West Ham travel to Turf Moor on Saturday to face a Burnley side that sit rock bottom of the Premier League without a win to their name.
The Hammers are looking to follow up an assured victory over QPR by claiming their first back-to-back wins of the season against the promoted outfit, but it is not expected to be a comfortable afternoon.
Sam Allardyce’s side have made a very impressive start to the season, winning three of their first seven Premier League matches – they won just three of their opening 20 last term – and another victory could potentially take them into the Champions League positions.
They have failed to beat Burnley in their last three league meetings, though, and the return of their star striker Danny Ings should provide them with a massive boost.
Sean Dyche’s side’s previous two league games at Turf Moor have ended 0-0 – they have never had three consecutive goalless draws at home in the top flight – so Ings’ return has come at just the right time.
West Ham on the other hand have been in rich goal scoring form with 12 to their name – bettered only by Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton. The Hammers have, though, scored six goals from set-piece situations this season which is more than any other Premier League side.
While Burnley’s forwards have failed to find the net – they have only three goals in seven league matches – Diafra Sakho has scored in all five starts for West Ham in all competitions. If the striker scores again on Saturday he will join Carlton Cole as the only Irons player to have scored in five successive Premier League matches.
He and Enner Valencia, who has returned injury free from international duty with Ecuador, are likely to lead the line for the Hammers. They and the home side’s Ings could be instrumental in the outcome of the result, but as Ings has been out for a while with a hamstring injury it may take him some time to regain his form.
Stewart Downing is another who could be key in the match; he has been given a new lease of life playing in a central attacking role and has actually created as many chances (22) as Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas.
His passing and delivery from set pieces, which the Hammers have been devastating from this campaign, is going to be vital at Turf Moor as Burnley are usually defensively sound and very hard to break down.
Mark Noble is another who could return to the side and make his 200th Premier League appearance after a spell out injured. He and Alex Song in the middle of the park will be required to win the midfield battle, breaking up the play and turning defence into attack.
This is a match that West Ham will be expected to win but would probably have lost last season. This time around though, during a time where Allardyce is calling on his players for consistency, they may have the grit and determination to grind out a result.
Burnley will not want to allow the Hammers time to pass the ball and a high pressing tactic could pay dividends. Both sides will want to get off to a quick start and, despite West Ham’s firepower, I think they will be held to a 1-1 draw.
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