The Long Road Trip South for Dyche's Clarets.

02 November 2017 11:28

Despite all the "Paper Talk" being about Dyche's so called links to the Everton managerial vacancy, Burnley travel to the south coast and the St Mary's Stadium on Saturday, to take on hosts Southampton.

The Clarets currently proudly sit just 3 points outside a Champions League place in 7th place in the Premier League table, while the Saints occupy a mid table position. It is worth noting only three points separate the two sides. Kick off 3pm and represents the last game before yet another international break.

Of course I do not believe for a second that Burnley will be challenging for a Champions League place this season but it's worth noting that the respective current position of the two clubs is much changed from last season's fixture.

At that time the Saints hadn't conceded for 6 games and were flying high, unbeaten at home. The Clarets couldn't buy an away result and were having to rely on home form to keep themselves out of the relegation places.

That score line finished  3-1 to the home side, but in truth it could have been a much heavier defeat. Only some great saves from Tom Heaton, including one of the saves of the season pushing a point blank range Charlie Austin header pushed round the post, kept the half time score level at 0-0. 

Poor second half defending cost the Clarets three goals, including a Charlie Austin double. A Sam Vokes consolation penalty made the scoreline look more respectable but it wasn't enough from the Clarets.

This season, Southampton's home form has been unsettled and they have struggled for goals at home, going back into last season. They have won only 4 of their last 18 Premier League games. Manager Pellegrino have been forced to chop and change the side following only 2 wins in their 6  home games.

Want away rebel Van Dijk has had to be brought back into the side following his exclusion for trying to force a transfer to Liverpool. Pellegrino's problems continue this week as Van Dijk makes further overtures of his desire to be be away from Southampton in January.

Burnley's away form is one of the best in the division this season, with only the recent defeat to league leaders Manchester City preventing them going into this fixture unbeaten away from Turf Moor. This has included coming away undefeated against top sides Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool. There is harmony among the squad who are unaffected by all the ridiculous media hype about  manager Sean Dyche. 

So it's now 16 points from 10 games following my predicted 1-0 home win against Newcastle on Monday. It was good to bounce back after the City defeat and now only 1 defeat in 5 home games is making people believe again in fortress Turf Moor.

Such has been the superb form of so many of the  players this season it's easy to miss out other key performances. I want to single out two who I thought were the difference between  getting three points instead of one against Newcastle.

With top scorer Chris Wood sitting in the stand injured and Sam Vokes' coming back from injury and on the bench, Ashley Barnes stepped up and kept the strong backbone of the side intact. He made a nuisance of himself in the box for the goal and only a wonderful left handed save from the Newcastle goalkeeper from a hard low accurate Barnes shot prevented a bigger win.

Another important goal was created by the guile of  Gudmundsson for the second home game running. Many on the night thought he wasn't involved enough but what he does provide is usually top quality. The Clarets have been short of that quality in the side since returning to the Premier League.

So where does that win take Burnley and Sean Dyche? Mike Garlick said after the game, "The more success Sean gets the more people will look at him. But we look after him well and hopefully he will be here a long time".

This is becoming like a headache for most Clarets fans that won't go away. Dyche himself drew reference to the fact that despite results this season Burnley can't be considered a recognised Premier League side. There could be comfort  for fans who believe he will not go to Everton when he stressed that there is still work to be done.

Dyche has great status at Burnley and none at Everton. He means nothing to their fans who think they deserve better than Dyche. With all the media hype however, somebody or something is taking this further than the Leicester and Palace jobs. It will now be a surprise if an approach to Burnley is not made by Everton.

Personally I think if Everton make a move, and for me it's still not certain they will, Dyche would be best advised to stay at Burnley. A football club he can one day turn into the established Premier League side he talks about.

He remains for Burnley fans the person in our footballing lives that we dont want to let go off.

Saturday's match? Keep Gabbiadini quiet, take care with the Southampton free kicks and look to exploit leaden footed Fraser Forster and what little space Burnley will find against a compact Southampton side. I forecast a 1-1 draw with Robbie Brady netting from a free kick.

I also predict Sean Dyche will remain the manager of Burnley Football Club for a considerable while yet.

This Burnley centric match preview is written for Clarets Mad by uber Burnley fan Michael Donnelly, alias "The Donz". (TEC).

Source: DSG