BURNLEY host Tottenham on Saturday evening in the Premier League. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Burnley v Tottenham | Saturday 7th March 2020, 17:30 | Sky Sports
When you’ve just had the week Tottenham have gone through, Burnley away is probably not the trip you want to be making on a wet Saturday in early March.
Four defeats in a row, injuries to key attacking players and off-field incidents to respond to is probably making Jose Mourinho turn greyer by the day but the wise old head has been through worse. Much worse.
There’s no doubting however that he needs to galvanise his troops to try to stop feeling sorry for themselves and also stop the rot. With the second leg of the Champions League last 16 tie with Leipzig to come in midweek, a positive result heading into that is important should Spurs stand any chance of progressing in a tournament that served them so well last season in reaching the final.
Of course, a win at Turf Moor will boost Tottenham’s chances of qualifying for Europe’s elite competition next season too but they should expect a tough encounter against in-form Burnley. The Clarets, despite losing first choice strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes to respective injuries, have turned the corner in a season that, before Christmas, looked to be one of struggle.
Only Liverpool have more points over the last six Premier League games than Burnley’s total of 14 and with 38 in the bag across the season, Burnley are surely safe and can pit their wits at trying to gate-crash a European spot.
Burnley have their style critics but there’s no doubt that Shaun Dyche has done an incredible job at the club to repeatedly steer them clear of the drop zone and now become an established Premier League side.
The 4-4-2 system is built upon hard work, discipline and stubbornness but it works. The low-block off the ball aims to frustrate opponents and stop balls being threaded through to attacking players in the final third so Tottenham’s movement will need to be clever here.
The bookies have responded negatively to Tottenham’s current plight, so much so that you could consider this group of players, no Harry Kane or Son aside, as overpriced to win the game at the best price of 37/20 at the time of writing. It’s not something I will be backing however. I
t’s well documented how poor Spurs’ away form has been for a long time now and whilst one or two individuals are playing well at the moment, I simply don’t think they’re working well enough as a collective to be winning games. Mourinho is trying different formations and different players to try and turn the tide so that unpredictability is not making me favour the away team here.
Scrappy showdown awaits
Instead, a look to the stats always helps find an angle when games are tight to call on the outrights. I’ve picked out before that Tottenham games have become rather scrappy in nature or at least more aggressive and that’s reflected in the tackle stats for their recent games.
In the Lillywhites’ last nine domestic matches, the successful tackles average for both teams combined has been a whopping 44 with the 35 mark landing in all nine fixtures. On that basis, the 35+ match tackles with SkyBet at 11/10 is one of the bets of the season for me.
The reverse game saw 34 tackles and that was a 5-0 hammering so with this game expected to much, much tighter than that I think that price simply has to be snapped up as a decent bit of value.
Jay-Rod to make his mark
When I was analysing that game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, one player that did stick out for Burnley on a dreadful day for them was striker Jay Rodriguez. The Burnley born lad, now in his second stint at the club, managed four shots in that match and registered one on-target.
Throughout his career, Rodriguez never been afraid to get efforts away on goal and since the aforementioned injuries to Barnes and Wood, he and Matej Vydra have had to step up to the mark which I think ‘Jay Rod’ has done.
I touched on the shot number in that game and delving deeper into the 30 year-old’s recent appearances uncovers an impressive record of at least one shot in target in each of his last six matches. The 10/11 on him to land one again in this game – again with SkyBet – particularly appeals, especially considering how many shots on goal Spurs’ defence are allowing currently (15+ in five of their last eight).
You can get 9/2 on Rodriguez having two or more which I’ll be having a few quid on myself but the one or more is of my best bets for this contest with the price available considering larger than other bookies offering the same line. The bonus for this bet is that Rodriguez takes penalties so if the Clarets are awarded a spot-kick and he is on the pitch, we’re in with a decent chance in that situation alone.
Personally speaking, I’m delighted that Jay-Rod is back at his boyhood club and playing well. I really enjoyed watching him, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert link-up as a front three back in 2014 as Southampton pushed for Europe. Not many players would have recovered in the same way that Rodriguez has done from his horrific ACL injury that season, which put an end to his hopes of representing England at the World Cup, to be back playing at the top level again.