Why the Europa League is nothing but a positive for Burnley?

Burnley im 1Many Premier League sides are often accused of not taking the Europa League seriously. Qualification is seen as a burden, with clubs being forced to play Thursday in Europe and then Sunday in the league, a sequence that could disrupt their Premier League form.

Most Premier League clubs have fielded weaker teams throughout the competition, failing to take it as seriously as teams from other European leagues. Southampton and West Ham, on two occasions, have both been knocked out by far weaker opposition in the qualifying rounds in recent seasons.

However, for Burnley the competition should be embraced, not least because it is their first time back in Europe for 51 years.

How Burnley defied the odds to qualify for Europe

Rewind twelve months and Burnley were gearing up for the start of their second successive Premier League campaign. The Clarets made some decent, if unspectacular, summer additions, with Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor joining from Leeds, and experienced top-flight players Jack Cork, Johnathan Walters and Phil Bardsley also signing.

Despite these additions many pundits predicted it would be a difficult season for Sean Dyche’s men, often alluding to the dreaded second season syndrome as a potential stumbling block.

There was also a case that Burnley would not be able to replicate their remarkable home form from the previous campaign. This coupled with their poor away record in the Premier League, could see them dragged into relegation trouble.

However, much to the contrary Burnley thrived in the opening months of the season, especially on their travels, beating champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day, as well as holding Tottenham and Liverpool. Further away successes followed at Everton, Southampton and Bournemouth before Christmas, and after a 1-0 victory at home to Stoke in December, Burnley for 24 hours sat in fourth place.

The Clarets then suffered a dip in form, going eleven matches without a win, before finally claiming three points with a second half comeback against Everton. That sparked a run of five wins in a row that assured Burnley of a seventh-place finish and qualification for the Europa League.

Why the Europa League should be embraced by Burnley

Most of Sean Dyche’s current squad have already shown they can handle a heavy fixture schedule, after securing promotion from the Championship playing 46 matches. They are also renowned for being one of the fittest and hardworking sides in the Premier League. For these reasons Burnley are more prepared for the heavy fixture schedule than most Premier League sides.

It will also be a huge opportunity for most of Burnley’s squad to test themselves in European competition. Out of the current squad only Steven Defour, Aaron Lennon, Jonathon Walters and Chris Wood have played in European club competition before.

For Sean Dyche it will be a chance to show that his managerial capabilities extend to being able to be competitive in Europe, as well as in the Premier League. A good showing by his side will only further enhance his ever growing standing in the game.

For generations of supporters it will be the first time they have seen their side competing in Europe. During their 51-year absence from Europe, fans have seen Burnley nearly drop out of the football league all together, before gradually climbing back up through the lower leagues, and becoming a competitive top-flight team once again.

There will be little expectation on Burnley to go far in the competition, getting to Group Stage will be tough enough, with a difficult tie against Aberdeen first, before a potential tie against Istanbul Basaksehir standing in their way. Whatever happens in their European campaign this season, they should embrace the competition and could defy expectation once again.


Blackburn vs Burnley Carabao Cup 2nd round derby preview

Burnley travel to rivals Blackburn Rovers for an East Lancashire derby in the Carabao cup on Wednesday evening.

The Clarets will be firm favorites to progress to the next round against League 1 opponents. However this could bring an added pressure to a game that is always fueled with huge passion from both sets of supporters.

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sean dyche is unbeaten in matches against blackburn with burnley

Burnley were knocked of the league cup at local rivals Accrington Stanley last season in the 2nd round. They will be looking for a much stronger showing in this seasons competition.

Burnley have made a decent start to their Premier League campaign. Picking up a surprise win at Chelsea before Saturdays frustrating loss at home to West Bromwich Albion.

Burnley lost their first home match of the season to West Brom on Saturday

While Blackburn have had a tough start to life in the third tier following last seasons relegation from the Championship.

Tony Mowbray’s side lost their two opening league fixtures, 2-1 at Southend United and 3-1 at home to Doncaster Rovers. However they picked up their first victory with a 1-0 win at Bradford City on Saturday. Blackburn also won 3-1 at Coventry City in the first round of the Carabao Cup.

Sean Dyche could give a debut to new signing Chris Wood, who moved from Leeds United for around £15 million this week. The New Zealand International scored the winning goal as his former club Leeds beat rovers in the League cup last season.

Chris Wood was the top scorer in the Championship last season

Dyche may also choose to rest some of his key players, ahead of Burnley’s game at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

The likes of Kevin Long, Ashley Westwood, Scott Arfield and Ashley Barnes could all make their first starts of the season. While Charlie Taylor, Phil Bardsley and Jonathan Walters could make their full debuts.

Burnley will hope their extra quality will give them the edge against third tier opposition, while Blackburn will hope to cause an upset as they look to build momentum after a difficult start to the season.

A win would be Burnley’s fourth in a row against Blackburn, after going 35 years without a win against them. It would also be a good way to alleviate the frustration of being beaten at home by West Brom last weekend.

Prediction: Blackburn 1-3 Burnley

Can Burnley continue good start against West Brom?

Burnley host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday in a 3 pm kick off.

The Clarets produced the suprise result of the opening weekend, beating nine men Chelsea 3-2 in a dramatic encounter at Stamford Bridge.

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Sean Dyche watched his side claim an unlikely victory at Chelsea on the opening weekend

Chelsea were reduced to ten men early in the game following Garry Cahill’s challenge on Steven Defour.

Burnley took full advantage, taking a three goal advantage into the break. Sam Vokes scored twice in between a fine solo effort from Stephen Ward. The defending Champions pulled two goals back in the second half but Burnley held on to claim all three points.

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Sam Vokes heads in Burnley’s third goal of the first half against Chelsea

Meanwhile, West Brom also reordered a victory at home to Afc Bournemouth. Egyptcian debutant Ahmed Hegazi nodded in the only goal of a tight contest.

Both sides will be looking to maintain their good starts to the season on Saturday.

The game will be Burnley’s first game at Turf Moor this campaign.

Sean Dyche will hope his side can repeat their excellent home record from last season.

Burnley at Turf Moor had the ninth best home record in the Premier League last campaign

Burnley have reportedly made bids for strikers Chris Wood and Florin Andone, while also doubling their offer for Hull City’s versatile midfielder Sam Clucas this week.

However there have been no incomings ahead of the match, and with no injuries or suspensions Dyche is likley to name the same side that started at Chelsea.

In contrast Tony Pulis has added Gareth Barry to his squad this week from Everton. The experienced former England international could make his debut on Saturday. While Soloman Rondon will be hoping to earn a starting birth ahead of former Burnley forward Jay Rodriguez.

Last seasons encounter at Turf Moor ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw. A double from Sam Vokes was enough to earn Burnley a crucial point, as the clarets edged towards safety.

The Baggies are unbeaten in Premier League matches against Burnley, scoring 12 goals in the four games.

Their greatest threat is likley to come from set pieces. With Pulis looking to keep it tight in defense and hurt Burnley on the break.

However Dyche’s side will be high in confidence following their fine performance last week and will hope to extend their perfect start to the season, ahead of the trip to rivals Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao cup on Tuesday.

Can Burnley upset the Champions on opening day?

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Burnley players warming up ahead of their pre season game at Nottingham Forest

After the long summer break the Premier League is finally back this weekend. Burnley face arguably the most difficult fixture on the opening day. The Clarets travel to defending Champions Chelsea on Saturday for a 3 pm kick off.

The summer has seen the usual incomings and outgoings during the pre season period. Three of Burnley’s most influential players in recent seasons have departed. Micheal Keane joined Everton in a record transfer sale for Burnley. While George Boyd left on a free transfer to Sheffield Wednesday.

However the most suprising departure of the summer was Andre Gray, who’s move to Watford was confirmed only yesterday. The former Brentford forward turned down the offer of a new contract during the summer. He had just 12 months left on his contract meaning Watford’s offer was difficult to turn down.

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Andre in action against Hannover in his last game for Burnley

Sean Dyche has added five new players to his squad so far. Charlie Taylor joined from Leeds after his contract came to end, with a compensation fee agreed between the clubs. While Jonathan Walters and Phil Bardsley arrived from Stoke City. Jack Cork returned to Turf Moor from Swansea City for a seven figure sum. The Clarets have also added goalkeeper Adam Legzdins from Birmingham to replace the retiring Paul Robinson.

Dyche will be looking to address Burnley’s poor away form last season, starting with Saturdays trip to Stamford Bridge. The loss of Gray could see the former Watford boss deviate from his preferred 442 formation. With Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes or Jonathan Walters all capable of playing on their own upfront.

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Jonathan Walters could make his Burnley debut on Saturday

Burnley are likely to see much less of the ball than the hosts. Therefore playing with a five man midfield may provide more protection to a new centre back pairing of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee. The Clarets best chance of causing Chelsea’s back three problems may come from set pieces. Robbie Brady is therefore likely to start with his excellent dead ball delivery capable of hurting any defence in the league.

It could be the ideal time to face the defending Champions. Chelsea have had a more difficult summer than last season. Antonio Conte is still looking to bring in more depth to his squad, with the added pressures of Champions League football looming this season.

The Blues have brought in Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata. These players should add quality to Chelsea’s squad but may take time to settle into English football. Meanwhile they have also sold influential midfielder Nemanja Matic to rivals Manchester United.

Chelsea will also be without star man Eden Hazard due to an injury sustained on International duty. If Burnley can remain solid they may have a chance of frustrating their hosts. An unlikely win for Burnley would see them claim victory at Stamford Bridge for the first time since a league cup triumph in 2008.