Premier League Preview: Burnley
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on August 2, 2016
Predicted league finish: 15th
Burnley are the cream of the crop in terms of this years newly promoted sides, with a triumphant Championship campaign still fresh in their players memories, confidence should be brewing. Last season marked an impressive feat for the football club and its loyal manager Sean Dyche; promotion immediately after a relegation from the top flight is an achievement on its own but the fashion in which Burnley achieved this makes it far more notable to fans everywhere. Dyche’s men claimed the Championship title, finishing joint top in terms of goals scored and a very respectable second in goals conceded. However the promising signs do not end here, they also showed extremely impressive away form, firing in more goals than any of the other sides on their travels; this led to them only losing 3 times away from home all season. It will be of paramount importance to Burnley’s top flight chances to continue this away form as quite frankly, its where most newly promoted sides struggle most. When you combine all of this with the Premier League experience possessed by Dyche, who was unlucky to get relegated by only a 3 point margin in 2014/15, its perfectly reasonably to expect Burnley to stay up next year and have a solid season.
For newly promoted teams, the summer before their bid for survival is like stepping out of the Cauldron and into the fire, with top teams trying to prize away the talent they so desperately need to keep hold of and key signings being pivotal to squad depth and quality. Hull have displayed the footballing equivalent of a car crash during the transfer window, with the gaping chasm between owner and fans growing ever larger, Steve Bruce resigning and multiple vital payers lost; Diame seems to be the next candidate to abandon ship. However Burnley’s business thus far is juxtaposed to that of their fellow newly promoted rivals. By keeping hold of their goal machine and terrifyingly pacey marksman, Andre Gray and their Welsh dragon of a target man (Sam Vokes) they have preserved their attacking threat which led to a 72 goal season last year for the club. They have also retained the services of England International Tom Heaton between the sticks; a man with Premier League experience; 2014/15 marked an incredible season for Burnley’s stopper who won many top tier plaudits.
Admittedly, Burnley haven’t made as many signings as they would have liked to, Sean Dyche has recently claimed that “The market is challenging,” and for a club of Burnley’s stature in today’s mega buck market, this is not a difficult point to comprehend. Despite this, they have successfully signed the Charlton duo of Pope and Gudmundsson, the former being a young and promising keeper, presumably a back up for Heaton and the latter being a winger who greatly impressed during what was an awe inspiring Euro 2016 for Iceland. These signings display the sort of sensible and considered use of the market Burnley have come to be associated with. Their club record fee is believed to be a staggeringly low £6 million for Gray and this really does say it all, Dyche is a modern master of the shoe string budget and has built a tight knit squad with plenty of talent to boast. The window so far should please Burnley fans, impress neutrals and worry opponents like Hull. With Irish International midfielder Hendrick still being rumoured as a target for The Clarets, good times look set to continue at Turf Moor.
As a team, Burnley are very direct, with long passes aplenty and Sam Vokes towering above opposition defenders to knock the ball down to the livewire Gray. This setup fits the Premier League like a hand to a glove and is directly comparable to Leicester’s philosophy. Dyche also favours a 4-4-2 with an emphasis on defensive solidarity and a pacey counter attack, this style of play is above all else very successful and grinds out result after result. This tactic should be very employable away from home as Burnley can rock up at big stadiums and sit back, creating the odd chance on the break and staying defensively sound. The existence of a set in stone philosophy at Burnley is quintessential to their bid to beat the drop, it has allowed the creation of a very well bonded squad, in which everyone knows their role/responsibility like the back of their hand. This should transfer to very professional performances and consistency.
This key feature is exactly what Middlesborough lack, their class is undoubted but their manager still needs to find his best starting 11 and formation. Other clubs like Sunderland have the same issue, in this case the relatively late changing of a manager could hinder their readiness for the dawn of the 2016/17 campaign. This should give Burnley the upper hand as they can hit the ground running and gain an early advantage over their rivals The decimation of Hull is also of infinite use to The Clarets as Hull have virtually volunteered themselves into one of the 3 relegation spots. This leaves Burnley in a position where they only need to out perform 2 of the 19 remaining teams, my money would be on them finishing an impressive 15th as sides like Swansea and Bournemouth are set to struggle.
Saturday the 13th of August marks an incredibly important date for the club, with an opening fixture of Swansea, Burnley have a chance to show their worth and gain an early lead on a potential rival. Swansea play a possession based game which should play into Dyche’s hands, with Grays pace possibly being deadly against a slightly laboured back 4. Burnley then have Liverpool and Chelsea, so points at home to Swansea is at the preeminence of Burnley’s start to top tier life, else they could be facing a collapse of confidence and belief. Evidently, survival for Dyche’s men is the all important goal and will be a challenging one to attain, however I personally back Dyche to inspire his players to overcome these vast array of challenges and keep his squad brimming with motivation.