Opposition Focus: Burnley

Turf Moor, Saturday 12th January @ 3pm


05/01/18 – Burnley 1-0 Barnsley (FA Cup)

02/01/19 – Huddersfield 1-2 Burnley 

30/12/18 – Burnley 2-0 West Ham

26/12/18 – Burnley 1-5 Everton

22/12/18 – Arsenal 3-1 Burnley 


Burnley have been using a 4-4-2 formation in their last couple matches, which included two huge victories over Huddersfield and West Ham. They now have the solid forward pairing of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes playing completely in-sync. Pair that up with the teenage sensation of left midfielder Dwight McNeil, then Sean Dyche has found quite the recipe for success. Defensively may be where the team is struggling, but from a personnel standpoint, centre-backs James Tarkowski and Ben Mee are the marker of consistency, having played together the majority of this season. Burnley attack right through the middle the majority of the time with Jack Cork alongside a sharp Ashley Westwood, as they feed off the two forwards who hold up and pass the ball quickly to feet, back to the midfielders or out wide, but a cross is sent in from the wingers right away. The forwards stagger against the opponent’s centre-backs so they can pick up the scraps for second chances. Defensively, it’s a medium pressure throughout the pitch, keeping the 4-4-2 formation’s shape as diligent as possible. 

Battle to Watch

Ryan Sessegnon vs Dwight McNeil: This may or may not happen, but if both of them start, I hope to see it. Both left-footed, both on an absolute height of confidence right now. McNeil reminds me of a left-footed Clint Dempsey, takes on players, not afraid to take shots from distance, passes and moves quickly with high tenacity. While Sess may start and be placed on the left-hand side, this could be a battle of the youngsters displaying why they are on the grand stage and will make for an exciting interaction.     

Danger Man

Even though he has played on his own most of the season, Ashley Barnes benefits best when he has playing partners around him. Now that Chris Wood is within arm’s length away, Barnes is finding more time on the ball and able to hold up and finish attacking sequences properly. He also has a goal and assist in the last two matches, so confidence again will be rising higher. He came in late against us way back in August and made little impact. Barnes will surely be looking to continue his red hot form, what better to do so against a team that has a terrible track record at Turf Moor?

Last 5 Meetings

26/08/18 – Fulham 4-2 Fulham (PL)

03/11/15 – Burnley 3-1 Fulham (C’ship)

08/03/16 – Fulham 2-3 Burnley (C’ship)

09/02/10 – Fulham 3-0 Burnley (PL)

12/12/09 – Burnley 1-1 Fulham (PL)


Fulham wins 31

Draws 19

Burnley wins 45

Stats & Facts

  • Fulham have won 2 of the last 9 meetings with Burnley in all competitions, the 4-2 home success in August and a 3-0 Premier League victory at Craven Cottage in February 2010.
  • However, the Whites have failed to win any of their last 29 trips to Turf Moor in all competitions – losing 24 in the process – since a 2-0 Division One victory in April 1951 when Bob Thomas netted twice.
  • Fulham have kept just one clean sheet in the last 11 meetings with Burnley in all competitions. Mark Schwarzer and a back four of Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes, Brede Hangeland and Nicky Shorey kept the Clarets out in the 3-0 Premier League win at Craven Cottage in February 2010.
  • In the past 20 years, Fulham have played Burnley in the Premier League, Championship, League One (then Division Two), League Cup and FA Cup. During this period, the Premier League is the only competition in which the Clarets have failed to win a game.

Players in Common

Chris Baird, Kevin Ball, Andy Cole, Mike Conroy, Mark Crossley, Jon Harley, Jimmy Hogan, Alexander Kacaniklic, Gabor Kiraly, Kevin McDonald, Peter Mellor, Gerry Peyton.

Magic Moment

Let’s be honest, we haven’t won up there since 1951. So I think it’s safe to make assumptions that we’ve been running pretty low on magic for this one! Fingers crossed that the class of 1950/51 can inspire our boys onto victory, ending the Turf Moor curse. It’s a season-defining game so let’s hope for some magic from somewhere!

Opposition View (@TurfCastPodcast)

Did you overachieve to finish 7th last season and is your current position a better reflection of the squad you have?

I think it’s fair to say we overachieved but I’d also like to point out we deserved it. We were fantastic in the first half the season – admittedly we faded a little in the second half but still managed to dig results out when needed to keep our grips on that Europa League place. I wouldn’t say our current position is a fair reflection, I think we’re underachieving this season if I’m honest. We’re better than our current league position would suggest.

Did Europa League football so early in the season hinder your league form? If so, are you disappointed that the club didn’t bolster the squad to cope with the extra demands?

Definitely. Our squad isn’t the deepest and we were struggling with playing Thursday and Sunday while travelling across Europe, the squad was definitely showing signs of fatigue. Because of that, the season got off to a poor start and all of a sudden we had just one point from our first five games. You can’t really be blaming fatigue when you’re in November from the Europa League games played in July & August, but because it caused our poor start the players were incredibly low on confidence and they struggled to get out of that mindset, until picking up a couple of results recently. In terms of the transfers yes I think I speak for the entire fan base when I say I was disappointed with the business this summer. The club has never been in a better position financially and its stock on the pitch was the highest since the ’60s but we still couldn’t manage to bring any big names in, and the main outfield players we did bring in have been warming the bench all season.

Fulham’s record at Turf Moor is horrendous, our last win was in 1951. 29 matches have been played there since! Were you aware of this & do Burnley have any bogey grounds?

I wasn’t aware of this to be fair! For us there are the obvious ones such as Old Trafford, where we haven’t won since 1962, Anfield is a ground where we haven’t won since 1974, but you kind of expect these records at these kinds of grounds. The thing is we used to have a few bogey grounds, but in recent years in our emergence under Sean Dyche, we’ve put quite a few of those to bed, although I’m sure a Burnley fan might get in touch and prove me wrong but not many spring to mind! 

What is the general opinion of Sean Dyche from Burnley fans & is his job under any pressure?

The feeling amongst the majority is that he’s the best man for the job. You just have to look at what we have achieved under him to realise that. We were 14th in the Championship at the time he came in to replace Eddie Howe. Since then we’ve been promoted to the Premier League twice, winning the Championship on one occasion, actually stayed up for a change, got into Europe, and now in our third consecutive season in the league as an established Premier League club. All of this was inconceivable in the past, now it’s a reality. There were a few murmurs of replacing him amongst fans, mainly the idiots, but nothing serious. I mean who would we get in to replace him? Big Sam? Mark Hughes? No thanks. 

How many players are you hoping to sign in January & which area needs strengthening the most?

2-3 ideally but after the summer we had I won’t be holding my breath. For some reason, even though we’re getting stronger, bigger, and more and more established as a club – we still seem to struggle in the transfer market, which is more than likely due to the wage structure we have in place. In a perfect world we would bring in a decent winger – we have some good wide players in Gudmundsson, Brady, McNeil & Lennon – but Lennon is hit & miss, McNeil is too young to play every week and the other two seem to struggle with knocks quite regularly. Also should be an aim of ours to being in for a nippy striker, all of ours are much of the same – big tall lads who are decent target men and don’t mind throwing themselves about a bit, except Vydra who doesn’t seem to get a look in. 

Hand on heart, which 3 clubs do you think are going down this season?

Obviously, it’s difficult to predict at this stage of the season as you never know what’s going to happen in the transfer window. You boys could end up spending another £100m for example and unearthing a gem who bangs 20 goals in and keeps you up. But if I’m being pressed I think Burnley will be OK, although I wouldn’t have said that after our Boxing Day result! I think Huddersfield are gone, we effectively killed them with our last result, I think Cardiff will go too, some of their results at home have been decent but fortunate and that won’t continue, and then after that, if squads stay the same, I’d have to say, you guys. But there are a few teams who could occupy that final spot – Southampton are a strange side and looking at their strike force they shouldn’t really be there but they can’t seem to pull themselves out of it, I think Newcastle are average at best and they’ll be one of the sides looking over their shoulders, and when the pressure is on at St James’ Park they tend to crack. I thought Brighton would get dragged into it, they were poor at the Turf but they do seem to keep digging out results from somewhere! 

How do you see the game panning out?

Thankfully we’ve hit a bit of form recently and managed to control games and keep them tight like we did last season. If the game opens up I think it plays into your hands, but going off the last few games I’m confident we can control the game again as we did against a decent West Ham side in the last league game at home. The signs are there that we have turned a corner and can start pulling away. 

Score prediction – 2-0 to the Clarets

Predicted line-up – Heaton, Taylor, Tarkowski, Mee, Lowton, Gudmundsson, Cork, Westwood, McNeil, Wood, Barnes.

Thanks to the TurfCast Podcast for answering our questions.

Match Prediction

It’s time to move on. On from the FA Cup embarrassment, on from good performance but poor result against Arsenal. What is that famous speech in Any Given Sunday? It goes “…either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals.” I can believe that on a weekly basis the compilation of Fulham is measured by individual performances. Each week, this player, or that player, is slated. Even our captain, Tom Cairney, constantly in question. Enough of that. It’s time to move on and heal – and it must start against Burnley. There needs to be a significant uprising of cohesion and confidence from the players and a sense of having a common goal of protecting our box and scoring at will against Burnley’s. 

Turf Moor is ready to eat us up alive, and considering how the hosts have been playing, it could happen. I believe it will not and Ranieri will determine what needs to be done to come out with all 3 points. Based on the last couple of matches, it looks like he has given confidence to Cisse, and will place him in the centre of the park with our captain, Cairney, while dropping Chambers to be a reliable anchor in the defence, along with Tim Ream. Christie will make way for Denis Odoi, who scored his first goal as a Premier League player in the FA Cup loss to Oldham. Our wingers will consist of Schurrle and Sessegnon, and the reason for that is simply because both have scored goals this season, while able to combine with each other and forward Mitrovic. It will be important that both Sess and Schurrle are available to launch the counters to Mitro and break down Burnley right through the middle when they try to do the same. 

This will be a battle of the counter attacks and very fast paced action. Burnley will pressure Mitro on his own, but his ability to hold up the ball to find Cairney, Schurrle or Sessegnon, will be enough for us to break Burnley down. Communication between Tarkowski and Mee was not the best against Huddersfield last time, so the more we send in crosses via Bryan, Schurrle and Odoi, the better. It will be important that we also pepper the Burnley goal with as many shots as possible, and test their keeper, something we failed to do against Oldham and Arsenal. 

Like I said though, it’s time to move on – and we’ll be moving out of Turf Moor with all 3 points; a convincing 3-0 victory with goals coming from Mitrovic, Schurrle and Cairney (finally). COYW!!!

Predicted Line-up