And down the stretch they come! Tottenham Hotspur return to action against Burnley F.C. on Saturday for the last quarter of the 2016-17 campaign. Spurs are coming off a solid 2-1 Harry Kane-less victory over Southhampton in their last run-out. Combine that win, with their 3-2 triumph over Everton the previous week and Tottenham have notched strong back-to-back wins in the Premier League. They currently sit second in the table, ten points adrift to league leaders Chelsea, two points ahead of third placed Manchester City, and seven points clear of United in fifth place; though United has a game-in-hand. Spurs are second in the Premier League on April 1st for the second straight season. No, this is not April Fools.
There is no rest for the weary though. Burnley aren’t the sexiest of sides, but they are stingy, scrappy, and guaranteed to push for ninety minutes. Place them in the confines of their historic Turf Moor and they become legitimately formidable. Burnley’s home record stands at nine wins, one draw, and three losses, which is third best in the Premier League. To put this into perspective, twenty-eight of their thirty-two points on the season, and all nine of their wins, have been secured at home. That is insane! Currently they sit in thirteenth place in the Premier League, eight points above the relegation spots.
Their recent form though hasn’t been too great. Lincoln City ousted them from the FA Cup, while they’ve failed to capture three points in their last six league matches. Their late February / March has been particularly bad losing to Swansea and Liverpool and drawing to Hull and Sunderland. It should be noted though, that all of these games have been away from home.
Defensively Burnley are sound and have some real talent in their backline. Michael Keane has had a whirlwind of a season and the twenty-four year old center-back was recently handed his senior England debut as a reward for his productive season. Matthew Lowton, the Kieran Trippier replacement, and Ben Mee have also been stalwarts in defense for the Clarets.
On the offensive side of the ball, well, there isn’t much to talk about. Andre Gray, the 2015-16 Championship player of the year, has transitioned nicely to the Premier League, has put up nine goals, takes his chances well, and can be tricky in the open field. He doesn’t really have too much else to work with though, unless you count Joey Barton’s box-to-box ingenuity, which I don’t.
Burnley haven’t won a match since January, but they are at home, and securing three points off them will be a difficult task. Its crunch time though and Tottenham Hotspur need to perform. There isn’t much between second and sixth place and every little point counts, especially those won in April. Burnley, for their part, aren’t totally clear of the relegation spots, so they have a lot on the line too. Look for a gritty and important encounter between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley F.C. on Saturday.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Turf Moor, Burnley, UK
Official: Stuart Attwell
TV: Premier League Extra Time (NBC Sports Live Extra), BBC Radio (UK), Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsbet World Now, Sportsnet East (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London,BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Its a busy week on the injury front. Harry Kane has begun light field training with his ankle, while Danny Rose’s progress will be assessed this week. Both will be sidelined for Burnley. Our thin striker corps might be even more depleted with Vincent Janssen in doubt. The Dutchman is day-to-day with a chest infection, but is wholly uncertain for Saturday. Lastly, Erik Lamela will undergo hip surgery this weekend. This eliminates all possibility of the Argentine’s return to the team this season. He was soooooooo good in preseason and this really looked like a chance for him to take another major step-up in his development. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be in 2016-17. Best wishes in the recovery, Erik.
Tottenham will continue to trot out their 3-4-3 lineup. Ben Davies will start in place of Danny Rose at left wing-back, with Kyle Walker playing in that same role on the opposite side, and Dier, Aldeweireld, and Vertonghen forming a triumvirate in the back. Moose and Wanyama will continue their stellar partnership in the center of midfield, while Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen will interchange in front of them. Son Heung-Min will start in the lone striker role, regardless of Vincent Janssen’s health.
GN Punk and yours truly dropped a perfect scoreline in Spurs’ 2-1 victory over Southhampton and won two points on the day. Every other Cartilage Free Captain writer predicted a Tottenham triumph. GN Punk pushed ahead of Meador and Mechanick to claim sole possession of first place, while Matthew Pachniuk nudged himself into a second placed three way tie with the aforementioned Meador and Mechanick. BOOMSHACKALACKA!
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings
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Dustin Menno: Burnley have lost only three games at home this year: to Manchester City, Arsenal, and Swansea in the first match of the season. They don’t give up many big chances, and they don’t take many big chances. Meanwhile, Spurs looked a little toothless at times without Harry Kane. This has 0-0 written all over it.
Matthew Pachniuk: This is a tough one to call. Burnley’s home record demands respect, but boy are they bad going forward. They also haven’t won a match since January. I’m going to keep the positivity train running. Spurs 2-0.
Jake Meador: 0-0.
55th Vin: Victor Wanyama will score a goal, cut George Boyd's hair in celebration, and Dele Alli will dropkick Sean Dyche for making him play in such a dour game. 1-0, but it'll be a hell of a time. Oh, wait, I don't do these anymore…
Salmon Chase: How do you guys know so much about this kickie ball game? 4-0 Spurs.
Pardeep Cattry: This is not going to be fun. 0-0.
Alex Greenberg: On the road, Burnley are ham rolls. But at home they're much better fam. Tough game at Turf Moor, but thankfully there will be no Paulinho in our midfield to shoot easy chances 50 feet wide of goal. 2-1 Spurs.
GN Punk: I was playing Rocket League last night and my last match was in Wasteland, 3v3. The team we played against basically would only play defense and it went 0-0 until the last few seconds until a midfield rocket scored the winning goal. I'm going to roll with Sonny getting that winner late. 1-0 Spurs.
Brian Mechanick: I don't see much in this Burnley team that can slow down Spurs. A comfortable 2-0 win.