works out like that. But my feelings on not targeting games is that I can’t talk about the need for consistency and then only apply it to certain games,” said the Burnley boss, whose side knocked Fulham out of the FA Cup last month.
“My way of looking at is that we should be up for every game. We should be well-organised and ready to deliver every time.
“If that mindset is right over the course of a season, then you’re ready to take on any team.
“On the training ground I stress the need for those things every time, so I don’t think I can then talk about the need to target certain opponents.
“I want to see them perform at a high level all the time.”
The Clarets will be without captain Ben Mee, who must sit out a six-day spell in line with concussion protocols.
Chris Wood and Dale Stephens are doubts, while Erik Pieters and Matej Vydra face fitness checks.
However, Charlie Taylor is set to return to the squad after missing seven games with a hamstring injury.
Fulham will be without striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is self-isolating following a positive Covid test.
Former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Tom Cairney is also out, along with defender Terence Kongolo.
The Clarets are unbeaten in their last two league games and are looking for successive league wins for the second time this season following Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace.
Burnley have lost just two of their last eight league games at Turf Moor and would move level on points with 13th-placed Southampton with a fifth home success.
Fulham are unbeaten in their last five away league games, with their last defeat on the road coming at Manchester City at the start of December.
Four of those games have ended in draws before the Londoners ended the run with a 2-0 win at Everton last Sunday – their first ever league win at Goodison Park.
The victory at Everton was Fulham’s first league win in 13 games since a 2-1 success at Leicester City at the end of November.
However, Scott Parker’s side has lost just four times in that run and a third away win of the season would put them just four points behind 17th-placed Newcastle as they look to avoid relegation.
Fulham manager Scott Parker: “It’s a really tough game. We understand that. What Sean’s done there over a period of time has been remarkable.
“We understand the problems that Burnley are going to cause us, and we need to be prepared for it.
“We now have a massive week of games ahead of us. We go to Burnley on Wednesday, Sheffield United at the weekend and then Crystal Palace.
“Like I keep saying, we know what we need to do. We need to win football matches, and we’re at that point where we’re going into another big week and there’s a big 16 games ahead of us.”
The Clarets are unbeaten in 30 home games against Fulham, winning 25 times and drawing five in the club’s longest undefeated run against a single opponent.
Fulham’s last win at Turf Moor was in April, 1951.
Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez needs one more goal to reach 100 league goals in his career.
He has scored four times in his last three starts against Fulham and scored his first goal for Burnley against the Cottagers in a 2008 League Cup tie.
Clarets defender Matt Lowton is set to make his 300th start in first-team football.
If they avoid defeat, Fulham would equal their top-flight club record of six successive away fixtures without losing.
Wed, Mar 3, 2021