At the start of the season, Burnley looked odds-on favourites to go down. They had a squad with no real X-factor, and had only survived last season thanks to their home form. Surely that wouldn’t be enough to keep them up for a second season running? Also, their opening assignments away from home were Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool and Everton. Even a single point from this run-in would be a bonus, and Sean Dyche’s were expected to play catch-up from the very start.
But football can be a funny old game sometimes. With 7 games played, and all the above-mentioned away games checked off, the Clarets are nowhere to be seen near the relegation zone. In fact, they’re not in the bottom half at all. They currently occupy a European place in 6th with 12 points on the board, just one behind 4th placed Chelsea.
Also, incredibly enough, they didn’t lose even one of those games at the big boys. On the opening day, they shocked the world by going 3-0 up at half-time against defending champions Chelsea. The Blues hit back in the second period, but Burnley held on for a 3-2 win. With this result, they had already matched the number of victories they had on the road in the whole of last season. This was followed by a last-gasp draw against Spurs at Wembley before another point at Anfield. This Saturday, they beat Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park to continue their unbelievable run.
Reversal of fortunes
Interestingly enough, they haven’t looked as strong at home this season. Burnley picked up 33 of their 40 points last season at Turf Moor, but have managed only one victory thus far in their opening three games. That came against basement club Crystal Palace, who have lost all their games thus far without scoring even once.
Their next away assignment is to Manchester City, who are flying high at the top of the table. They have a chance to put their home woes right in the coming weeks, as they face West Ham United, Newcastle United and Swansea City in their next three fixtures at Turf Moor.
Burnley are the only club in the top 8 to score fewer than 10 goals thus far, finding the back of the net only 7 times in as many games. They’ve only conceded 5 though, and will need to continue to keep teams out to maintain their current form. Sam Vokes and Chris Wood have impressed up front, but there is nobody in the squad who can guarantee 20 to 25 league goals per season.
There is a genuine chance that Burnley can finish in the top half this season, the way they’re going at the moment. However, they must make sure not to take their foot off the pedal. It won’t take much for them to get sucked into a relegation battle, and picking up points here and there on a consistent basis is imperative. For that, they must improve on their home form. Dyche will know that, and will want to make amends right after the international break against a struggling West Ham.
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