At first glance a game between West Brom and Burnley isn’t likely to get the blood flowing. However in this topsy-turvy Premier League season this match had ramifications at both ends of the table. Here are some of the key talking points from yesterday’s game.
West Brom look down for the count.Embed from Getty Images
During the Summer transfer window the baggies appeared to have done sensible, tidy business. Bringing in experienced Premier League player such as Jay Rodriguez, Kieran Gibbs and Gareth Barry (whilst simultaneously weakening mid-table rivals) and exciting young prospects like Oliver Burke from RB Leipzig. Not to mention Daniel Sturridge in the January window- arguably one of the most potent attacking threats in the Premier League on his day.
The fact that 32 games and one stolen taxi later they find themselves not only in the relegation zone but seven points adrift from 19th shows that West Brom have really not had the best of seasons. Although if they do pull off a great escape I would pay good money to see what dance moves Pardew whips out.
Late call up for Ashley Barnes?Embed from Getty Images
With the world a mere 74 days away and the last round of friendlies played before provisional squads are announced it would seem unlikely for any previously uncapped players to get a call up this late in the day.
However, for the sake of argument let’s say that (all of the Gods forbid) Harry Kane stays injured for the rest of the season and can’t make it to Russia. Who would be a logical replacement for him in the squad? The usual suspects, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and to an extent Jermain Defoe have all had disappointing seasons with not many goals and not many minutes.
Glenn Murray has recived shouts for a call up after an impressive 11 goals this season yet you wonder if a 34 year old striker will still have the legs after the end of a frenetic season keeping Brighton in the premier League.
Ashley Barnes however may have only scored seven goals this season yet with four in his last four games he is coming into form at just the right time. A player who is used to playing up top in a team as compact and defensively-tight as Burnley’s could be an invaluable addition to the England squad. As much as Southgate wants to play attractive football out from the back, there will come a time when England come up against a team like Germany, or Brazil and it will be a backs to the wall job. In instances like these the predatory skill and attrition of Barnes off the bench could be much-welcomed.
Will we see Burnley in Europe next season?Embed from Getty Images
What with Manchester City running away at the top of the table and the melee of teams fighting for survival down the other end Burnley’s impressive league position this season has maybe started to go a bit under the radar.
From finishing 16th last season with only 7 points picked up away from to occupying 7th position for the vast majority of this season is a remarkable turn around from Dyche’s men.
If any of the top six win the FA cup then the final Europa League spot will fall down to 7th. With 3 of 4 semi-finalists currently occupying the top six it is looking increasingly likely that we may see Burnley plying their trade against Europe’s second best next season. They will have to hold off a late charge Leicester who are only three points behind at the time of writing.Embed from Getty Images
It will be interesting to see how Burnley fare in European competition. The Europa League has proved a mixed bag for English teams lately, from Chelsea and Manchester United winning it and Liverpool reaching the final to Everton and Southampton not making it out the group stage. For a team with more limited resources such as Burnley it could come as a bit of an unwelcome distraction from the Premier League where avoiding relegation must always be the priority.
Despite all of this, Turf Moor has not played host to European football since the 1966-67 season so it would be a great day in Burnley’s history if they were to qualify.
West Brom are awful and look certain to be going down. Burnley are very good and Ashley Barnes may win England the World Cup.
Written by Dom Clarke.