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Allardyce defiant despite poor form ahead of Burnley trip

It’s three months since Everton won away and Burnley won at home - will that change on Saturday?

Everton v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The ‘beast from the east’ has caused havoc across the UK this week, but heavy snow and freezing temperatures aren’t the only reason why a frosty reception awaits Sam Allardyce on Saturday.

Toffees fans are thoroughly fed up with how this season has panned out, with much of their frustration now being aimed squarely at the manager.

The former England boss isn’t totally to blame for Everton’s struggles this season. But the woeful football on offer allied with some of his ludicrous comments in press conferences has left some fans, at best, frustrated and, at worst, utterly disconnected from the club.

Last weekend’s miserable display at Watford was case in point. Allardyce is right to point out that Everton’s away form has been poor for more than a year. However, there is no excuse for such a negative, unadventurous approach as deployed at Vicarage Road.

As a result there are very few - if any - Evertonians left who want Allardyce to continue beyond this season.

Allardyce is used to such criticism and as such has developed a thick skin. His relaxed, almost indifferent demeanour suggests he isn’t losing sleep over a few groans from the terraces.

It all adds up to a unhappy marriage we are stuck with for at least the next three months, during which time the team still need to pick up enough points to ensure a respectable league finish.

That Everton still sit ninth despite enduring a miserable season highlights just how weak the Premier League is beyond the top six. Saturday’s opponents Burnley haven’t won a league game since December yet remain in seventh.

Ill-balanced squad or not this Everton side could - and should - be doing much better.

The opposition

Burnley rapidly became everyone’s second favourite team in the autumn thanks to a remarkable run of form that surged the Clarets up towards the European places.

Their 1-0 win at Goodison Park in October lifted the Lancashire club up to sixth, a position they regularly occupied until a dip in form over Christmas.

As mentioned earlier in the preview, despite going 11 games without a win since early December Burnley remain in seventh place - though Everton could draw level with them with a win on Saturday.

Everton v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Huge credit has to go to manager Sean Dyche for fashioning a well-organised, resilient team on a modest budget.

Only Swansea have scored fewer than Burnley’s 22 this season, but only Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City have conceded less than Dyche’s side this campaign. They are undoubtedly the Premier League kings of the 1-0 win.

His excellent work at Turf Moor led to Dyche being linked with the Everton job following Ronald Koeman’s sacking in October.

Swansea City v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Dyche admitted he was flattered to be linked with the job but remained focused on the task in hand - a lesson perhaps for Marco Silva who found himself under a similar spotlight while at Watford.

Saturday’s game will also see a few familiar faces return to their old clubs. Michael Keane will make his first appearance back at Turf Moor since leaving for £25m last summer. Though I doubt he expected to go there with his old side above his current team in the table.

Aaron Lennon went the other way in January and will surely be treated to a warm reception by the Toffees fans.

Team news

Sam Allardyce has confirmed both Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines will be included in the squad after injury.

Phil Jagielka is also back in training and will be assessed ahead of the game at Turf Moor.

The game has come to soon for Ramiro Funes Mori though, with the defender likely to play another U23 game before he is considered for a first-team return.

Projected starting XI

Pickford, Baines, Jagielka, Keane, Coleman, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Davies, Bolaise, Walcott, Tosun.

Final word

Though we all want this season to end, those points don’t win themselves and Everton need to get themselves to a decent total before they can start to plan for next year.

Though Turf Moor has been a tricky place to go this season Burnley are struggling for form and the team should set out to go for the win.

Sadly, with such a negative manager in charge I’m expecting another ‘keep it tight and hope for the best’ type performance, with one goal either way likely to be decisive.