Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Burnley

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• Everton can win a third successive game against Burnley for the first time since 1968-70, when they enjoyed a four-match winning streak.

• Burnley are without a league goal in four hours and 59 minutes since George Boyd’s winner in the 1-0 victory over Manchester City.

• The Toffees are one of only three possible Premier League teams with an unbeaten home record in 2015 – along with Arsenal and Chelsea. They have won two and drawn four since a 1-0 defeat against Stoke on Boxing Day. (BBC Sport)

Burnley held ground against Arsenal last week and will have a normal, week-long turnaround away from home, facing a competitive Everton squad on Saturday.

The first competition between these two outfits in October ended in a clear Everton victory, 3-1, as Samuel Eto’o’s brace ultimately made the outcome possible.

The Toffees were once in the dead middle of the Premier League table at 10th place. However, they’ve dropped two spots, although Roberto Martinez’s side has pulled together to finish the last four games unbeaten.

The highlight in that stretch was a 3-0 win over Newcastle United, with Romelu Lukaku nailing a penalty kick and Ross Barkley burying the final goal in the last minute.

In other good news for Everton, the gifted striker Lukaku, who has been out for the past month due to a groin injury, will likely take the pitch tomorrow.

[RELATED: Prince-Wright’s PL picks for the weekend]

Burnley is coming off the toughest eight-match period of the season, no doubt. Their opponents included Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton and Liverpool, and luckily, the Clarets managed to steal one on home turf—a 1-0 win against City.

From now until the end of the year, Sean Dyche will aim to jump the ranks in order to stave off relegation.

Currently, his team sits at 19th place with 26 points but other squads are close to that tally. Leicester City, in last place, has 25 points, while Hull City is three points ahead and one spot out of the danger zone.

Catch the Everton-Burnley live on NBC Sports Live Extra at 10 a.m. ET.

What they’re saying

Everton boss Roberto Martinez on Kevin Mirallas’ return and stay with the Toffees (Liverpool Echo): “Kevin picked up a really difficult injury when you are a sprinter like he is. He has had a soft tissue problem so we need to be careful. Now he is getting to 100% and Kevin has been a really important player for us in the last two years and his goal scoring threat is something that we really need in the team.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on squad/transfer flexibility (Sky Sports): ”It’s recognised we’ve tried to do something different from the norm – which is to throw money at every situation…We’re trying to build something on and off the pitch. There are challenges that come with that because it is quite hard to get players in who don’t need developing, who can just go in and do it on the money we’ve spent.”

Match injuries/absences

As mentioned earlier, Lukaku is back. Leon Osman’s groin injury will probably keep him out. Although going strong in training, Bryan Oviedo’s hamstring injury will be fully healed in May, while Aiden McGeady also shouldn’t see time on the field in this one.

The Clarets have to deal with the extended nonappearances of Dean Marney and Kevin Long. Steven Reid (calf) and Ross Wallace (knee) are doubts for Burnley as well.

Prediction

You can’t deny that Everton’s been hot as of late, but it’s still unclear when their run of form will end. Against a desperate Burnley, regardless of Lukaku’s impact, the Toffees should hit the five-game unbeaten mark. Everton 2-1 Burnley.

Slow start dooms Southampton again: ‘We lost the game in first half’

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Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.

Bournemouth carried over the line by ‘fight and belief’

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It wasn’t pretty — at least not in the second half — but Bournemouth had enough “fight and belief” to get themselves over the line for a first-ever win away to Southampton on Friday.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Speaking after the game, Cherries manager Eddie Howe was obviously pleased by the victory in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry, but quickly turned his attention to a list of areas in which his team came up short and was perhaps fortunate to hold onto a 2-1 lead prior to Callum Wilson‘s gifted goal in the 95th minute — quotes from the BBC:

“It was a nice moment. We rarely get those moments in football where you get that pure emotion and joy for a few seconds. Then you start thinking about next week.

“You want the players brought down to earth because you want the focus on consistent success. In the first, half we were okay. We didn’t hit the heights we are capable of. We were scrappy and didn’t keep the ball as well as I wanted, but we had spirit and sometimes that’s the most important thing.

“In the second half, we were reactive and looked tired and that’s where we needed to show our heart to see the game out. There were some heroics from our goalkeeper too.”

As for defender Nathan Ake, scorer of Bournemouth’s first goal, it was all about digging deep for the desire and will to win. The 24-year-old has established himself as one of the first names on Howe’s teamsheet every week at this point.

“It was a very tough game. The fans are buzzing. It was a great three points. The manager said to put the ball in the box.

“It was a great ball and it fell on my head. In the second half, we made it difficult for ourselves. We didn’t keep hold of the ball and had to defend more. The last result against Everton was great so it gives you confidence, but we had to fight and believe we could win.”

Had you offered anyone associated with Bournemouth 10 points from their first six games, they would have snatched your hand off to take them. A thoroughly solid start to the season. Up next is a visit from ninth-place West Ham United next Saturday.

Bournemouth picks up first-ever win away to Southampton

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Bournemouth picked up its first-ever victory (16 visits – all competitions) away to Southampton in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry, 3-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium on Friday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nathan Ake and Harry Wilson got goals for Eddie Howe‘s side during a wonderfully dominant first-half performance before the roles were reversed in the second half. James Ward-Prowse pulled Southampton back to 2-1 not long after halftime and Saints pressed and pressed for an equalizer but ultimately came up empty. To make matters worse, Callum Wilson put the game away on a late Saints howler.


3 things we learned

  1. Slow starts for Saints — Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. For a team that’s built around the idea of defensive solidity and limiting chances, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side appears especially limited once forced to change its plan of attack and… well, attack. In the two games they didn’t concede first, two clean sheets and two wins.
  2. Halftime adjustments — Hasenhuttl certainly got his tactics wrong from the start, but whatever was said at halftime made a noticeable difference in the second half. Given loads more freedom to push forward in attack and to win back possession, Southampton made it a game from 45:01 onward.
  3. Making few chances count a lot — Bournemouth needed just six shots to get their two goals. On the other hand, they managed just six shots in 90 minutes. Highly efficient, or lacking in overall production? Both, perhaps?

Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu


Ake put the Cherries ahead in the 10th minute, rising high above the crowd to get his head to Diego Rico‘s corner kick. It was Bournemouth’s fifth goal (of nine scored) from a set piece this season.

It didn’t take long for Bournemouth to easily cut through Saints’ four-man backline — a tactical change from the three-man operation which secured a victory away to Sheffield United last weekend — and put the ball in the back of the net again. Joshua King finished a devastating counter-attack with a sublime finish, only to have the goal taken off the board for being narrowly offside, via video review.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Once again, Bournemouth met little resistance en route to doubling their lead, only this time the goal stood. Philip Billing got to the endline down the left side of Saints’ penalty area and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Wilson was waiting to sweep it past a helpless Angus Gunn.

Saints were gifted their way back into the game in the 52nd minute, when Steve Cook went straight through Che Adams as Southampton broke down the left side of the box. Ward-Prowse stepped up to the spot and hammered the ball past Aaron Ramsdale to cut the deficit in half.

Saints’ best chance at drawing level came in the 82nd minute, but Ward-Prowse was denied Ramsdale from close range, and though he spilled the rebound in front of goal, Bournemouth were able to clear the ball away in just the nick of time.

Gunn and center back Jannik Vestergaard ran into one another outside the Saints penalty area in the 95th minute, allowing Wilson to pick the ball up and walk it over the end line for the late exclamation point on Bournemouth’s historic night.

Bournemouth’s defensive desperation was such that they attempted just the six shots in the game, including zero between the 38th and 85th minutes. Alas, Saints couldn’t find the equalizer and Bournemouth catapulted all the way up to third in the PL, for the time being.

Watch Live: Southampton v. Bournemouth

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Southampton takes on Bournemouth in a battle of south-coast clubs at the St. Mary’s Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Both teams enter the match with seven points, and a win can, for the time being, vault either side into the top four until the rest of the weekend’s games take place.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Interestingly, Southampton have ruled the roost when it comes to matchups against Bournemouth. Southampton has won three, drawn four and lost just once in Premier League matches against Bournemouth, but perhaps this time it could be different.

Both teams are coming off wins, though Bournemouth’s 3-1 shock of Everton could be seen as more impressive than Southampton’s 1-0 victory over Sheffield United.

Watch the game with us at the link above, and stay on PST for analysis and reaction at halftime and following the final whistle.


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