Two founder members of the Football League meet at the Hawthorns on Saturday for the 128th time in the league, although just the sixth time in the Premier League. The Baggies are unbeaten against Burnley in the Premier League, but it is the Clarets who are leading the way as the “best of the rest” this season.
Having failed to secure their first league double of the season last week at Bournemouth, Albion have their final opportunity this weekend having secured their only away league win of the season at Turf Moor back in August.
Burnley, however, have had a wonderful season although they did endure a run of 11 games without a win from late December. That didn’t alter their league position, however, as they stayed in seventh place, and they ended that run at the beginning of this month with a home win over Everton, following up with that dramatic win at the London Stadium before the international break.
Unlike their two previous Premier League seasons, Sean Dyche’s men have learned to play away from home and have the sixth best Premier League record on the road with 21 points from their 15 games away from Turf Moor to date. That makes Albion’s task all the more challenging.
The international break saw a number of Baggies players in action, with Matt Phillips standing out having scored the only goal in their win over Hungary in Budapest whilst playing as a striker. That could give the Albion winger some confidence and, being the ultimate confidence player, that can only be a good thing for the Baggies.
Nacer Chadli and Daniel Sturridge are nearing fitness but won’t be ready in time for Saturday, while Sam Field and Gareth Barry are also ruled out. That leaves Pardew little room for manoeuvre in terms of his starting line up, although he may have learned something about Ali Gabr having travelled to Switzerland to see him in action for Egypt in their 1-0 defeat to Greece.
The biggest news of the last fortnight as far as West Bromwich Albion is concerned were the statements by Mark Jenkins on the state of the club’s finances. That a surplus of more than £40m has turned into a situation in which an overdraft will be needed before the end of the season is certainly a concern, and perhaps sheds more light on the reasons why Williams and Goodman were sacked last month.
Jenkins said all the right things to suggest that the club is in good hands as it turns its focus towards the battle for promotion next season, but then only time will tell.
The two clubs first met at Albion’s Stoney Lane ground in September 1988 with the hosts winning by the odd goal in seven. It was the start of things to come in the early days of this fixture as there were no less than 57 goals in the first 11 meetings, including 5-1, 6-1 and 7-1 home wins for the Baggies.
However, Albion’s record win over Burnley was some time later when Astle, Hope and Clark all scored twice, with Colquhoun and Brown also finding the net in an 8-1 win in 1967. The Clarets record win at the Hawthorns is 4-1, which they achieved in 1925 when George James scored for the hosts, while the visitors’ goals were scored by George Beel, Jimmy Tonner, Tommy Roberts and Benny Cross.
Burnley’s last two visits to the Hawthorns have ended in 4-0 defeats. Last season, Albion were in the midst of their mid-season purple patch when Sean Dyche’s team visited with goals from Matt Phillips, James Morrison, Darren Fletcher and Salomón Rondón responsible for the thumping. Both clubs had come into the match having not had more possession than their opponents in any league match so far, and it was the Clarets who won the possession battle with the Baggies taking the points – Dyche famously attributed the defeat to his players as being “drunk on possession”.
The previous Hawthorns encounter was in the days of Alan Irvine in September 2014. On that occasion, Craig Dawson opened the scoring, with Saido Berahino adding a brace before Graham Dorrans rounded the victory off with a last minute strike.
It’s been almost half a century since Burnley last tasted victory at the Hawthorns when Steve Kindon scored the only goal of the game in a Division One fixture in December 1969. Burnley earned a 2-2 draw in a fourth round FA Cup tie at the Hawthorns in 2009, and went on to win the replay at Turf Moor, but they haven’t earned a league point at the highest ground in England since November 2000 when Jason Roberts’ 87th minute equaliser cancelled out an opener from Graham Branch.
Could this be a fourth league win of the season for the Baggies? Perhaps not, but maybe a draw will bring an end to the run of successive defeats.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
19 Aug 2017 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Robson-Kanu)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
21 Nov 2016 – Premier League
West Brom 4 (Phillips, Morrison, Fletcher, Rondón)
Albion’s Record against Burnley
|Premier League Record|