Having finished seventh in the Premier League standings in the 2017/18 campaign, Burnley struggled for large periods last season, with the Clarets eventually finding themselves in 15th position, just six points above the relegation zone. So, just what changed during this period and how can Sean Dyche and Co get the club back to the top half of the table?
Burnley lost 20 of their 38 Premier League outings last season, with their lack of goals having played a part in their demise. However, the 45 goals scored over the course of the campaign was actually nine more than they had recorded during their successful run in 17/18, meaning that it is actually in the defensive third as to where the majority of Burnley’s problems lie. Having only conceded 39 goals two seasons ago, the Clarets let in a massive 68 goals last time around, with the likes of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski having failed to hit the heights in which they previously had. With veteran full-back Erik Pieters having been the club’s only defensive addition over the summer, it perhaps comes as little surprise that some of the highly rated bookies like bet365 have ranked the Clarets as one of the favourites to close to the bottom come the end of the current season.
Fans at Turf Moor will be hoping that Burnley’s ability to keep hold of players including Barnes, Tarkowski and goalkeeper Nick Pope will ensure for a more successful campaign this time around, with the Clarets undoubtedly having a strong core on the field. The club is in good hand in terms on management, however Dyche, who was courted by other teams is under pressure to deliver a better Premier League standing this season, with the former Watford boss having seen his side lose twice in their opening four matches. Their 3-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool, whilst perhaps being expected given the form in which Jurgen Klopp’s side are in, was disappointing for all, with the hosts having recorded just two shots on target during the 90 minutes.
Dyche has introduced promising youngster Dwight McNeil into the team over the last 18 months, however a further injection of youth could well have the desired effect. Burnley have the oldest average age in the Premier League at 28.8 years, with the likes of Josh Benson and Ali Koiki being among the youngsters who could well feature in the top-flight this season. Due to the fact that there won’t be major increase in the overall budget following their disappointing league position last season, youth could well be the way forward for the Clarets as they look for a new identity.
Meanwhile, despite Barnes having had a great start to the season, Burnley remain among the favourites to score the fewest number of goals in the Premier League, with a quick look at the Clarets’ starting line-ups over recent weeks not providing great reading in terms of a threat in front of goal. If Burnley are to return to the top half of the standings, they are certainly going to have to improve upon their ratio in this area. Aside from Barnes and Wood, no Burnley player scored more than three goals last season, with the emphasis on the likes of Jack Cork, McNeil and Jay Rodriguez to step up to the plate.