A few years ago, football purists would have rolled their eyes at the thought of seeing Burnley vs Tottenham Hotspur. Sean Dyche was in one dugout, and Jose Mourinho/Antonio Conte/Nuno Espirito Santo would have been in the other.
This game would have been a contest between two immovable objects, with nobody applying the force. Not now.
In stark contrast to those times, these two teams have arguably two of the most progressive and exciting managers in world football right now- Vincent Kompany and Ange Postecoglou. Sure enough, both teams have been moulded in the shape of their managers and their games are must-watch affairs now.
Here’s the match preview and what can be expected from this game –
WHEN & WHERE?
Where: Turf Moor, Burnley.
When: Saturday, 2nd September 2023.
Time: 3 PM BST
Referee: Darren England.
Assistants: Simon Bennett & Dan Robathan.
Fourth official: James Bell.
VAR: John Brookes.
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.
Burnley will be missing Anass Zaroury, who continues to serve his suspension after being red-carded against Manchester City on the opening matchday of the season.
Jordan Beyer’s status will be one to keep an eye on. He sustained a thigh injury and could return to play some minutes against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup before appearing on the bench against Spurs.
Michael Obafemi and Darko Churlinov are both long-term absentees.
Tottenham will be sweating over the fitness of James Maddison. The Spurs’ creator-in-chief was taken off against Bournemouth in the 73rd minute and he has reportedly suffered a minor knee injury. Maddison makes the team tick so the manager will be hoping he is back fit to play a part against Burnley.
Besides Maddison, Rodrigo Bentancur, Ryan Sessegnon, and Bryan Gil remain long-term absentees.
What happens when two teams that play a similar style collide? The one with the better players and execution wins.
Kompany and Postecoglou don’t exactly mirror each other’s style of play, but the similarities are striking. Both like to dominate the ball, play in the opposition half, press ferociously to win the ball back and stress on possession retention instead of creating chaos by forcing vertical passes through the lines.
However, Tottenham showed against Manchester United that they are not a one-trick pony.
When United dominated the first half, they held the fort, countered on occasion and took advantage of a tiring United side to hit two knockout blows in the second half.
Burnley will need to be careful and remember the game is 90 minutes. Flying off the blocks in search of an early advantage is good, but then they would need to manage their intensity because Spurs will manage theirs perfectly.
Furthermore, Burnley will be hurting after losing 1-3 at home to Aston Villa. It is only natural that the players will be driven to correct their wrongs but they will need to be wary of playing into Spurs’ hands with their over-eagerness.
Villa showed the blueprint to beat Burnley, absolutely running them ragged on the counterattack while Kompany’s men were reduced to two shots on target desire 57% possession.
Spurs have the players to do the same.
That brings us to the next section-
Connor Roberts absolutely bossed the Championship last season when his role was simplified by Kompany. He transformed into a rampaging fullback, with 10 goal contributions from right-back his best season in his career so far.
Premier League has been a wake-up call. Against higher-quality opponents, Roberts spends most of the time in his own half, either trying to defend his wing or trying to play out from the back with little success.
Rampaging full-backs are a big part of why Burnley dominated the Championship last season. Their wingers cut inside and fullbacks overlap to create overloads and increase passing options.
That has gone missing from Roberts’ game.
Against Tottenham, he will be up against Destiny Udogie. The man from Udinese has taken to Premier League like duck to water and looked unfazed against Bournemouth as well.
Ben Davies playing the League Cup game midweek means Udogie is certain to start against Roberts. The Welshman will need to start brightly and push Udogie backwards in the battle of the flank.
When looking at raw stats, this has been Son’s poorest start to the season. However, dive deeper, and it is clear that after years of scoring loads of goals for no team success, he is finally part of an attacking machine which he makes tick, instead of being the whole machine himself.
Heung-min Son is yet to record a goal or assist this season in competitive action, but the havoc he creates in the left half-space has proven to be a nightmare for defenders.
He picks up dangerous spaces in that area and due to the floating presence of James Maddison and Co., finds himself with ample room and time to create plays. He made four key passes against Bournemouth and against Burnley, his battle against Connor Roberts will be one to watch.
Gone are the days when teams could shut down the supply to Harry Kane and Son to finish off Spurs. Now, Roberts will need to be aware of threats from all sides.
Does he follow Son when he comes inside? Who marks Udogie on the overlap then? What about the midfielder breaking lines from the deep in Pape Matar Sarr?
Son’s own stats are the worst they’ve ever been, but his overall play and his side’s attacking threat mean he’ll hardly be complaining.
Burnley predicted starting lineup: Trafford; Roberts, Al-Dakhil, O’Shea, Delcroix; Benson, Cullen; Berge, Koleosho, Amdouni; Foster.
Spurs predicted starting lineup: Vicaro; Porro, Van de Ven, Romero, Udogie; Bissouma, Sarr, Son; Maddison, Kulusevski, Richarlison.