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PREVIEW: Burnley v Watford

Clarets open home Premier League campaign with visit

19 August 2018

No-one has played more in the Premier League so far this season than the Clarets.

Apart from the Community Shield finalists – Manchester City and Chelsea – everyone else has played only their opening league fixture a week ago.

The Clarets, on the other hand, are already five games in due to their run in the Europa League.

Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Istanbul Basaksehir – which has set up a two-legged play-off against Olympiakos – is followed by the opening home league game against Watford – making it six games in the space of 25 days.

Boss Sean Dyche dipped into his squad strength to overcome the Turkish opposition – making five changes from the first leg and six from last Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Southampton in the Premier League.

For a second successive round, Burnley needed extra-time to progress.

But whichever side Dyche sends out to face Watford on Sunday (KO 1.30pm), he has no concerns about fatigue or lack of recovery time.

“We are always high on the fitness side. You could see the players on Thursday night,” said the Burnley boss.

“The mental motivation is already there and has been for a long time, and the group demand is there.

“They’re all the things that count. The rest of it outside the camp is all noise.

“It’s about your own team’s focus to drive forward, no matter what’s put in front of you. And I think we’re good at that.

“I will be going into Sunday believing these players will go again.

“They will run hard, play hard and do what they need to do to a win a game.

“The fitness here is unbelievable. The players’ mental and physical fitness is absolutely fantastic, so they will be ready for Sunday.”

Watford started their season with an impressive 2-0 home win over Brighton thanks to two goals from attacking midfielder Roberto Pereyra (above).

The Argentina international has scored five of the last seven league goals Watford have scored but the visitors’ attack is likely to be led by Troy Deeney and Andre Gray – both of have previously played under Dyche at Vicarage Road and Turf Moor.

“They are two very good players, players I know well, and they had a very good afternoon,” added the former Watford boss

“They are another side, like ourselves and a few others, that are looking to develop season-on-season and try affect games in a different manner each season to make sure they secure what they want to.”

Team news

Burnley boss Sean Dyche is likely to make changes following Thursday night’s Europa League win over Istanbul Basaksehir and with a trip to Greece to come next week.

New signing Matej Vydra is unlikely to figure against his former club with another Development Squad outing pencilled in for next week.

Robbie Brady is close to a return to training but Steven Defour remains out of contention.

Watford will be without midfielders Tom Cleverely and Nathaniel Chalobah, forward Stefano Okaka and summer signing Gerad Deulofeu through injury.

The Hornets made seven new signings over the summer but started with just one against Everton – goalkeeper Ben Foster.

What they’re saying

Watford manager Javi Garcia: “They have a very good squad and I’m sure they won’t have any problem playing three games this week.

"On Thursday I think they changed the team so I’m sure they will play at the same level as in other games.

“If you ask me whether I prefer to play three games or two in this period, I’d prefer to play two. But I’m sure they will keep this level and it’ll be a very tough game for us.”

Match stats

Burnley have won three of their last four matches against Watford and completed a league double last season.

Watford have won just once in eight games against Burnley, a 2-0 home win in February 2017.

The Hornets have not won at Turf Moor since a 3-2 Championship victory in April, 2004.

Watford have lost 11 and drawn one of their last 12 away games in the Premier League and have not scored in their last eight away league games.

Their last goal away from home in the league was an Andre Gray effort at Manchester City in January.


Paul Tierney


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