Burnley make the short trip to Goodison Park on Saturday, knowing that three points would all but secure their Premier League status for another year.
Saturday is also a big game for the Toffees; as they continue their push for a top six spot. A win against the Clarets on Saturday would also set a record of eight consecutive home victories.
Before the weekend’s crunch clash, I caught up with fans of both sides to get their thoughts on what looks set to be a great game…
Burnley fan – Peter Davis (@peter_css_sales)
Everton have won seven home games in a row now, but can Burnley be the team to end that run?
Who knows, why not? If there’s a team able to set up to scrap for points in an ugly manner, it’s us! So long as the defensive back 5 continue to play as they have this season, you never know, we may just get a lucky break on the counter.
Do you think too much is made of the away record given the fact we are still comfortably in mid table without winning on the road?
Very. I understand both sides of the argument. Yes, not winning away from home isn’t a record to scream about, but personally I do think it’s made to be more of a deal than it is. If someone had said before the Swansea opener back in August that come April time we’ll be sat in mid-table on 36 points, would anyone have given a stuff where those points came from? Not in the slightest. The objective was (is) survival. If we achieve it – as is looking increasingly likely – Dyche and the staff can enjoy the summer then get back to address the ‘away day monkey’ and crack on again next season.
Despite winning just one game the starting 11 has been very settled lately. Would you be tempted to switch it up a little? If so, what changes would you make?
I think the only change I’d maybe look into is that of Joey Barton. I am a big, big fan of his but I do just think that these last couple of games his, how shall we say, ‘buzz of enthusiasm’ that we saw on his return in January has waned a little, distribution has been iffy and has looked slightly leggy. I’d perhaps give Westwood a run out, though it would be mightily harsh on Barton to criticise him for a couple of games, bearing in mind how much quality he added to our game since joining last season.
What do you expect we will see of Everton on Saturday?
Since the turn of the year, certainly at home, Everton are looking like a team that are starting to click under Ronald Koeman’s leadership. 7 wins from 7 so far in 2017 is a cracking record – though as touched on earlier, if we set up ‘ugly’, we’ve proved this season that we can take points from the so called bigger sides. Lukaku is the obvious threat, but if Everton set up with a 433 system, we may find our two-man midfield gets a little over-run – as was on display with Boro’s three-man midfield last Saturday. Perhaps we’ll see Dyche tweak the set-up slightly to balance the battle in the middle of the park.
How do you see the game panning out and what is your prediction?
Again, another tough away trip. Anything from this game is a huge bonus and another big stride towards the magical 40-points mark. West Brom aside, we’ve not had many ‘hammerings’ this season, unlike our inaugural Premier League season in 2009. I’d take a 0-0, would love a 1-0 – just hoping that we don’t come unstuck and end up on the receiving end of a hiding from the Toffees. UTC!
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Everton have been one of the league’s in form sides since the turn of the year. What do you put that down to?
I put that down to the manager getting his way. He came in over the summer, and we were absolutely awful last season. No one wanted the manager last season, so he had to come in and deal with a lot of that. Our players from last season were so lazy and disjointed, so the first thing he had to do was start working them and get them to a fitness level he wanted, which hasn’t been easy, but if you look at it now, we score so many goals in the last 10 minutes of games it’s unbelievable! In January, he got a lot of players out that he didn’t want. It wasn’t really a case of bringing players in, except Schneiderlin, who’s quality, but there’s no one around now who you could say is ‘bringing the team down’. He’s also brought a few of the kids in as well, Tom Davies, Calvert-Lewin, Matthew Pennington and Mason Holgate have all come in and it’s revitalised the team.
What do you believe will be the key to beating Burnley?
Patience! We’ve got to be patient, because I don’t think you will come and just open the doors. You’re a tough, competitive team that knows how to defend and be organised, so we’re just going to have to be patient. I look back to the West Brom game, they came and it was really tight for 25 minutes, but then we nicked one and got another. That will be it, it will just be keep patient, don’t got overboard and start chasing the game when we don’t have to. I think the fact that we’ve won quite a few games in a row, has created an atmosphere at Goodison where the fans are very patient now and no one panics. Even last week against Leicester when we went 2-1 down, everyone stayed calm and no one panicked
Everton have the chance to break a record on Saturday by registering eight home wins in a row, but even though Burnley haven’t won on the road, do you still see the game as a potential banana skin?
Yes! Massively! Those two opposing forces, in football, tells me that something is always likely to give. We have this saying called ‘Everton that’ and its when you grab defeat from the hands of victory! The Superbowl this year was the epitome of Everton that! Anytime someone hasn’t won a game for a while, or a striker’s on a drought, they always seem to break that against Everton! I’m not worried as such, but I’m just obvious to the fact that just because you haven’t won loads of away games, doesn’t mean you’re not a good side, and you’ll come and try and frustrate us. I think that’s always the biggest thing in football, that when your so odds on to win a game, everyone expects you to win it, and that can create it’s own issues. I’m very, very aware that this could be a banana skin on Saturday.
What should Burnley fans expect of Everton on Saturday?
A side that can mix it. The last few years, it’s been all tippy tappy football from Martinez, and the side still retains that, but when it’s time to go long, it’s time to go long and that’s the be all and end all. With two centre back’s at the minute of Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams, they’ll do that when the have to, no doubts about that. The team can mix it up. Obviously we’ve got players like Schneiderlin, who’ll just sit in front of the back four, and everything goes through him, he dictates the way we play. Gana, who’s been an absolute revelation, will go hunting all over the pitch for that ball, as will Tom Davies, who again has come into the side, and it’s hard to pin down what he is, because he’s a bit of everything. With Lukaku up front, you’ll be surprised how for long spells of the game, he’s not involved, and then suddenly, he’s got two goals within five minutes, that’s what he’s like. When people talk about him in the media about not being as good as Kane etc, that’s what they’re talking about. Especially when he’s isolated, you’ll think to yourself, how is he a £70/£80/£90 million striker, and then bang, he scores two goals, and that’s why he’s the top scorer in the Premier League. The main thing is, we can mix it, but we can play football as well.
Other than Lukaku, what other attacking threats do Everton have?
Ross Barkley will play. No worries about that. Whatever has happened this week has happened and it’s a storm in a teacup. Recently, he’s been controlling the games better, getting on the ball, moving it with a lot more confidence, where as early on in the season, he was dwelling on it and getting caught in possession, losing the ball in his own half; he’s a lot more proactive now. He’s got a position on the right-hand side, which he plays off, but it’s more of a free role. When Seamus Coleman was in the side, it was a lot better, because he plays almost like a right winger. We’ve got Holgate in there at the moment, he’s not as adventurous, but Ross will play the same position. He can open up teams very quickly. Mirallas on the other side is a little bit more direct and he’s very competitive. He will get in players faces and he doesn’t mind getting in physical battles. Tom Davies, he reminds me of a Frank Lampard or a Tim Cahill. You watch him and you think, ‘What does he do?’ and then he ghosts’ in and finds himself with a chance to score. He’s a bit of everything. We do have a lot of different threats. I know Lukaku scores a lot of the goals, but I think we’ve scored more goals than anyone else from different players. We’ve spread the goals around, although Lukaku has got a major chunk of them. We’re not a one trick pony whatsoever, we will come at you from different angles.
How do you see the game panning out and what is your prediction?
I can see it being tight. I think if Everton can get an early goal, that would be massive for us because it would change how Burnley would have to come out. But I imagine it will be very tight to start with; Burnley trying to get on set-pieces and it will just be a case of us trying to wear you down. I do think we will win, but only by the odd goal, I really do. Whether that be 2-1, or maybe 2-0 if everything goes our way, but I am expecting a very tight game. I expect Burnley to be very competitive.