Elsewhere, Arsenal lead at Southampton:
Half-time: Burnley 0-0 Watford
McNeil powers over after Tarkowski keeps a Burnley free-kick alive but Mike Dean blows his whistle; all square at the interval. Now, go and grab that ice cream.
43 min: Watford waste another free-kick, sending a ball straight down the throat of Nick Pope. That’s child’s play for the Burnley goalkeeper. Sean Dyche will be reasonably pleased with this.
42 min: “Watching James Tarkowski reminds me of a great unknown that we might be able to solve in low-key matches: would some players be more useful in other positions?” muses Gary Naylor via Twitter. “I’d love to see Trent A-A in central midfield, Shane Long in central defence, Seamus Coleman up front.”
40 min: Watford fail to make the most of a free-kick from the right and are forced to rebuild. Burnley are yet to be truly tested.
36 min: Watford are not playing too much football – surrendering possession too cheaply, and too much for Nigel Pearson’s liking:
32 min: … Craig Dawson heads narrowly over! Tarkowski makes life difficult for the Watford defender but he still manages to get up and nod just over. Watford have had a flurry of half-decent chances but nothing too clear-cut, while Burnley hit a post through Vydra and Jay Rodriguez – rightly – had an effort chalked off for offside.
28 min: This isn’t a bad game, but the drinks break has created a bit of a lull. Deeney wins a foul off Tarkowski. Watford will swing it into the box from 35 yards …
26 min: “How about that crazy sequence?” asks J.R in Illinois about that chance a moment ago. “An ex-West Brom keeper crazily came out of his net. An ex-West Brom striker lobbed him and hit the post. The ball bounced to another ex-West Brom striker whose shot was cleared off the line by an ex-West Brom defender after the ex West Brom keeper crazily came out of his goal again. Up the Baggies!”
23 min: A welcome drinks break.
20 min: Vydra rattles a post! The Burnley striker races on to a through ball, Ben Foster comes flying out of goal and Vydra loops the ball over the Watford goalkeeper and towards goal. Rodriguez smacks the rebound goalwards but Craig Dawson hacks it off the line and then Brownhill skews wide. Watford get off the hook.
17 min: Rodriguez stings the palms of Foster! Burnley work an opening down the left, with Vydra supplying his strike-partner to his right. Rodriguez opts to shoot from 20 yards but, further to his right and arriving late into the box was an unmarked Josh Brownhill. In hindsight, he will maybe feel that shooting was not the best decision there.
16 min: Watford spurn another half-chance! McNeil is guilty of squandering possession and Sarr rampages down the right flank before picking out a cross. Danny Welbeck does the hard part, stealing the ball away from James Tarkowski but his touch is heavy and that enables Nick Pope to gather. The Burnley left-back, Charlie Taylor, was caught upfield because of the poor blind pass by McNeil and Sarr drove into acres of space before Welbeck fluffed his lines. Welbeck does look a little rusty here.
14 min: Jay Rodriguez heads home … but the flag is up! Brownhill plays a delicious cross into the box but the Burnley striker had strayed offside before powering a header beyond Ben Foster. Both teams have worked a couple of openings.
11 min: A communication mishap by Welbeck and Deeney, with the former taking the ball away from the Watford skipper, sees a promising move break down. Deeney did brilliantly in the first place, nodding a cross down for Welbeck. Tarkowski gets a toe to it but cannot trap the ball and Deeney looks to wind up for a shot but Welbeck ends up doing Burnley’s defending for them.
9 min: Rodriguez is flagged offside after latching on to Matt Lowton’s cross but Burnley are certainly beginning to gather some momentum.
7 min: Another Burnley chance – and Josh Brownhill should do better! The Burnley midfielder heads off target after meeting a wonderful cross by Dwight McNeil. It zoomed across to the back post where Brownhill had ghosted beyond full-back Adam Masina but his effort was poor and bobbled out for a goal-kick.
6 min: Rodriguez goes close! He forces Ben Foster into a smart save low down to his right after galloping on to a floated ball by Ashley Wood over the top of the Watford defence and smacks an effort goalwards. Craig Dawson, in particular, was caught cold. But Watford manage to hack it clear after the ball springs up in the air.
4 min: … Hughes picks out an unmarked Craig Dawson at the back post but the Watford defender goes for goal from an acute angle and heads it straight at Nick Pope, who comfortably gathers. Dawson was totally unmarked and would have been better off trying to nod it across in search of a team-mate or two.
3 min: Cork cuts across Deeney and Watford win a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Cleverley and Will Hughes are stood over it. Kabasele and co come up for it …
2 min: A typically low-key start. Watford wallop the ball back downfield after Burnley enjoy some early possession.
Kick-off is almost upon us. It is absolutely sizzling at Turf Moor, circa 31 degrees. Burnley trudge out of the tunnel, Watford, led by Troy Deeney, seemingly via the back door from another crevice.
Team news news: a combination of Burnley’s skeleton squad and injuries to top scorers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes means Sean Dyche again names two goalkeepers on the substitute bench. Burnley are unchanged despite a humbling 5-0 defeat to Manchester City, with Josh Brownhill, a January signing from Bristol City, again favoured in right midfield. As for Watford, Welbeck and Cleverley make their first starts under Nigel Pearson, with Doucouré and Pererya dropping to the bench.
A reminder you can, if you really want, join Paul Doyle for Arsenal’s trip to Southampton:
If you haven’t already spotted the glorious news: “The channel that shows Premier League games here in the US has decided to broadcast this game over the game involving Arsenal which they have put behind their paywall,” emails J.R. in Illinois. “I was surprised when I found that out but I’m no longer surprised now that I see Mike Dean (and his beard) will be reffing this game. Of the two noon kick-offs (6pm for you) I actually wanted to watch this one anyway. With David Luiz suspended and therefore unable to provide entertainment there’s no real reason to watch Arsenal …”
Watford’s final warm-up game ahead of the restart was against Brentford, for whom the Algerian winger Saïd Benrahma dazzled, notably fooling full-back Kiko Femenía:
Be it with back-heels, rainbow flicks or making the opposition look silly, few players outside the Premier League have made a bigger impression than Saïd Benrahma in the past couple of seasons. The Brentford winger boasts an endless box of tricks but he is more than just easy on the eye – he is approaching double figures in assists after equalling last season’s goal tally of 11 with eight Championship games to play. His speciality is sliding the ball through the legs of dazed defenders. “He could nutmeg a mermaid,” said Sam Saunders.
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Rodriguez, Vydra
Subs: Dunne, Bardsley, Peacock-Farrell, Thompson, Jensen, Long, Pieters, Thomas, Goodridge
Watford (4-2-3-1): Foster; Femenía, Kabasele, Dawson, Masina; Capoue, Hughes; Sarr, Cleverley, Welbeck; Deeney
Subs: João Pedro, Cathcart, Chalobah, Doucouré, da Silva Gomes, Pussetto, Gray, Pereyra, Mariappa
Referee: Mike Dean
VAR: Martin Atkinson
The Premier League may have returned a little over a week ago but has it really returned until Burnley have given Watford a runaround at Turf Moor? Exactly. Sean Dyche is reportedly considering departing the club at the end of the season but could yet guide his team to a very respectable top-half finish. Watford, scrapping for points, will have other ideas this evening, determined to build on an encouraging point at Leicester last weekend. Monday’s game at Manchester City was, of course, unfortunately overshadowed by that abomination of a ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ banner being flown overhead but this evening they have an opportunity to show what they’re really about and plan to project their “One Club For All” initiative, which includes an inclusion advisory group and Burnley FC in the Community, whose activities involve 33,000 people, 19% from a BAME background. “This club does a lot of work in the community and in local education projects, and we don’t want all our efforts undermined by a few people with an unacceptable message,” said Dyche.