Burnley broke their transfer record earlier this week to sign Chris Wood from Leeds United. It was crucial that they added a striker to their squad before the close of the transfer window after the sale of Andre Gray. Although it was a disappointment to lose the 26-year-old to a rival club in Watford, their purchase of last season’s Championship leading scorer could be seen as an upgrade. The New Zealand international is a different type of striker to the man he is replacing, but that should be seen as a good thing as he is better suited to Sean Dyche’s style of play.
They are seen as an unfashionable club in the Premier League, but they are embracing their reputation and playing a style that isn’t great to watch for the neutrals. Burnley are a hard-working team and prefer to play a direct style. During the opening game of the season, they had success of putting early crosses into the box and targeting set-pieces. The signing of Wood suggests they are going to continue to use this approach.
The Clarets played good football as they won promotion to the Premier League during the 2015/16 season and Gray was their focal point. His movement was clever and he had the pace to get in behind opposition defences. At that level, he looked to be a good finisher, but in hindsight, he often had a lot of time and space to work in. Last season, he wasn’t as effective and although he worked hard, he didn’t suit Burnley’s style.
Sam Vokes was a better fit for the system and Dyche quickly realised that. The prospect of partnering the Welshman with Wood is an exciting one. They might not produce the most scintillating football, but they will be effective and win games for the Clarets.
Wood nearly single-handedly carried Leeds United to the play-offs last season, as he scored an incredible 27 goals in the league. He has previously been a good Championship striker, but he managed to add consistency to his game and he will be hoping to bring that into the Premier League. It was his finishing that impressed most, as he could score with either foot or his head and it will be the latter that attracted Burnley to him. The 25-year-old cuts an imposing figure and doesn’t shirk from a battle. His competitiveness and work rate will allow him to transition nicely into the team at Turf Moor.
During the campaign, he won 38.57% of his aerial duels, which isn’t bad in a physical league like the Championship. The Premier League will be an easier division for him to dominate in the air. His goals against Brighton and Newcastle United will give him confidence that he can make the step up, as both teams are now in the top flight. The one area of his game he will need to work on is his passing, as he finished last season with a pass success rate of only 61.7%. He can’t afford to be as wasteful this season.
This signing looks to be a great fit for Burnley and there isn’t a better club for Wood to prove that he can cut it in the Premier League. The striker will be guaranteed lots of game-time and be used in a style that suits him down to the ground. A potential partnership with Sam Vokes is one that will worry Premier League defences as they will dominate in the air. It can be difficult to make the step up a division, but the New Zealand international should be a success at Turf Moor.