Burnley are famed for their aggressive long-ball tactics but West Ham are perhaps the most suited team to limit their strengths and should record a win on Saturday.
The Irons head into the London Stadium clash in good form after only two defeats in their last 11 games including clean sheets in their last three.
Meanwhile Sean Dyche’s tough Burnley side will also be confident with their narrow defeat to Manchester United on Tuesday just their second defeat in eight games as they have battled back remarkably from a shocking start to the season.
Burnley actually have a terrific recent record against the hosts, winning four of the last five including the previous three without conceding a goal.
The 3-0 win at Turf Moor on November 9 2019 was a particular low-point in West Ham’s season and was part of a run of results that put paid to Manuel Pellegrini’s tenure as the Irons were bullied into submission. Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena started in the middle of defence that day in front of goalkeeper Roberto who endured a nightmare of a game.
Burnley have maintained the style of play that has served them so well since regaining promotion back in 2015/16, evidenced in the league-high 55.24 long balls they play per 90 in the Premier League, according to Wyscout.
They also compete in the most aerial duels per 90 with 45.35, just ahead of third-placed West Ham (40.88).
This is where the differentials play a part as both sides are clearly comfortable competing in the air, but how successful are they in winning these duels?
Well, the Irons are actually the second most successful in the Premier League behind only Everton, winning over half (51.1%) while Burnley only record a 46.5% accuracy ranking them in the bottom half.
West Ham are also sixth for defensive duel success in the division with 59.7%.
David Moyes’ side have three players in the top 30 for aerial duels per 90 with Tomas Soucek (third) and Michail Antonio (21st) joining the recently departed Sebastien Haller (fourth) in the list.
Haller’s exit will be a blow in both boxes with his height but Antonio will be his replacement and as the stat above suggests is not afraid of an aerial challenge.
Soucek is particularly handy in the air with the towering Czech recording an 81.25% aerial success rate in his own penalty area ranking him seventh in the league and showing he can combat whatever Burnley throw at him on Saturday.
Add his presence to the solid foundations of Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson and there is all the makings of a resolute side that can deal with the incessant long balls that Burnley will throw at them.
The Hammers played Everton on January 1 and contained the supreme aerial talents of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, keeping a clean sheet with Ogbonna and Soucek winning four headers and Dawson two (WhoScored), while they also kept out National League side Stockport County who threw everything they could at them.
All of this points to a convincing West Ham win on Saturday.
It may not be pretty and it may not be by a large scoring margin given Burnley’s defensive instincts and the fact that West Ham have not scored more than twice in a game since October 18.
But the Irons have all the trappings of a team that can confidently withhold the pressure and they can then let the supreme attacking talents of Said Benrahma and co to attack an ageing and slow Burnley defence.