Not exactly the marquee matchup of the weekend in the English Premier League but it is the only game on Friday’s board. Burnley doesn’t have much to play for except professional pride while Everton has an outside chance of qualifying for Europa League play should they finish in 7th place. They’ll need some help from Manchester City who would need to win the FA Cup final against Watford later this month. Should that transpire, the 7th place team in the Premiership table will be thrown into the Europa League qualifying mix. Any type of European Cup play would be a very welcome positive for an Everton team that has been mired in the middle to bottom half of the table in the past few years.
Burney has essentially taken care of business for the year. They’re currently in 15th place with 40 points and depending on how the rest of the mid to lower pack table finishes the season they could finish as high as 11th or 12th. Given the quality of opposition they face the rest of the way that’s not likely. Their big accomplishment for the season is staying up for another year. In the context of the other teams toward the bottom of the Premiership table they definitely deserve as they’ve played hard for much of the past two months. They won three games in a row last month against Wolverhampton, Bournemouth and Cardiff City which they followed up with a draw against Chelsea.
They gave an excellent account of themselves in their last game at home against Manchester City–City needed the win to keep their championship destiny in their own hands and finally managed to get it by the narrowest of margins in a 1-0 victory. Manchester City kept the pressure on Burnley throughout holding a 70% to 30% possession advantage and a 25-2 shots advantage. Were this the NHL, the conclusion would be that Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton ‘stood on his head’ and kept the presumptive Premiership champions off the board until the 63 minute mark when Sergio Aguero’s shot barely made it over the goal line.
Burnley will finish the season at home next week against Arsenal and if the Gunners don’t pay attention they could get upset by this hard trying Burnley side. This week they head to Goodison Park with a 4-5-9 record in Premiership play. They have lost only 2 of their 6 away games in all competitions scoring at least two goals in five of six. Burnley might not have the payroll and thus the talent of the top flight EPL teams but they have a champion’s work ethic. Credit to manager Sean Dyche for setting them up for a fourth straight season at the top level of English football.
Even though this will be a nationally televised Friday night contest Burnley is in something of a ‘let down spot’ off of that grueling contest against Manchester City and with their season finale in front of their own supporters against Arsenal on deck. Really, they’ve been playing feisty football for over a month so a flat spot could be inevitable. Everton lost 1-0 at home to Burnley last season but ripped them 5-1 at Turf Moor earlier this year. Before last season’s 1-0 setback they had won 3 straight at home against Burnley. Everton has been playing very well at home of late winning 3 and drawing 1 in their last four against Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. They kept a clean sheet in all four as well. Everton should get the win here but a better wager looks to involve the scoring. Burnley has managed to put the ball in the net away from home so this contest should see both team’s to score and the total to go ‘Over’.