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Three talking points as Everton fell to defeat at home to Burnley

Jake Jackman

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Everton

Everton fell to a disappointing home defeat to Burnley on Sunday as their underwhelming start to the season continues. The visitors took the lead thanks to a great team goal that culminated in a composed finish from Republic of Ireland international Jeff Hendrick. Although the defending was questionable, it was an excellent goal for the Clarets and underlined that they do have a lot of technical ability in their team to complement the aggression. Here are three things learnt from the match at Goodison Park:

If you buy mid-table players, you become a mid-table team

During the summer, Everton received a lot of praise for their recruitment with some pundits tipping them for a Champions League push. Their big-name signings included Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson all of whom finished in the bottom half of the table last season. Although they shone in their respective teams, it is a huge ask for all three to step-up at the same time to start for an Everton side with ambition.

The biggest problem with the club’s summer transfer window was their failure to replace Romelu Lukaku. It was impossible for the Toffees to keep hold of the Belgian, but they had lots of time to source suitable replacements. The fact that Oumar Niasse was their striker against Burnley is a problem, as it is well known that the 27-year-old hasn’t been a part of Ronald Koeman’s plans since the Dutchman took charge. With every passing game, their recruitment is looking worse and worse.

Burnley have solved their away blues

Last season, the Clarets struggled on the road and didn’t post their first away win until the final days of April. They have already accumulated eight points from their first four away matches of the season against Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton. Even the most optimistic of Burnley supporters would have expected four losses.

Sean Dyche is proving himself to be one of the best pound-for-pound managers in the Premier League and he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. Burnley, like Dyche, are seen as unfashionable by the national media, but that won’t concern them. It was a typically determined performance from the players and the three points has seen them climb to 6th in the table. They won’t be getting carried away, but they have started well and look at home in the top flight.

Koeman doesn’t know his best team

The constant rotation hasn’t helped Everton as they have yet to find their rhythm on the pitch. The Europa League has been a hindrance in that regard as they made three changes from the team that beat Bournemouth last weekend. It was an odd decision to start Nikola Vlasic ahead of Davy Klaassen, as the Dutchman was signed for big money and dropping him for an untested teenager won’t help his confidence.

A big problem with Everton’s recruitment was that they signed a lot of players that operate in similar positions. It was always going to be a near impossible task to fit Davy Klaassen, Wayne Rooney, Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the same eleven. Only one of them started on Sunday and that was Sigurdsson. Even though he was the only one in the line-up, he was still used in a wide position and he isn’t going to be effective in that role. Koeman needs to settle on a first eleven or the results will continue to underwhelm.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Burnley

Sold by Everton in January, Aaron Lennon is enjoying resurgence with Burnley

The 31-year-old has quickly adjusted to life at Turf Moor.

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Photo: Getty Images

In Thursday night’s tightly-fought Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea, the Clarets came within touching distance of eclipsing Arsenal in sixth position.

It has been a remarkable charge up the table for Burnley, and their stunning season is mirrored by the transfer of Aaron Lennon from Everton to Turf Moor.

The 31-year-old winger left Goodison Park in search of regular playing time, and has since slotted into a squad far more ambitious than Everton.

When Lennon was bought by the Clarets in late January, Burnley were just three points ahead of the Toffees. But after Thursday’s match against Chelsea, Burnley now sit in seventh position, a massive ten points in front of Everton.

It is clear that Lennon made the smart move in the winter when leaving struggling Everton for buoyant Burnley.

The ten-point gap between the two sides is due mainly to a superb five-match winning run engineered by Burnley. Lennon had started all five of those matches, contributing two assists along the way along with a host of bright, attacking displays.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Cruelly for the Merseyside club, Burnley’s scintillating spell was kickstarted by a 2-1 win over Everton, in which Lennon played all 90 minutes and earned an impressive WhoScored match rating of 7.3.

To make matters worse for Everton, Lennon’s match rating eclipsed both Theo Walcott’s and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s, both players who were preferred in front of the 31-year-old at Goodison Park.

Although Burnley’s fine spell was narrowly ended by Chelsea in a 2-1 defeat, the club still harbours an outside chance at an audacious sixth-place finish. Burnley faces three sides in the bottom half of the table in the form of Bournemouth, Brighton, and Stoke City, as well as a massive match at the Emirates to face Arsenal.

With Arsenal enduring a terrible run of form in 2018, Burnley will fancy their chances away at the Gunners, and former Everton winger Aaron Lennon will surely be at the heart of their lethal attack.

If Lennon can achieve a record-sixth placed finish with the Clarets, he will show the Everton hierarchy just how wrong they were in letting him leave in January.

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Steven Defour wanted by Premier League clubs, David Moyes and West Ham makes sense

The West Ham boss tried to sign Defour whilst Everton manager in 2009.

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It looks as though Burnley might have a job on keeping hold of their Belgian midfielder Steven Defour this summer. His agent has confirmed this week that there is interest in the player from other teams in the Premier League, as reported by the Burnley Express.

Reports in Belgium have echoed these sentiments. Het Laatste Nieuws report that two mid-table English clubs are chasing the Burnley star this summer.

So who could it be?

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 31: West Ham United manager David Moyes gestures during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Southampton at London Stadium on March 31, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Plenty of teams in the past have been linked with a move for Defour. The Belgium international was once considered one of Europe’s top talents. However, the time teams such as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were interested in the 29-year-old has passed.

But one man who has wanted Defour previously is West Ham manager David Moyes. The Scotsman was in charge at Everton in 2009 when the Toffees tried to sign Defour. As reported by the Telegraph Moyes had decided Defour was the man he wanted to improve Everton’s midfield. A bid of £9 million was lodged but the Merseyside club would not meet Defour’s then-club Standard Liege’s £12 million valuation. The Guardian later reported that Standard would only sell the player ii they failed to qualify for the Champions League that season. They did qualify and Defour remained for two more seasons before joining Porto.

Defour has now established himself in Premier League football. He was in great form this season before knee cartilage surgery in February cut his campaign short.

Standard’s Steven Defour (L) and Gent’s Milos Maric (R) fight for the ball during the Belgian first league football match AA Gent vs Standard, on May 16, 2009 in Gent, last day of the Jupiler Pro League Belgian football championship. Standard wins 0-1. Anderlecht and Standard will play a test match to appoint the winner of the championship. AFP PHOTO/ BELGA / BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

West Ham need central midfield reinforcements. It is one area of the field that they are currently short and Moyes would surely jump at the chance to finally work with Defour.

Whilst the league table suggests Burnley is the place to stay, Defour would certainly struggle to reject a move to West Ham. The chance to play in London and try turnaround the fortunes for the Hammers will undoubtedly appeal to the 52-cap Belgian.

If Premier League clubs are keen on Defour, it will be no surprise if one of them is West Ham this summer. Moyes might finally get his hands on his man.

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Tottenham Hotspur star Georges-Kevin N’Koudou must now take Burnley chance

The £11m winger is currently on loan at Burnley.

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It was one of the longest and most drawn out transfers of the 2016 summer transfer window. Finally, on the 31st August that year, Tottenham managed to secure the signature of Marseille winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou on a five-year deal.

ESPN reported that Spurs spent around £11 million on the winger, with Clinton N’Jie also heading the opposite direction on loan.

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Kazaiah Sterling (L) and Tottenham Hotspur’s French midfielder Georges-Kevin N’Koudou (R) embrace on the pitch after the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Apoel Nicosia at Wembley Stadium in London, on December 6, 2017. Tottenham won the game 3-0. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

The deal was first put together much earlier in the summer but the two clubs struggled to agree on the specifics. It left N’Koudou in limbo and out of sync when he finally did arrive at Spurs.

But simply put, this deal has not been a success. N’Koudou has played just 23 times for Spurs in the 18 months he had with the club before being loaned out in January. The 23-year-old headed to Burnley until the end of the season, as Sean Dyche looked to freshen up his wide options.

However, the move to Burnley has been a slow burn so far as well. Finally, he got his chance against West Brom at the weekend. With Johann Berg Gudmundsson sidelined with a calf injury N’Koudou was handed his first start by Dyche. It was in fact, his first start in the Premier League with either Spurs or Burnley.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Burnley player Georges-Kevin N’Koudou reacts during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on January 31, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It was a big chance for the talented attacker and he performed well in the game. Whilst not upping any roots he will have surely demonstrated to the Burnley boss he can be relied upon.

What N’Koudou needs now is a run of games in the first-team. His future at Tottenham is currently looking bleak, with such minimal first-team action and the club improving their wide options all the time.

What is needed is a good run of form at Burnley to show Mauricio Pochettino and co that he can hack it in the Premier League.

But if the West Brom start proves to be a flash in the pan, expect to see N’Koudou on his way out of Spurs in the summer.

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