Whisper it quietly but both of these teams who pundits predicted to struggle are in 8th and 7th playing like established Premier League sides. Sean Dyche has shown he has been more than capable to cope with the loss of the likes of Keane, Barton and Gray. Dyche’s ability to be flexible and not bemoan the loss of these players shows a managerial maturity which is admired by many in the game.
Some may argue he has upgraded them and he took a well-informed gamble on Chris Wood who had been scoring freely in the Championship. Ben Mee who has outshone Keane this season and may soon be in competition for an England spot if he keeps up his recent form. Burnley epitomise that team unity is more important than big name individuals or expensive transfer fees.
Burnley will have to be wary of a Newcastle side who have a feel-good factor. Ask any Newcastle fan what has Rafa brought, they will mention 2 things-discipline and organisation. With rumours of a takeover leading more to optimism that the pragmatic Ashley era may finally end, Newcastle will have to translate this positive energy into a good performance.
Flat performances against Brighton and Huddersfield away means there needs to be an improvement on the road. With Joselu and Perez flattering to deceive and with Mitrovic back in contention, the former Chelsea boss will have a selection dilemma. Merino’s goal against Palace will lead to Rafa considering whether Merino and Shelvey can play together without the defensive shield of Hayden. Ciaran Clark will also be pushing for a recall but may find it tough following the clean sheet against Palace.
In terms of team news Chris Wood and Sam Vokes may be touch and go for Burnley and with them being a huge part of their style of play their absence may create its own problems. Whilst for Newcastle, Dwight Gayle is also likely to be pushing for a place on the bench having recovered from his calf strain. Gayle will be looking to rediscover his fantastic form from last year as he has been very underwhelming so far this year.
Previously this game would have been seen as a six-pointer but now it may be a contest for Europa League football.