Burnley are always going to be up against it at this level and they are being tipped for another relegation battle. They managed to avoid the drop for the first time in their history and they did it with relative comfort. Although they finished in 16th, they never looked like they would be dragged into the bottom three thanks to their incredible home form.
They won ten of their matches at Turf Moor including an impressive victory over Liverpool. At home, they were excellent and worthy of their Premier League status. However, the same can’t be said about their performances away from home. Throughout the season, they won only one match on the road and that came during the closing weeks of the season. It is unlikely that they will repeat their home record from last season, which means improvement away is needed for them to remain in the league once again.
Supporters will be disappointed that they are being tipped to struggle once again, but that was always going to be the case. Fortunately for them, Burnley under Sean Dyche thrive when they have the tag of underdogs. They have an excellent spirit within the squad, while the team is greater than the sum of its parts.
A couple of notable departures could hinder them, but they have shown in the past that they have an impressive knack of dusting themselves down in order to go again. It is going to be another long slog for the Clarets. Another season of consolidating their place in the division would be a huge success.
How has their summer gone?
Unfortunately for Burnley, the headline news has been focused on who has left the club, rather than those arriving at Turf Moor. Michael Keane left early in the window to join Everton for a fee worth up to £30 million. It would have been difficult to turn down those terms, but he will be huge miss for the first team. They had a good defensive record last season and the loss of Keane will make it hard to repeat. Andre Gray is another player to move on for a significant fee, while Joey Barton and George Boyd have also both left the club. The Clarets’ squad looks a lot weaker than it did 12 months ago.
Jonathan Walters and Phil Bardsley both arrive from Stoke City to provide experience. Burnley are not going to attempt to play free-flowing football and these two will add grit and determination to the team. They should fit in well. The other two additions of Jack Cork and Charlie Taylor are more exciting, as both possess good technical attributes. However, the club haven’t replaced Keane at centre-back and if they fail to do that, it is difficult to see them doing well this season.
The Clarets have had a decent pre-season as they have built up fitness and impressed in a couple of the matches. Their final match against Hannover was abandoned due to crowd trouble and that could prove to be damaging in the short term, as Sean Dyche would have been using it to help him select the eleven for the opening day of the season.
Manager: Sean Dyche
Sean Dyche has done an excellent job with Burnley and he perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves as he is at an unfashionable job. Eddie Howe is seen as the best young English coach, but Dyche is doing similar things at Turf Moor and being overlooked. He is beginning to be pigeonholed and it could be that a move to another club is needed to ensure that doesn’t happen.
It is clear that he is a good motivator as the players work their socks off for him on a weekly basis. He demands a lot of his players, but hard work alone isn’t responsible for his success. Dyche is a good tactician and sets his teams up well defensively. They are difficult to beat and that is a testament to their manager. If Burnley manage to stay up again, he will surely get the credit that he deserves.
How could the Clarets line-up this season?
They have a small squad and that means they are unlikely to change their starting eleven much unless they are forced to do so. Tom Heaton is a huge presence in goal, while Ben Mee is going to have to step in in the absence of Keane.
Jack Cork and Jeff Hendrick could form a good midfield partnership. The former arrives as a key player and it will be interesting to see if he can do well in the role. The loss of Andre Gray is a blow, with his depature shifting the focus on to Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes when it comes to putting the ball into the back of the net.
Who is Burnley’s best fantasy football option?
Tom Heaton was the best goalkeeper in the game last season, due to his clean sheets coupled with his incredible number of saves.
The departure of Keane should mean that more shots will be allowed on his goal and if he is on form, he could once again be one of the best keepers in the game.
That said, the loss of their best centre back is also likely to lead to fewer clean sheets, so he should be approached with caution.
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Premier League Verdict
As stated in the introduction, Burnley are facing a difficult battle once again and they will be near the bottom of the division.
They are one of the main contenders for relegation and it can be argued they are weaker than last season. Michael Keane has left a huge hole in their defence, while Joey Barton will be a loss around the dressing room. The sale of Andre Gray close to the new season will also be damaging.
They need to spend money before the transfer window closes, especially on their defence as it currently looks like one of the worst in the league. The Clarets will work hard and never give up, but that might not be enough.