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It may be early days in Rafa Benitez’s reign at Goodison Park, but there are positive signs that Everton are heading in the right direction. With seven points from their opening three games, The Toffees can move level on points with Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool at the top of the league with a win over winless Burnley on Monday night.
Granted, they have not faced the most challenging of opponents in their opening three games, but it makes for a nice change of pace after a disappointing end to last season that saw them win just three of their last 12 league games.
Monday 20:00 – Everton v Burnley
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
Burnley, on the other hand, find themselves in a precarious position with only Newcastle and Norwich below them in the table. Sean Dyche’s side picked up just one point from their opening six games last season and eventually stumbled to a 17th-placed finish. A similar start to this season would leave them in a very dangerous position, in what looks to be a far closer relegation battle than last term.
The Clarets were many people’s candidates to go down this season and they need to end their winless streak soon if they wish to avoid being dragged into a dogfight. They will find it difficult at Everton however, despite winning there last time out. Rafa’s boys appear to have rediscovered something of a feel-good factor under the new boss and should pick up a third victory in four league games.
Brazil’s flavour of the month Richarlison will be expected to pick up the slack in the possible absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who could miss out through a broken toe. Richarlison scored and assisted in an excellent opening-day performance against Southampton, but has registered two relatively forgettable performances in Everton’s two recent away games against Leeds and Brighton.
He will be main attacking threat for The Toffees if Calvert-Lewin misses out and needs to quickly rediscover his opening-day form to help Everton continue their excellent start to the season. His tally of seven Premier League goals last season was simply not good enough for a forward who cost roughly £40m and he needs to find the back of the net with much greater regularity – especially, in home games against the likes of Burnley.
However, Richarlison enjoyed a successful summer at the Olympics and the Copa America, finishing as top-scorer as Brazil retained Olympic gold in Tokyo. He also scored for Brazil at the Copa America in a routine 4-0 win over Peru. He needs to bring his international form to the club stage and showed glimpses of doing that against Southampton. He should flourish against The Clarets.
Burnley’s goalscoring record at this early stage of the season is predictably poor. Only Norwich and Arsenal have scored fewer goals than them, while Wolves were the only other club in the league to score two goals or fewer until Saturday.
Burnley have recorded just nine shots on target in the league so far – only Norwich have recorded fewer – and are unlikely to add too many shots to that tally on Monday evening. They have yet to record more than 35% possession in a game this season and are unlikely to improve on that record either.
Burnley failed to score in their only other away game so far this season when they went down to a comfortable 2-0 defeat against Liverpool, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they suffered a similar result in the city on Monday night.
Tarkowski is one of two Burnley players to find the back of the net this season, but he is also one of the likeliest candidates to go into the referee’s notebook on Monday night. Only Ashley Westwood received more yellow cards than Tarkowski for Burnley last season, with Tarkowski topping the chart in the 2019/20 season.
The centre half has already been booked once this season and was booked in Burnley’s trip to Everton towards the end of last season.
He will be involved in a physical battle with Calvert-Lewin for much of Monday night’s game and will have to contend with a pacey Everton attack. It is not inconceivable that he will end up in the Martin Atkinson’s bad books at Goodison Park.
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