Burnley will open the doors to the Turf Moor for the first time this season as they get ready to take on Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup.
Round 2 Carabao Cup has been underway this week, with the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Southampton and Everton among the Premier League clubs taking on the pitch for the first time this season in the competition. On Thursday, Burnley lock horns with Premier League rivals Sheffield United in the big second round tie at Turf Moor.
Burnley enjoyed an absolute rollercoaster of a 2019/20 season, dancing from midtable to flirting with relegation in the span of two weeks. They were unable to find a steady pace till Gameweek 21, following a 3-0 loss against Chelsea. They were on the rise soon after that, eventually sitting 10th, two points clear off Southampton.
Level on points with Burnley were none other than their rivals on Thursday, Sheffield United, who took the Premier League by storm in their first season back in the top-flight. Even though they did not boast of any star players, the Blades were able to finish 9th thanks to the tactical mastermind in Chris Wilder, who was able to get the best from his defence.
They have not, however, start the new season well and were quite comfortably beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers, having struggled to cope with the pace of Daniel Podence and Adama Traore.
The two sides went head to head twice last season, with Sheffield United empathically beating Burnley 3-0 at Bramall Lane courtesy of Lys Mousset’s hattrick of assists in the first half. The story was different at Turf Moor, though, as the Blades rescued one point in the 80th minute with a John Egan header. We now take a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Sean Dyche has confirmed that Ben Mee, Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes will be sidelined for this fixture due to injuries, reducing their first-team down to no more than 15 players and forcing him to call players from the youth team.
Nick Pope will restart life with Burnley after an incredible 2019/20 season in which he ended with the second most clean sheets, and a place in the PFA Team of the Year as the starting goalkeeper.
Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor will likely be given the responsibility as the right and left-backs, respectively in Burnley’s flat back-four. They will be flanking the centre-half duo of Kevin Long and James Tarkowski. Erik Pieters is in contention to start as well, but will likely see the game out from the bench.
Dyche will start a four-man midfield with Ashley Westwood and Josh Brownhill as the double pivot in the centre of the park. The duo will have Johann Gudmundsson on their right and Dwight McNeil on their left as wide midfielders who will join the attack as wingers.
Finally, in the attack, Burnley are likely to feature Chris Wood alongside Jay Rodriguez, especially in the absence of Ashley Barnes. The likes of Lewis Richardson and Max Thompson are in line to make their debuts, and with Clarets’ squad running thin, the game against Sheffield United could be their chance.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pope; Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil; Wood, Rodriguez
There are no confirmed injuries for Sheffield United for this game, but Lys Mousset’s involvement depends on a last-minute fitness test he will have to go through before the game.
Aaron Ramsdale did not enjoy a brilliant debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers following his move from AFC Bournemouth in a €20.5 million deal. Still, he is expected to continue in goal while Wes Foderingham will be on the bench as his backup after moving to the Premier League this season a free transfer.
Phil Jagielka is expected to marshal the Sheffield United backline against Burnley on Thursday, starting in the centre of the back-three. He will be partnered by Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell on the right and left, respectively.
Ethan Ampadu is in line to make his debut in the Carabao Cup tie after joining the club on loan from Chelsea. The Welshman will start in the midfield as the deep-lying playmaker and is expected to reinforce the attack using his pinpoint long balls. Sander Berge will come in the XI in place of John Lundstram while John Fleck is expected to retain his place.
Arching this midfield trio, we are expecting George Baldock to be replaced by Jayden Bogle on the right, while Enda Stevens continues on the left following his impressive display against Wolves.
Up top, neither of Oliver McBurnie and Billy Sharp is expected to continue. David McGoldrick will likely start the game alongside new signing Oliver Burke following his transfer from West Bromwich Albion.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Jagielka, O’Connell; Bogle, Berge, Ampadu, Fleck, Stevens; McGoldrick, Burke
- Burnley and Sheffield United have faced each other 42 times in official competitions, with both teams winning 16 games each.
- The two teams have only ever met twice in the Premier League, and the record stands 1-1-0 in favour of the latter.
- Chris Wilder trumps Sean Dyche in head-to-head battles, leading the way with one win and a draw in a total of two meetings.
- Burnley have not managed to keep a clean sheet against Sheffield United for four games in a row, the last of which came in the Championship Playoff final in the 2009/10 season.
- Sheffield United vs Burnley has been a relatively clean battle so far, with their last ten games witnessing less than a total of four bookings in each of the games.
Player to Watch
Dwight McNeil was Burnley’s best player last season as Sean Dyche’s men failed to find consistent ground for the first half of the season. He started all 38 games last term, missing a total of 76 minutes, which effectively meant that he only missed a total of two minutes of each match due to substitutions.
McNeil ended the season with just the two goals but set up six assists for his teammates while creating 12 big chances and playing in 1.5 key passes per game. The 20-year-old is the only creative outlet in an otherwise stiff Burnley team and is bound for bigger things if he is able to carry his form from last season to this.
Burnley 1-0 Sheffield United
The only thing separating Burnley and Sheffield United right now is the fact that Burnley will have to field their first team on Thursday, while Sheffield United are expected to give game time to a bunch of new players in an attempt to find their best team for the season.
That said, if Chris Wilder starts his first team at Turf Moor, they are likely to replicate their second-half performance against Wolverhampton Wanderers, which could spell trouble for Sean Dyche. For now, we are sticking with a 1-0 win for Burnley in the Carabao Cup second round.