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Talking Tactics

Westwood passes will test open Everton defence

Adrian Clarke 3 Dec 2020
Talking Tactics Ashley Westwood

Adrian Clarke says Burnley's best creator can condemn Toffees to a fifth defeat in six matches

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 11.

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The creativity of central midfielder Ashley Westwood will be pivotal if Burnley are to take advantage of a leaky Everton defence.

A 5-0 defeat at Manchester City was a rare off day in defence for Burnley, who know their lack of goals is a more concerning issue.

The Clarets have failed to spark as an attacking force, scoring only four times in nine Premier League matches.

Indeed, their one goal at Turf Moor this season came in their only win of the season, against Crystal Palace last month.

Wood's winner v Palace

The visit of Everton gives Burnley an opportunity to improve on their disappointing home record.

Everton are without a clean sheet since their opening-day victory at Tottenham Hotspur.

Only West Bromwich Albion and Fulham, with 18 and 19 respectively, have conceded more than Everton's 17 goals this season.

But to capitalise on their opponents' weakness and pick up a second successive home win, Burnley must find a way to be more creative.

Burnley chance comparison
Fewest chances created Fewest chances created/open play
Burnley 58 Burnley 51
Leicester 64 West Brom 57
Arsenal 65 Leicester 57
Newcastle 65 Arsenal 57

Burnley have created the fewest chances of all 20 top-flight teams.

However, 10 of their 58 opportunities have been regarded by Opta as "big chances", which indicates a lack of ruthlessness in their finishing.

Indeed, heading into Matchweek 11 only Sheffield United, with 5.71 per cent, have a lower shot conversion rate than the 6.35 per cent recorded by Burnley.

This drop from a 14.53 per cent conversion rate last season has really impacted Burnley's results.

Instead of scoring once every 79.5 minutes, the Clarets have waited 202.5 minutes for each goal in 2020/21.

Central defender James Tarkowski's seven shots is the third-highest total of any Burnley player and reflects their struggles in open play.

Westwood's creative threat

To exert their influence against a talented Everton side, Burnley need central midfielder Westwood to be a dominant figure.

The 30-year-old has been a consistent performer this season.

He has made twice the number of accurate passes into the final third of any team-mate.

And despite the team's struggles this term, Westwood has made 10 extra passes per 90 minutes compared to his average in 2019/20.

Burnley's midfielders 2020/21
Burnley rank 1st 2nd
Passes/90 Westwood 59.7 Brownhill 44.1
Succ. passes Westwood 434 Brownhill 290
Succ. passes opp. half Westwood 236 Brownhill 167
Succ. passes ending in final third Westwood 114 Brownhill 57
Chances created Westwood 12 McNeil 10

Westwood continues to outshine the highly-rated Dwight McNeil when it comes to creating chances.

With 12 key passes to his name, including nine from open play, Westwood's accurate distribution has become one of Burnley's main threats.

Given time and space, he is capable of picking out strikers Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez inside the box.

A vulnerable Everton side must be wary of Westwood if they are to avoid a fifth defeat in six matches.

Also in this series

Part 1: Runs of Raphinha can threaten resilient Chelsea
Part 2: Elneny and Gabriel key to stifling Spurs attack
Part 4: Sharp movement of Walcott will test Brighton

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