The FourFourTwo Preview: Burnley vs Hull
Now? Nay? Never?
- Arsenal 3-0 Burnley (Prem)
- Burnley 1-3 Everton (Prem)
- Burnley 1-3 West Ham (Prem)
- Leicester 2-2 Burnley (Prem)
- WBA 4-0 Burnley (Prem)
- Hull 0-1 So’ton (Prem)
- Liverpool 0-0 Hull (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-2 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Hull 2-4 Man City (Prem)
Hull at home. Stoke away. Villa at home. Newcastle at home. QPR away. Burnley need to start winning at some point, and the next five games look like a fine time to do so, especially as the four foes after that – taking them to the turn of the year – are Southampton, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Hull's away form is doggedly mid-table – W1 D3 L1, F6 A6 – but that's enough to keep you up, provided you don't give your home points away for free.
For comparison, in five trips Burnley have scored two goals and conceded 10 – and although they've managed two draws, that kind of road form (0.4ppg) means you need 30 points at home.
Sadly for Burnley, their home return is the same as their road haul: W0 D2 L3. So far, Turf Moor has yielded wins for Chelsea, Everton and West Ham, with goalless draws against Sunderland and Manchester United. It's twice as bad as any other home record in the division.
Number-crunchers hover over Turf Moor like vultures wielding abacuses. Burnley's four-point return from their first 10 games is worse than Derby's start to their benchmark-in-bobbins 2006/07.
It's the fifth-worst in Premier League history, better only than Swindon (1993/94), Everton (1994/95), Man City (1995/96) and Palace last season.
There are precedents for survival. The Eagles and Toffees overcame those awful starts to stay up; three of the previous nine sides to have gone winless in the opening 10 games avoided relegation; just down the M65, hated rivals Blackburn survived after an almost identical start.
But they had Chris Sutton, Tim Sherwood, Colin Hendry, Graeme Le Saux, Tim Flowers and most of the rest of a squad that had won the Premier League barely 18 months previously.
Blackburn also changed their manager in autumn, as did Crystal Palace and Everton. Only Derby in 2000/01 have had such a bad start to a Premier League season, kept faith in their gaffer (Jim Smith) and stayed up. And they won four games between mid-November and Christmas.
Which brings us, like the Clive Sullivan Way under the Humber Bridge, back to Hull. Steve Bruce could give Sean Dyche some tips on staying up: for instance, last season they hoovered up 20 points from nine home games against bottom-half teams, an average only bettered by Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs, and a further nine on the road.
Hull are hardly on roaring form themselves – one league win since the opening weekend – and whereas Burnley have been trying to become more open and attacking, usually leading to 1-0 losses becoming 3-1 losses, the Tigers have gone the other way, conceding just three goals in their last four games. Trouble is, they aren't bagging many either – it's nearly four hours since they troubled the scorers.
Nor is this game likely to attract the high-scorers market: four of the last five Clarets-Tigers league games have ended 1-0. Dyche would be perfectly happy with that: last season Burnley won 14 league games by a single goal. Three or four of those over the next month, and they might beat the odds.
Despite excitable rumour, Sam Vokes will not be back for Burnley just yet ("It'll still be a while, we're going to protect him and make sure he's alright. He will not be rushed," says Dyche). Also out is experienced summer signing Matt Taylor (Achilles surgery), but Steven Reid (groin) is available.
Hull are still set to be without Nikica Jelavic (knee), Alex Bruce (hamstring) and Michael Dawson (ankle). Goalkeeping pair Allan McGregor (shoulder) and Steve Harper (arm) are back in training, with third-choice No.1 Eldin Jakupovic on standby to continue after a nervy showing against Southampton.
Meanwhile, there's a couple of intriguing selections away from the teams: referee Mark Clattenburg returns after a little enforced break for talking to Neil Warnock – surely punishment in itself – while BBC's on-duty commentator Guy Mowbray has seen dislocated shoulders in each of the last three matches he's covered...
Player to watch: Dean Marney (Burnley)
Although Burnley eventually caved at Arsenal, goalkeeper Tom Heaton was massively happy to see Marney return alongside David Jones at Arsenal: "Deano's a massive player. Once you get the partnership of Jonesy and Deano in the middle, it's massive."
Although only 5ft 10in, the Barking-born box-to-boxer is crucial to Dyche's preferred 4-4-2. At the Emirates, the Tottenham Academy graduate epitomised the gaffer's aspiration to "ruthlessness": nobody completed more tackles (5, green Xs on the diagram) or interceptions (green diamonds).
He was also Burnley's top passer with 37 (30 completed), although only 6 (2 completed) were in the final third. That's not necessarily his key responsibility but he will hope to get further forward against Hull, for whom he made 138 appearances in the previous decade: last time he played against them, he scored...
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Burnley 0-1 Hull (Ch, Mar 13)
- Hull 0-1 Burnley (Ch, Nov 12)
- Burnley 1-0 Hull (Ch, Dec 11)
- Hull 2-3 Burnley (Ch, Nov 11)
- Hull 0-1 Burnley (Ch, Mar 11)
Centre-backs ahoy! Two of the five current Premier League managers to have scored in an FA Cup semi-final (along with Pardew, Hughes and Poyet) clash for the third time: two seasons ago each won 1-0 at the other's ground. Hull's Turf Moor win on Monday March 11 not only ended a run of seven straight Burnley wins in the fixture, it also hoisted the Tigers into a second place they would keep right through to the end of the season... bar a few nervy minutes on that last day at home to Cardiff while Watford played Leeds.
Facts and figures
- Burnley have scored with a lower proportion of their shots than any other team in the league (6%).
- Burnley are the 10th side to fail to win any of their opening 10 Premier League matches of a single season. 3 of the previous 9 have survived.
- A defeat in this game will see Burnley match the record of rivals Blackburn in 1996/97 season (W0 D4 L7). Rovers managed to avoid relegation that campaign.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
At last: One-nil to the Burn-er-lee.