Fans in Focus: Burnley v Tottenham

The Clarets return to Turf Moor this weekend for the first time in nearly two months, welcoming second placed Tottenham Hotspur to ‘Fortress Turf’.

A return to home comforts offers Burnley the chance to effectively secure their Premier League status, as a win tied in with other results going their way, will give us an almost insurmountable lead over the bottom three.

However, the task at hand will more than likely be a stern one. Spurs travel to East Lancashire brimming with confidence after three successive wins and still yet to lose to a team in the bottom half of the table.

Before Saturday’s crunch clash, I caught up with fans of both teams, to gauge their views of how they see the game unfolding…

Burnley Fan – Peter Davis (@peter_css_sales)

It’s been nearly two months since we were last at Turf Moor, so is there a slight worry that we may not pick up where we left off after so long away?

The wait is over! 1st April – the day of wind-ups, pranks and practical jokes. What is no joke is that we’re finally back at the Turf for a home game. 7 long weeks have passed since our last league home game versus Chelsea – a week less if you count the FA Cup game against Lincoln (which after 6 weeks I’ve started to painfully erase those tedious 90 minutes from my memory). I think after such as run of away games, Sean and the squad will be ready to enter the field in front of a sell-out home crowd. I can’t see it taking long to settle ‘back home’. We’ve had a mixed bag of results since our draw against the champions-elect at Turf Moor – with two draws and two defeats coming in our four league games since then. However, perhaps the most important factor is that we’ve not allowed the teams below us to make up too much ground on us. We’ve managed to maintain an eight-point cushion between us and the bottom three. Much has been made about our away form, but I’d much rather us be where we are at the moment than sacrifice safety for three points on the road. Can home form keep you up? It’s looking ever increasingly possible…

With Steven Defour’s return to the squad against Sunderland, who would you start in Centre Midfield?

I’d be tempted to stick with Barton and Hendrick in centre midfield. As highly as I rate Defour, I do think he may be being wrapped up in cotton wool for use in a potentially tough run in. Now seemingly ‘back fit’ and involved in the matchday squads, I would like to see him feature even if just 30 minutes or so from the bench. His return to the field in any capacity would undoubtedly lift the crowd. A big plus for us overall is that we’ve got through the spring international break unscathed.

How much of a boost for the Clarets is it that Harry Kane looks set to miss out?

It’s a huge boost that Harry Kane remains on the sidelines with an ankle ligament injury – although with either Heung Min Son or Vincent Janssen to come in to the side, likely to be supported by Dele Alli in the ‘number 10 role’, they’re still an attacking force to be feared. On the road, Spurs have been relatively organised against the teams in the middle-to-lower reaches of the table – only losing on the road this season to Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly though, out of their 13 away games so far this campaign, they have only won 4, drawing 6 – so we could look at this being more of a chance of picking up points that we may have initially anticipated. Overall though in my opinion, Chelsea aside, Spurs look like one of the most complete, free-flowing, organised sides in the division – and in Pochettino have a very astute manager who will only get better.

Do you think a win on Saturday would all but secure safety?

Absolutely, it gets us very close indeed. I do think 36-37 points will do it, 38 almost a guarantee that we stay up. With Boro and Palace still to play away from home, fixtures against teams with little but pride to play for such as Stoke, West Ham, Bournemouth and West Brom, a point or two ‘here and there’ will go a long way to survival.

What are your thoughts on how the game will unfold on Saturday and your prediction?

If I was to be offered a draw now, I’d snap your hand off. Having touched upon Spurs’ perhaps uncertain away form, maybe – just maybe – there’s a chance we can show them, and countless pundits, just why our sparkling home form CAN keep us up!

 

Tottenham Fan Page – Spurs Report (@spurs_report) Be sure to check out their website! thespursreport.wordpress.com

Given Burnley’s great home form, how stern of a test are you expecting on Saturday?
This will be a tough one. Not only are Burnley very good at home, Spurs have been quite average on the road with just four wins and six draws. If our away form had been even a bit better, Chelsea may not be cruising to the title with such comfort. Sean Dyche seems to have channeled some of the better parts of Tony Pulis — the ability to make home matches tough for opponents, good organisation and a carefully cultivated inferiority complex that gets Burnley right up for big matches. No Spurs fan is taking this one easy.
How big of a loss is Harry Kane and do you think his replacement will make the necessary step up?
The loss of Kane is a huge blow for Spurs, of all the players in our squad he’s the one we simply can’t replace. Not only is Kane missing, second choice striker Son Heung-min was playing for South Korea in Seoul on Tuesday night, so may not be fresh. Vincent Janssen, who has been disappointing, has been struck down with flu throughout the international break so is also struggling, not that he’s had much of a chance to impress over the past three months. Replacing Kane is a tough task for Spurs generally as, without question, he is the paramount striker at the club, and anyone who joins knows they are going to be number two, at best. But Tottenham’s loss is Burnley’s gain.
How important is three points on Saturday to cement your place in the top four?
With 10 games to go, every game is massive. One slip, and it gives the like of Arsenal and Man Utd the chance to get Spurs back in their sights. But there will inevitably be some dropped points over the period, and a point away at Turf Moor isn’t a disastrous result. If Spurs can get 4 points from Burnley away and Swansea away in midweek, that’d be fine.
What should Burnley fans expect from Tottenham on Saturday?
Spurs are very organised defensively, and in Year Three of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign, have a very clear understanding of his demands and style. The wingbacks push very high — Danny Rose is still out which is another boost for Burnley — while Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier both charge forward and join in attacks. Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele form a hugely imposing midfield shield, while Christian Eriksen is the main playmaker who drifts around in search of space. Expect Dele Alli to play almost as a striker and regularly be the furthest man forward, always sniffing for a goal. Son is an excellent finisher and superb technical forward, but he can drift out of games. It’ll be difficult for Burnley, but without Kane, Spurs aren’t quite the same team.
Finally, how do you see the game panning out and what is your prediction?
Tight, very tight. Do not expect a goalfest. Most likely it’ll be 0-0, but maybe Spurs can summon the spirit of Lincoln and snatch a crucial late winner.

 

 

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