While the teams around them seek progress in the FA Cup, Burnley and Watford prepare to lock horns in a Premier League basement battle at Turf Moor on Saturday evening.
This fixture has already been postponed twice due to COVID-19, allowing both teams the chance to bolster their ranks in January in their fights to avoid the drop.
Forever maintaining their reputation as an incredibly physical outfit, the acquisition of 6ft 5in striker Wout Weghorst has only added a new dimension to Burnley’s prowess in that area, with the Clarets’ media team earning extra plaudits for their Jurassic Park-themed announcement video.
Bringing Bundesliga and international goalscoring experience to Turf Moor, Weghorst will endeavour to come out head and shoulders above the rest – in more ways than one – and a sense of attacking inspiration cannot come soon enough for Burnley.
Sean Dyche’s side did impressively hold top-four chasing Arsenal to a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium before the international break – although the Gunners’ lack of ruthlessness had something to do with that – and the Clarets remain bottom of the pile with 12 points to their name.
Of course, Burnley have been impacted enormously by the surge in COVID-19 cases and will clamber their way to safety should they win all their games in hand, but that 3-1 success over Brentford in October still represents their only top-flight win of the season.
Dyche’s side welcome Watford to Turf Moor aiming to avoid a 10th game in a row without victory in all competitions, but a four-game unbeaten Premier League run on home soil will serve to increase the confidence before the Hornets’ visit, as well as conceding just eight league goals at Turf Moor so far.
Following yet another early dismissal at Watford, with Premier League winner Claudio Ranieri failing to drag the Hornets away from the danger of demotion, 74-year-old Roy Hodgson has returned to become the next brave soul to handle the poisoned chalice.
A humiliating 3-0 home defeat to fellow relegation rivals Norwich City proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Ranieri – who oversaw eight defeats and a draw from his last nine games in charge – although he will always have that 4-1 thumping of Manchester United to look back on fondly.
Now is not the time for sentimentality, though, as former Crystal Palace and England boss Hodgson takes over with the Hornets languishing in 19th place, although 17th-placed Norwich are only two points clear having played two games more.
Fixing this ever-leaky defence would be a good place to start for Hodgson, with Watford failing to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League since February 2020, but their attacking prospects will also take a hit in the absence of suspended star striker Emmanuel Dennis.
Burnley did the double over Watford without conceding a goal in the 2019-20 Premier League season, and the Hornets have won just one of their last six against Dyche’s men in the Premier League, although that did come at Turf Moor in August 2018.
Burnley Premier League form:
Burnley form (all competitions):
Watford Premier League form:
Watford form (all competitions):
We say: Burnley 1-0 Watford
Despite their standing at the bottom of the table, Burnley can boast the honour of being one of the best defensive sides at home this term, which ought to serve them well against a confidence-depleted Watford.
The travelling support will hope to see the new manager bounce in full swing for the Hornets, but a new-look frontline of Weghorst and Cornet can expect to aid Burnley’s safety bid by contributing to a narrow victory.