Two struggling sides at the wrong end of the Premier League table will lock horns in a relegation battle at Turf Moor on Wednesday night as Burnley play host to Everton.
The Toffees are hovering three points above the drop zone in 17th place, while the Clarets are positioned four points further back in 19th having played the same number of games.
After losing all three league matches in March without scoring, Burnley extended this miserable run when they suffered a 2-0 defeat at home to Premier League leaders Manchester City last weekend.
Sean Dyche’s men were unsurprisingly outclassed by the Citizens, with goals inside the first 25 minutes from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan condemning the Clarets to their 13th defeat of the campaign.
Burnley’s evident defensive frailties and lack of quality in the final third are hampering their hopes of survival, with their six-year stay in the top flight now at serious risk as they head into their final 10 games of the season.
If they are to return to winning ways, then their midweek clash with fellow strugglers Everton could be the perfect fixture for them, considering they have won more Premier League home matches against the Toffees (four) than they have against any other team in the division.
With another huge match against Norwich City coming up on Sunday, as well as an encounter at Watford at the end of this month, April could prove to be a defining period for the Clarets in their bid to avoid the drop.
While the dismissal of Rafael Benitez in mid-January was applauded by Everton supporters, Frank Lampard is yet to make his mark in the Goodison hotseat, and the Toffees faithful have yet to be convinced that he is the man to steer them away from an unimaginable demotion to the Championship.
The only impact Lampard seems to have had at the Merseyside outfit is cooling the hostile atmosphere needlessly created by the club’s owners, who thought it was a wise decision to appoint an ex-Liverpool manager in the summer.
Everton have lost 16 of their last 21 Premier League matches, dating back to the middle of October last year, and suffered their most recent defeat at the hands of David Moyes’s West Ham United, who claimed a 2-1 win in the capital on Sunday.
Mason Holgate’s deflected strike in the second half cancelled out Aaron Cresswell’s brilliant first-half free kick, but Jarrod Bowen’s 58th-minute strike ensured the points were claimed by the Hammers, while the dismissal of Michael Keane rubbed salt into the visitors’ wounds.
Everton have accumulated only six points since the turn of the year, the fewest of any Premier League side, and they currently have the worst away record in the top flight this season, winning only once, drawing three and losing 10 of their 14 games on the road. The Toffees have suffered defeat in each of their last five away matches and have conceded at least twice in each game in the process.
Two of these five away defeats were against Norwich and Newcastle United, who at the time were both in the relegation zone. Nevertheless, Everton did beat Burnley 3-1 in the reverse fixture earlier this season, so Lampard will be hoping for a similar performance and result on Wednesday, as they bid to move six points clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand on 18th-placed Watford.
Burnley Premier League form:
Everton Premier League form:
Everton form (all competitions):
We say: Burnley 2-1 Everton
Both Burnley and Everton will be desperate to end their poor runs of form and will view Wednesday’s fixture as one they simply cannot afford to lose in their bid for Premier League survival.
It is hard to back the Toffees on the road, and although Dyche’s men have struggled for goals of late, we feel that the Clarets may have more joy in the final third this time around, edging a closely-fought contest to claim three crucial points on home soil.