There’s a huge clash with implications at the bottom of the table in the Premier League tonight when Burnley host Watford at Turf Moor.
*The game between Burnley and Watford has been postponed due to the recent coronavirus outbreak
Just a place separates the two sides in the standings, with Burnley currently occupying the final relegation place and the Hornets one spot above the dotted line in 16th.
Victory for the Clarets – who have a game in hand over their relegation rivals due to the recent postponement of their home game with Spurs – will see them leapfrog Watford and lift themselves out of the drop zone at their opponents’ expense.
If Burnley do win, it will just be their second victory of the season, although they have drawn 8 of their 15 games so far this term.
Watford, contrastingly, have won 4 matches this campaign – including convincing successes over Manchester United and Everton – but no side has lost more games in the top flight than the Hornets’ 11 defeats, either.
All in all Burnley will feel they hold the slight advantage of being on home soil and having a game in hand in the relegation mix-up, but manager Sean Dyche will be taking no chances in what is arguably looking like the Clarets’ biggest game of the Premier League season to date.
Dyche’s biggest issue is his side’s lack of goals, with Burnley having drawn a blank in their last 3 league games, registering just 3 shots on target during that time.
In fact, the Clarets haven’t scored a league goal in almost a month, with their last strikes coming in a 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace at Turf Moor in mid-November. Only bottom-club Norwich City have scored fewer times in the top flight this term than Burnley.
Summer signing Maxwel Cornet has scored more than a third of Burnley’s league goals so far this season, but once again he is a doubt for Dyche with a niggling thigh injury.
Ashley Barnes also remains absent with a long term thigh issue, whilst Dale Stephens and Connor Roberts are major doubts due to recent illness.
For Watford, since a 4-1 home win over Manchester United – a result which cost then-boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job at Old Trafford – Claudio Ranieri’s men haven’t registered a Premier League point.
The Hornets have lost their last 4 games since that win over United, admittedly against sides of the calibre of Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City.
However, the most recent of that string of defeats will have stung the Hornets the most. Two goals in the dying stages of Friday night’s clash with Brentford condemned Watford to a 2-1 defeat.
Goals in minutes 86 and 94 respectively – the latter from the penalty spot – will have been tough to take for Watford in their fight for survival.
That being said, the focus should immediately shift now to the next two games, against Burnley at Turf Moor on Wednesday night and then Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road at the weekend.
Watford will be eyeing those games as potential opportunities for points, with the emphasis elevated after that disappointing defeat to Brentford last time out, arguably more so with perceived tougher games against Wolves, Tottenham and West Ham follow between the weekend and the new year.
Ranieri’s task of top flight survival with the Hornets isn’t an easy one and it’s made all the more difficult by a string of first team absentees.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster remains out with a groin injury until the new year, so too does summer singing Nicolas N’Koulou with a thigh complaint.
A big miss is lively forward Ismaïla Sarr who has knee ligament damage and is sidelined for an unknown length of time, whilst Baah, Masina, Sierralta, Kabasele and Etebo are all considered out or major doubts to feature.
Burnley v Watford in the Premier League at Turf Moor kicks off at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15th December 2021.