Newcastle come into this game in surprisingly excellent form, with no defeats in three games after a start to the season that saw them take two points from the first ten games. They arrive at Turf Moor to face a Burnley side that has had its own struggles – following up last season’s qualification for the Europa League (and subsequent early exit) with a string of poor performances. A 4-0 win over Bournemouth seemed to suggest they were finding the “old” Burnley, but recently they’ve fallen back again.
Both of these sides will have witnessed Fulham and Huddersfield picking up wins at the weekend, and be fully aware that things are bunching up at the bottom of the table. Although out of the relegation zone for the moment, Burnley and Newcastle sit on nine points – a single point ahead of bottom side Fulham – and anything other than a win here would leave them in a very uncomfortable situation heading into December. This will be an attritional battle, possibly decided by a single goal.
Burnley vs Newcastle Prediction: Burnley 1-0 Newcastle
It’s fair to say that the Magpies carry a form advantage coming into this game. Recent wins against Watford and Bournemouth have taken them from a side anchored in the bottom three to one that could climb to thirteenth place with a win here. However, winning at Turf Moor could prove tricky. Whatever else they are, the Clarets are not a soft touch, and in a potential six-pointer like this one, there is no doubt that manager Sean Dyche will have impressed upon his side the importance of delivering on their potential. Cursed with one of the league’s weakest attacks, the visitors will find opportunities limited here.
Our recommended tip: Burnley score first
From 24 outings, these sides have a stingy 21 goals scored between them this season. There will not be a player on show with any more than two league scores in the current campaign to their name, and as a result the first goal could be pivotal; not least because it may well be the game’s only goal. Any Premier League manager would gladly pick Chris Wood or Ashley Barnes ahead of Magpies’ starting striker Salomon Rondon, though the two Burnley frontmen do need to start hitting the target more regularly, and starting here would be a welcome boost to their side’s survival hopes.
These clubs last met at the end of January at St James’ Park, with Burnley riding high in the table and the Magpies – as they are today – just a point from the relegation places. Kenedy, making his debut for the hosts, swung a corner onto the head of Jamaal Lascelles to put them ahead but, five minutes from the end, a Sam Vokes header was pushed onto the bar by home keeper Karl Darlow, who then was powerless to stop the ball bouncing back onto his head and into the net. In the Turf Moor meeting earlier in the season, a 74th-minute strike from Jeff Hendrick won the game 1-0 for the hosts.
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Players to watch: Johann Berg Gudmundsson & Kenedy
If Burnley are to start stringing together the kind of performances they need to avoid a season-long battle with the drop, Iceland international Gudmundsson is going to be pivotal. He leads the side in assists – by a long way – and has chipped in with a couple of goals of his own. Any left-footed set-piece the home side get will be a danger, whether in direct shooting range or as an opportunity to pick out one of the aerial threats among Dyche’s side.
Kenedy – whose Chelsea career appears to be at an end – rejoined Newcastle on loan in the summer, and he stands out a mile in a side where silky skills are at a premium. At times last season, the Brazilian seemed to be keeping his side in the Premier League single-handed. With his talent not in doubt, the only questions are over his temperament, which may be tested by the rough-housing he can expect from the home defence, and whether he can persuade his team-mates to be on his wavelength with any regularity.