Burnley 2017/18 Season Preview: The Clarets look to build on a successful return to the Premier League

Can Burley push up the table after easing to survival last season?

Burnley 2017/18 Season Preview: The Clarets look to build on a successful return to the Premier League
Burnley will be hoping for more goals after just 39 last season (photo: Getty Images/Lee Parker)

Burnley spent much of last season looking up the table rather than over their shoulders as an impressive home record ensured they eased any relegation worries.

Yet with just one win on the road throughout the campaign, manager Sean Dyche will only be too aware that a successive season in the top flight could be just as challenging, if not more so, this time around.

Home form keeps Burnley afloat last time out

Dyche prides himself on building fit and energetic teams willing to work for the cause. It was this hard graft that helped Burnley defy many a prediction that they would be relegated back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

At one point during the season, Burnley's record on home soil was second only to Tottenham Hotspur in the top flight. Despite a dip in form towards the end of the campaign, the Clarets finished with just six defeats at Turf Moor as they used a high pressing game to their advantage on a tight pitch.

Yet Burnley found life particularly challenging on the road. It took until their penultimate away fixture of the campaign to rack up a morale-boosting victory against Crystal Palace. The Clarets finished the season with just seven points from their travels, only one above relegated Hull City who has the worst away record in the Premier League.

Several in but lynchpin Keane departs

After conceding 55 goals in the league last season, Dyche has added full-backs Charlie Taylor and Phil Bardsley to his squad. Adam Legzdins has also arrived as cover for Tom Heaton following the retirement of Paul Robinson.

However, with a trip to Premier League champions Chelsea on the horizon, Burnley have a void to fill in central defence following Michael Keane's lucrative departure to Everton after a stellar season saw him make his England debut.

Further forward, Jack Cork has arrived from Swansea as he looks to dictate the tempo of Burnley's passing after Joey Barton was released following his lengthy gambling ban. George Boyd has departed for Sheffield Wednesday but the experienced Jon Walters offers versatility in attacking areas to provide support going forward.

 

 

Unbeaten pre-season

Burnley had enjoyed a successful pre-season up until last weekend. A training camp in Ireland concluded with a comfortable victory over Shamrock Rovers before the squad was split in two for trips to Alfreton Town and Kidderminster Harriers as both senior and youth players gained valuable minutes. Andre Gray netted a hat-trick against the former.

The stakes were raised as the Clarets remained unbeaten against Championship duo Nottingham Forest and Preston North End. They then played out an entertaining draw with Spanish side Celta Vigo, only to have their plans ruined by the recent half-time abandonment against Hannover 96.

Pressing and purpose will be key to success

Expect Burnley to rack up one of the highest combined totals of kilometres run next season. Although they don't tend to boss possession at home or away, the Clarets will play a strong pressing game and not allow their opponents any time or space on the ball.

They are generally good in the air in all areas of the pitch. Ben Mee will have a key role to play in central defence this season, particularly after his long-standing partner has been taking away from him. Expect recent England international Tom Heaton to also be an important figure after ending last season as one of the top shot-stoppers in the top flight.

Sam Vokes was top goalscorer last year with 12 goals and will be a player to watch with his aerial prowess and finishing ability. The pace of Andre Gray will provide a perfect foil if he stays after being linked with moves away, whilst Belgium international Steven Defour will be a key figure in midfield with his guile and flair.

Challenging start with a familiar goal

Despite a successful campaign last time out, Wales international Vokes insists the goal for this season is survival once again. Burnley should be capable of producing a similar result but much will depend on their capability of finding a replacement for Michael Keane alongside Ben Mee.

The Clarets will also be looking to ensure they can immediately learn from their mistakes on the road with a tough set of opening fixtures. They will visit Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City in their first five away fixtures.

Burnley Football Club