Coming off of this first international break, Everton will look to keep their good form going when a tough Burnley team comes to Goodison Park. With no fans in the stands, the Blues struggled to assert themselves at home last season, but Rafa Benitez and his charges will look to secure the team's second home win in as many opportunities so far. They are facing a team that will be looking to jump-start their own season after picking up just a point through three games so far and sitting in 16th place.
Ahead of the game, we spoke to writer, podcaster, and Clarets fan Jonny Bentley:
RBM: To begin, Burnley have struggled out of the gates with just a single point through three matches, what is the feeling around Turf Moor regarding the start?
No panic. Performances in all three matches were fairly solid. The loss to Brighton came after a very strong opening 60 minutes and the real frustration was that the game hadn’t been killed off in that period.
Liverpool are Liverpool. The players put in a tremendous effort and could have nabbed a goal on another day. Inevitably, it just wasn’t meant to be. Again, it was another combative performance at home to Leeds. It looked like Burnley had done enough for the three points until they were undone by a slightly fortuitous equaliser from Patrick Bamford.
The points tally isn’t great but performances have passed the eye test.
RBM: With the long tenure of Sean Dyche at Burnley understood, how safe is his job should the Clarets continue to struggle as the season goes on? How much patience is there for him after all these years?
As safe as any job in the top flight.
New chairman Alan Pace is fighting tooth and nail to tie down Dyche for the long term. The American recognises the true impact that the manager has on this football club. Losing Dyche could potentially pull the plug on the football club’s entire operation.
He has gone through periods of turbulence but many put that down to the lack of backing that Dyche has been given. Last season, the club arguably entered the Premier League campaign in a weaker position than the previous one - losing Jeff Hendrick on a free and not adequately replacing him.
RBM: Scoring continues to be a real issue for this team; what is the missing piece that is keeping this outfit from performing more consistently on the offensive side of the ball?
A bit more creation within the group. Dwight McNeil is the only player who can consistently beat a man and create something out of nothing. Unfortunately, many teams have noted this and McNeil’s impact is sometimes diluted when opponents double up on him.
The Burnley team are set up to be effective off-the-ball and there is a big emphasis on organisation and shape, just like in a Jose Mourinho team. That means Dyche want players to step up and take charge of the situation themselves; there is no intricate attacking system that makes up a player’s mind.
The new signing of Maxwel Cornet will hopefully ease the burden on McNeil going forward.
RBM: Regarding Burnley’s new ownership, the reported additional debt, and their subsequent first transfer window in charge, what is being said about the job they’re doing thus far?
A lot of positivity.
There was a little bit of controversy regarding the way Alan Pace and company bought the club. The leveraged deal has placed some debt upon the name of the club but this type or arrangement is common practice within American business. It essentially limits the risk for the main shareholders. Just because you take out a loan, it doesn’t mean you are the antichrist.
Leveraged deal aside, Pace has been a breath of fresh air. He has always communicated strongly with the fans on social media. This is a far cry from the days of the previous ownership; they weren’t savvy on social media and they rarely talked to the press about their ambitions for the club.
Favorability on the new ownership is at an all-time high after a strong end to the transfer window. Cornet, a long-term target, was dragged over the line and Connor Roberts arrived as a late Deadline Day addition. The club spent almost £30-million on fresh recruits and it was the best transfer window in years.
RBM: How do you expect Burnley to set up on Monday and which players do you think can cause Everton the most problems?
The performance against Leeds was strong so I’d expect the same eleven to start. Roberts and Cornet will be pushing for first-team starts but Dyche likes to take his time before introducing fresh faces. It’s always good to let new signings sit on the sidelines at the start because it keeps them grounded. They will have to work hard for a starting place.
McNeil is the obvious main threat. He scored a stunning goal in this fixture last season. Chris Wood, too, is a key man to watch out for. He has over 10 Premier League goals in each of the last four seasons and he got off the mark against Leeds before the international break.
Predicted XI: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Brownhill, Westwood, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.
RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Monday’s game?
1-1. Everton have made a really strong start to the season. Rafa Benitez has gone back to basics and it’s working really well. 4-4-2: get the ball wide and whip crosses into the box. It’s not too dissimilar to the Burnley playbook! Burnley could be a tough challenge, though, as their defenders are accustomed to dealing with aerial balls. It should be a competitive affair.
Our thanks to Jonny for his time.