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How are the newly promoted teams faring so far?

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Survival is always the ultimate aim for a team coming up from the Championship to the promised land of the Premier League. Nothing is more important for a newly promoted team than finishing in 17th position or above and consolidating themselves in the top tier of English football. This season, Leicester City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers made the jump back into the Premier League, and are all separated by just three points after their opening four fixtures. However, despite similar points totals, each team will have a very different outlook on the season based on the opening games.

Burnley

W:0 D:2 L:2

GD:-3

Pts:2

Pos:18th

Results:

Chelsea (H) L 1-3

Swansea City (A) L 1-0

Manchester United (H) D 0-0

Crystal Palace (A) D 0-0

Sean Dyche’s Burnley defied the odds last season by being promoted automatically to the Premier League, despite their modest budget and small squad size. The lack of experience in the squad has meant that many wrote Burnley off before the start of the season, however, they have acquitted themselves well to the rigours of playing in the Premier League.

Their strongest asset is their defence. Since the opening weekend defeat to Chelsea, Burnley have only conceded one goal, coming in the first half of their second game against Swansea. This means that Burnley have gone over 250 minutes without conceding a goal, showing their competence in defence. This strength will stand them in good stead, as it will help them avoid losing games, keeping the points tally ticking over and helping them in the relegation battle.

However, their defensive steel is somewhat costly, as Burnley have struggled to score goals in their opening four fixtures. Not since Scott Arfield’s early goal against Chelsea have Burnley found the net, meaning that winning a game has proved elusive so far. Part of the problem is a lack of creativity; Burnley are a well drilled, hard to break down side, which consequently stifles their attacking abilities, but their main issue is not taking their chances. Arfield missed a penalty towards the end of the Crystal Palace game and the Clarets hit only 1 out of 12 shots on target in the defeat against Swansea. Shooting accuracy must improve if Burnley are to win enough games to stay in the division.

Dyche has clearly installed a good team spirit at Turf Moor, however, which has translated onto the pitch with some organised, commendable performances. They have also faced some tough fixtures already, especially at home, taking on Chelsea and Manchester United. Their spirited displays so far suggest Burnley will make things difficult for opponents and that they are up for the fight of staying in the Premier League. By keeping games as close and tight as they do, they increase their chances of winning games by the odd goal, helping their chances of staying up.

Despite Burnley’s character and organisation, they still have a big question mark hanging over them: Is the squad actually good enough? They defied the odds in obtaining promotion last season with their squad. Difficulties in the transfer market have meant that their squad is mostly the same as last season. A lack of funds and a struggle to attract new players means that Burnley still have a largely Championship standard squad, and the test lies in competing with stronger teams week in, weekout.

In conclusion, Burnley will need to score more goals in order to ensure their survival for another season. Their strong defence and character stands them in good stead to be competitive this season, but due to their squad size and quality survival would count as a monumental achievement. They will certainly give it a good crack, and probably get close, but their lack of goals will mean that they probably won’t win enough games to stay up.

Leicester City

W:1 D:2 L:1

GD:-1

Pts:5

Pos:12th

Results:

Everton (H) D 2-2

Chelsea (A) L 2-0

Arsenal (H) D 1-1

Stoke City (A) W 1-0

Championship winners Leicester City have looked the most comfortable by far out of the newly promoted teams by far, despite the daunting look of their opening fixtures. Starting the season with games against three of last season’s top 5, as well as a trip to the notoriously tough Britannia Stadium, meant that Leicester would not have expected to have many points on the board early in the season. However, they have fought hard and been competitive in all of their fixtures so far and, most importantly, have picked up a decent points total. Draws against Arsenal and Everton were highly commendable, but particularly impressive was the 1-0 win away to Stoke; a team that only lost three times at home in the last campaign.

Furthermore, Leicester frustrated league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for long periods, and even had chances to take the lead through David Nugent.  This is the main improvement needed for Leicester, who have so far looked very capable everywhere on the pitch, but do not have many players who will score enough goals to maximise their potential.

However, their big-money Patagonian centre-forward Leo Ulloa has adapted to the Premier League very well, scoring three goals in his opening four matches. Many questioned whether he would be able to make the step up to the Premier League, but he appears to be a handful for defences and is scoring goals to boot. A slight concern for the Foxes is that Ulloa has scored three of their four goals so far, and they may struggle to get goals from elsewhere, but they have a tight defence and should not need too many goals over the season in order to win plenty of matches.

On early evidence, Leicester City look by far the best equipped to beat the drop out of the newly promoted teams. Their results and performances have been impressive, especially as many would have had them down to lose their tough opening fixtures. In Ulloa they seem to have found one man who can score, and also have a fairly solid defence, boosted by the capture of experienced defensive-midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, that has genuine Premier League quality. The Foxes already look like a decent mid-table Premier League outfit; which is a credit to Nigel Pearson. Survival chances look very good for Leicester.

Queens Park Rangers

W:1 D:0 L:3

GD:-8

Pts:3

Pos:16th

Results:

Hull City (H) L 1-0

Tottenham Hotspur (A) L 4-0

Sunderland (H) W 1-0

Manchester United (A) L 4-0

QPR were the only team to bounce straight back to the Premier League after relegation from the Championship the season before. Performing this tough feat would normally mean that they stood a good chance of staying up, however, they have started the season in a very poor manner.

For a start, Rangers concede far too many goals. They already have the worst defence in the league, as well as the worst goal difference, mainly from two incredibly abject 4-0 away defeats to Tottenham and Manchester United. Whilst losing these games is not unusual for a newly promoted side, the manner in which QPR fell to defeat was appalling. They had no sting in attack and no bite in defence, which is a very big concern for the rest of the season.

Part of the issue may be the formation. Harry Redknapp has implemented a 3-5-2, and has even brought in Glenn Hoddle to help put this system in place, but it seems to leave QPR far too open at the back. Had they gone to White Hart Lane and Old Trafford with two banks of four that would try to stop them scoring, they may have stood a much better chance of taking something from those games, or at least making the score look respectable.

Another worry is the lack of a quality striker. Without Loic Remy, it is difficult to imagine the R’s are going to be able to score enough goals to stay up. Charlie Austin seems to be Redknapp’s preferred striker, but despite his goal against Sunderland, he has been struggling in front of goal, as shown in his costly penalty miss on the opening day against Hull.

QPR do, however, have some experienced and talented players that should give them a chance of staying up. The experience of Joey Barton and Rio Ferdinand will help them win tight matches, like against Sunderland, and they also have brought in other talented players such as Leroy Fer, Steven Caulker, Edouardo Vargas and Mauricio Isla. These players have plenty of quality, but the challenge remains in getting them to gel as a team, as this was the problem for QPR during their last stint in the Premier League.

So far, QPR don’t look like they are going to develop into a strong Premier League outfit. They are weak at the back and light up front. Compared to Burnley, they have more quality individuals, which will stand them in good stead, but don’t appear to have the same sort of spirit and organisation. They have a very experienced squad and coaching team, but unless things turn around, QPR look to be in real danger.

 


Overall, Leicester look to be the most impressive newly promoted team so far, and look very well placed to survive and establish themselves in the Premier League. Burnley and QPR will both struggle and be down there all season; with Burnley’s organisation and spirit across the team giving them the advantage over a thus far disjointed QPR in the battle to stay up. However,early season evidence suggests that both teams would have done exceptionally well if they are a premier league team still come the 2015/16 season.

Burnley

Sold by Everton in January, Aaron Lennon is enjoying resurgence with Burnley

The 31-year-old has quickly adjusted to life at Turf Moor.

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Photo: Getty Images

In Thursday night’s tightly-fought Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea, the Clarets came within touching distance of eclipsing Arsenal in sixth position.

It has been a remarkable charge up the table for Burnley, and their stunning season is mirrored by the transfer of Aaron Lennon from Everton to Turf Moor.

The 31-year-old winger left Goodison Park in search of regular playing time, and has since slotted into a squad far more ambitious than Everton.

When Lennon was bought by the Clarets in late January, Burnley were just three points ahead of the Toffees. But after Thursday’s match against Chelsea, Burnley now sit in seventh position, a massive ten points in front of Everton.

It is clear that Lennon made the smart move in the winter when leaving struggling Everton for buoyant Burnley.

The ten-point gap between the two sides is due mainly to a superb five-match winning run engineered by Burnley. Lennon had started all five of those matches, contributing two assists along the way along with a host of bright, attacking displays.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Cruelly for the Merseyside club, Burnley’s scintillating spell was kickstarted by a 2-1 win over Everton, in which Lennon played all 90 minutes and earned an impressive WhoScored match rating of 7.3.

To make matters worse for Everton, Lennon’s match rating eclipsed both Theo Walcott’s and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s, both players who were preferred in front of the 31-year-old at Goodison Park.

Although Burnley’s fine spell was narrowly ended by Chelsea in a 2-1 defeat, the club still harbours an outside chance at an audacious sixth-place finish. Burnley faces three sides in the bottom half of the table in the form of Bournemouth, Brighton, and Stoke City, as well as a massive match at the Emirates to face Arsenal.

With Arsenal enduring a terrible run of form in 2018, Burnley will fancy their chances away at the Gunners, and former Everton winger Aaron Lennon will surely be at the heart of their lethal attack.

If Lennon can achieve a record-sixth placed finish with the Clarets, he will show the Everton hierarchy just how wrong they were in letting him leave in January.

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Burnley

Steven Defour wanted by Premier League clubs, David Moyes and West Ham makes sense

The West Ham boss tried to sign Defour whilst Everton manager in 2009.

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It looks as though Burnley might have a job on keeping hold of their Belgian midfielder Steven Defour this summer. His agent has confirmed this week that there is interest in the player from other teams in the Premier League, as reported by the Burnley Express.

Reports in Belgium have echoed these sentiments. Het Laatste Nieuws report that two mid-table English clubs are chasing the Burnley star this summer.

So who could it be?

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 31: West Ham United manager David Moyes gestures during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Southampton at London Stadium on March 31, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Plenty of teams in the past have been linked with a move for Defour. The Belgium international was once considered one of Europe’s top talents. However, the time teams such as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were interested in the 29-year-old has passed.

But one man who has wanted Defour previously is West Ham manager David Moyes. The Scotsman was in charge at Everton in 2009 when the Toffees tried to sign Defour. As reported by the Telegraph Moyes had decided Defour was the man he wanted to improve Everton’s midfield. A bid of £9 million was lodged but the Merseyside club would not meet Defour’s then-club Standard Liege’s £12 million valuation. The Guardian later reported that Standard would only sell the player ii they failed to qualify for the Champions League that season. They did qualify and Defour remained for two more seasons before joining Porto.

Defour has now established himself in Premier League football. He was in great form this season before knee cartilage surgery in February cut his campaign short.

Standard’s Steven Defour (L) and Gent’s Milos Maric (R) fight for the ball during the Belgian first league football match AA Gent vs Standard, on May 16, 2009 in Gent, last day of the Jupiler Pro League Belgian football championship. Standard wins 0-1. Anderlecht and Standard will play a test match to appoint the winner of the championship. AFP PHOTO/ BELGA / BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

West Ham need central midfield reinforcements. It is one area of the field that they are currently short and Moyes would surely jump at the chance to finally work with Defour.

Whilst the league table suggests Burnley is the place to stay, Defour would certainly struggle to reject a move to West Ham. The chance to play in London and try turnaround the fortunes for the Hammers will undoubtedly appeal to the 52-cap Belgian.

If Premier League clubs are keen on Defour, it will be no surprise if one of them is West Ham this summer. Moyes might finally get his hands on his man.

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Burnley

Tottenham Hotspur star Georges-Kevin N’Koudou must now take Burnley chance

The £11m winger is currently on loan at Burnley.

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It was one of the longest and most drawn out transfers of the 2016 summer transfer window. Finally, on the 31st August that year, Tottenham managed to secure the signature of Marseille winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou on a five-year deal.

ESPN reported that Spurs spent around £11 million on the winger, with Clinton N’Jie also heading the opposite direction on loan.

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Kazaiah Sterling (L) and Tottenham Hotspur’s French midfielder Georges-Kevin N’Koudou (R) embrace on the pitch after the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Apoel Nicosia at Wembley Stadium in London, on December 6, 2017. Tottenham won the game 3-0. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

The deal was first put together much earlier in the summer but the two clubs struggled to agree on the specifics. It left N’Koudou in limbo and out of sync when he finally did arrive at Spurs.

But simply put, this deal has not been a success. N’Koudou has played just 23 times for Spurs in the 18 months he had with the club before being loaned out in January. The 23-year-old headed to Burnley until the end of the season, as Sean Dyche looked to freshen up his wide options.

However, the move to Burnley has been a slow burn so far as well. Finally, he got his chance against West Brom at the weekend. With Johann Berg Gudmundsson sidelined with a calf injury N’Koudou was handed his first start by Dyche. It was in fact, his first start in the Premier League with either Spurs or Burnley.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Burnley player Georges-Kevin N’Koudou reacts during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on January 31, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It was a big chance for the talented attacker and he performed well in the game. Whilst not upping any roots he will have surely demonstrated to the Burnley boss he can be relied upon.

What N’Koudou needs now is a run of games in the first-team. His future at Tottenham is currently looking bleak, with such minimal first-team action and the club improving their wide options all the time.

What is needed is a good run of form at Burnley to show Mauricio Pochettino and co that he can hack it in the Premier League.

But if the West Brom start proves to be a flash in the pan, expect to see N’Koudou on his way out of Spurs in the summer.

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