Hammers complete the fixtures at Turf Moor

18 May 2017 03:27

Burnley's final EPL assignment of the season arrives on Sunday when West Ham United are the visitors  in front of another sell out crowd at Turf Moor.

While another season in the Premier League has been secured there is still an awful lot resting on the outcome of this final match. Financial rewards for finishing higher up the Premier League ensures there really is no such thing as a dead rubber in the top flight of English football.

A home win and other results going the Clarets way could see Sean Dyche and his team finish in 11th position in the final table. A defeat could leave Burnley in 17th position, just one place above the already decided three relegation places.

That is just how close it is in the bottom half of the table going into the last game.

Survival has been well earned but for me there would still be a little bit of an anti-climax finishing just one place above Hull and behind Swansea, after all the heroics we have witnessed at Turf Moor this season.

There is still a real need for Sean Dyche and his troops to remain 100% committed and 100% focused and take advantage of this more relaxed end of the season fixture. Pride is at stake and not to mention the extra millions that will come into the club coffers for jumping up a couple of extra notches in the League table.

I will once again be unable to attend but there will be no stopping me from imbibing in Wetherspoons before the game, soaking up the tremendous atmosphere and meeting up with old and new friends, coming from all parts of the country.

The Clarets achievement of maintaining their place in the Premier League is probably the greatest thing that has happened to Burnley Football Club  in over half a century and it is a genuine opportunity to celebrate. I look forward to repeating the afternoon's celebrations at the end of next season.

While there is talk of establishing Burnley as a Premier League team over the coming seasons, it is beyond reasonable doubt the Clarets will be red hot favourites and strongly backed for relegation next season.

Sean Dyche's team have been a real force to be reckoned with at Fortress Turf Moor all this season. It remains an enigma why the Clarets appear to be a different side on their travels and it is vital the Clarets improve away from home in the new campaign.

There have been a selection of stirring victories and so few defeats at Turf Moor.  Half a dozen quite special goals to remember and so many special performances to savour and enjoy.

The Clarets have been led all season by a brilliant captain in Tom Heaton, who is officially now Burnley's Player of the Year.

I hope the fans get the chance to say a proper farewell to Michael Keane before he heads off to Old Trafford or wherever he ends up. A niggling injury may ensure the young England international has already played his last game for Burnley Football Club.

Heaton and Keane may well be settling to the international stage but each and everyone of the Burnley players deserve the applause of the crowd on Sunday.

What of the game itself? West Ham United will also be looking for a strong finish to their campaign  although it didn't look that way last weekend when they capitulated at home, losing 4-0 to Liverpool to spoil an unbeaten run of five games.

Burnley's opponents on Sunday will be missing several key players, but even with them they have struggled in the bottom half all season. Despite having a top class manager in Slaven Bilic there has been real unrest behind the scenes and his position has always seemed under threat and appeared at times to be almost untenable.

The Hammers gave the impression against Klopp's Reds they are already on the beach and are there for the taking in my opinion.

There are still one or two unsettled issues for Sean Dyche to decide the Claret's starting eleven. Who will end up Burnley's top Premier League scorer this season? Big Sam Vokes has scored 3 goals in his last 2 games and probably has the edge over Andre Gray going into the game.

It's likely to be the same central defensive combination who played in the Clarets last two games. James Tarkowski will probably start alongside the Clarets, longest serving player, Kevin Long. Irons hitman Andy Carroll if fit to play, will no doubt be thinking otherwise!

While both have played well since replacing Keane and Ben Mee two games ago, sloppy goals have been conceded in both  games and a clean sheet would be most welcome in the Clarets' final match of the season.

One position that does appear settled for next season is that of the Premier League's third longest surviving manager, Sean Dyche. Not for the Clarets' Board of Directors are the shenanigans currently experienced at Dyche's former employers Watford.

Longevity and building a legacy are very much part of the Burnley manager's and Chairman's ambition. Sean Dyche is pretty much revered and loved  amongst all Burnley fans. There is a feeling there may be a ginger statue one day in the making!

The West Ham fixture is dedicated to the former Chairman's Barry Kilby Prostate Cancer Appeal. All net profits from the Golden Goal Gamble will be donated to the Appeal and there will also be bucket and tin collections on the day. Full details are available on the club's website.

This match preview on the ultimate day of the Turf Moor season was written by veteran Claret fan and regular contributor to Clarets Mad, Michael Donnelly (alias the "Donz") TEC.

Source: DSG

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