West Brom vs Burnley preview - 'Bogey fixture for the Clarets'

Saturday 31st March

The two sides have experienced immensely contrasting fortunes since their early season meeting at Turf Moor, in which West Brom - as is usually the case against Burnley - emerged victorious.

28th Mar 2018

Burnley match preview

However, the hosts now prop up the Premier League table after a disastrous campaign. Incredibly, the Baggies have won just once since beating Burnley while the Clarets have surged towards an unlikely Europa League berth.

The Baggies’ dominant record against this weekend's visitors has led to enthusiasm that we’ll take another step towards securing that elusive seventh spot.

The positioning of the international break favoured the hosts, who are smarting from eight consecutive defeats in all competitions. Meanwhile, Sean Dyche’s travellers enter this clash with back-to-back victories to their name.

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Hawthorns problems

Burnley’s wretched run at the Hawthorns stretches back just shy of five decades, during which we’ve managed just two draws, succumbing to nine defeats in 11 attempts at the Midlands venue.

That includes successive 4-0 defeats on our last two top-flight visits, and the Clarets have actually managed just three goals in seven league matches away to West Brom since the turn of the century, conceding 18 times in the process.

Those statistics illustrate just what a bogey fixture this one has become for Burnley. But, with all that said, we’ll never have a better chance to banish our demons against a team currently in severe disarray on and off the field.

The Baggies look like certainties for relegation, with Alan Pardew’s appointment failing to have the desired effect after a short-lived initial upturn in fortunes, and ill discipline widely reported away from matchday activities.

Sturridge boost?

Daniel Sturridge’s rumoured return will provide a huge boost though. I if there is to be any hope whatsoever of a dramatic escape, these are the types of home fixtures West Brom simply have to win – time, and fixtures, are running out rapidly.

In all honesty, however, there really shouldn’t be any good reason that the Clarets can’t claim yet another three points on the road.

If those two horror shows under Dyche’s tutelage at this ground have been arguably our worst displays in his tenure, it won’t play any significance whatsoever on the mindset of a team ruthless in their approach to every match, mirroring their manager’s insistence to take each campaign one game at a time.

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On the rise

Burnley enter this bout in outstanding recent form, and face by far the division’s poorest outfit this season. That is enough to suggest we can further dent the Baggies’ faint survival hopes, and put paid to a dismal Hawthorns record.

Predicted line-up

Tom Heaton has declared himself fully fit again after coming through a fourth 90-minute reserve outing unscathed, but he’ll be eased back into action if at all possible, and will settle for a place on the bench at best here.

That means Nick Pope will continue in goal following his first international duty with England, and he’ll be screened by midweek Three Lions debutant James Tarkowski too.

Dyche’s biggest selection headache is higher up the pitch, where he needs to decide between an orthodox 4-4-2 formation to accommodate Chris Wood, so impressive from the bench on his last two appearances, or his recently preferred 4-4-1-1.

If it is to be the latter, Jeff Hendrick will be persevered with behind lone front man Ashley Barnes.

XI: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward, Cork, Westwood, Lennon, Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Barnes

Key battle

Ashley Barnes looks a match for any top-flight defender at the minute, and he’s sure to relish a chance to face the confidence-sapped Baggies backline. The experienced Jonny Evans probably represents West Brom’s finest chance of stopping the striker, who has netted in three consecutive matches to become Burnley’s all-time leading Premier League goalscorer to date. At the other end of the pitch, a returning Sturridge will prove a stern test for the freshly capped Tarkowski.

Opposition danger man

Sturridge has a touch of top-flight class that probably supersedes any player from either club, barring the absent Steven Defour. If fully tuned up after yet another injury absence, his deft touch, trickery and clever movement can cause problems aplenty for the Clarets.

Betting tips and predictions

First goalscorer flutter

I’m sticking with Barnes again. The punt has landed two of the last three times Burnley have taken to the field, and the former Brighton man is in the form of his life at the minute.

Get Barnes to score first @ 19/4

Bet with your head

Burnley prevail by their most popular scoreline of the campaign so far, and take another step towards European qualification with a narrow triumph.

Get Burnley to win 1-0 @ 13/2

Go with your gut

Much like in our last away match, a torrid home atmosphere provides the backdrop to a perfect storm of disruption at the Hawthorns. The Clarets put their hosts firmly to the sword, all but inflicting relegation on Pardew and co.

Get Burnley to win 3-0 @ 35/1

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