Best of the Rest
Before the season began, the bookies had Burnley as near even odds to be relegated from the Premier League. then on the opening day of the season, they shocked fans around the country with a 3-2 win over 9-man Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Since then they’ve taken points from Anfield and Spurs’ temporary home Wembley, as well as wins at Goodison Park and St Marys.
Last season they struggled on the road while keeping one of the best home records in the league, but this term they look to have overcome their problem. Only Man City have lost fewer times after 12 games and the Clarets are sat in 7th position, level on points with Liverpool and Arsenal, and just one point behind Spurs. The top six is made up of the usual suspects, and leading the chase is Burnley.
Their win against Swansea at the weekend was the first time they have won three consecutive top-flight matches since 1975. What a lot of people don’t realise is that not long after that, in the early 1980’s, Burnley were almost relegated to the conference. They were in financial difficulty and if they had lost to Leyton Orient on the final day of the season it’s likely that they would have folded.
They ended up winning 2-1 and rebuild the club, gradually becoming a solid Championship side before earning promotion to the Premier League in 2010. They were later relegated before returning twice, and they are now one of the toughest teams to beat. It has been a crazy rollercoaster up to this point but Sean Dyche has got them playing good, technical football and they seem to be unphased by anybody.
Most people will still associate Burnley with no-nonsense football, but that’s no longer a fair assessment. They’re solid at the back and have conceded the third least amount of goals so far, but their goals are what have made the difference.
The biggest surprise for any top side that plays Burnley is that they are always up for a fight. When it’s a cold, rainy day, you would think these guys maybe could have an off day but they consistently play the game like it’s the Champions League final. (People will say because it’s always cold and rainy there). The only things that can stop them are key injuries or if they can’t physically keep bringing the high energy levels until the end of the season.
Next up they have another big test as Arsenal visit, and a shock win would see them leapfrog the Gunners. But if they stay consistent and focused over the next few months they will be closer to European football than Championship football for the first time in half a century.