Premier League: Can Burnley really avoid the drop?

Sean Dyche's side have shown some fire recently
Sean Dyche's side have shown some fire recently

Andy Brassell turns his attention to the foot of the Premier League table and Burnley's fight against relegation...

"Danny Ings, meanwhile, seems to have taken inspiration from his excellent brace for England’s Under-21s against Portugal at Turf Moor. Sam Vokes could soon join him to ease the burden. The scorer of 20 Championship goals last season but out since March with a knee injury, Vokes is a potentially crucial reinforcement for 2015."

It's been a Premier League season full of surprises. Stoke City could tell you that. Having scored eye-catching away wins at Manchester City and Tottenham, Saturday's defeat against Burnley meant that they have three home losses to date; against a pair of promoted sides (Leicester City being the other one) and Aston Villa, who feature prominently in many minds when it comes to considering the relegation battle.

Maybe the team that vanquished them at the weekend could yet provide the biggest surprise of all. Until Burnley's maiden win of the season, registered against Hull City before the international pause, the possibility of Sean Dyche's men going through the campaign without winning was almost as discussed as Chelsea's chances of completing the season without defeat. 

If it seemed harsh (and premature, as is talk of Chelsea's projected invincibility), there was reason behind it. This modest club approached the campaign with, well, modesty, refusing to spend heavily in the transfer market. Eight signings included three free transfers, with George Boyd's move from Hull thought to be the most expensive at an estimated £3m. It looked like it wouldn't be enough, and maybe even that the plan was just to bank the Premier League cash and accept relegation. An opening streak of ten without a win, yielding just four points, seemed to confirm those gloomy predictions. 

Yet two wins in two matches have offered a glimmer of possibility. The Clarets remain in 19th place, sandwiched between Leicester and bottom-placed Queens Park Rangers, but on an upward trajectory. With only three points separating them from West Bromwich Albion in 13th, there is no longer the feeling that they look like getting cut away from the pack. 

It would be easy to identify beating Hull as the turning point, and there is no doubt that it was a huge boost, in terms of points and positivity. Yet perhaps, in time, Ross Wallace's 96th-minute equaliser at Leicester might be seen as a pivotal moment. It showed Burnley they could be a goal threat - they have only failed to score against Arsenal at the Emirates in the matches since - after six successive matches without scoring in all competitions. 

It also helped to harm one of their rivals, with the Foxes affected badly. They lost four in a row immediately following that match, and only steadied the ship with Saturday's goalless draw with Sunderland. Nigel Pearson's team, incidentally, have gleaned just two points from seven matches overall since their stunning 5-3 victory over Manchester United. On the other side of Burnley in the current standings, QPR's improved performances of late simply aren't yielding points.

Meanwhile Burnley's progress is providing tangible gain. The team is evolving. The original plan, presumably, was that the experienced pair of Stephen Ward and Matt Taylor would form a partnership on the left side, but Michael Kightly's strong performance at Stoke suggests he is perhaps the attacking solution on that flank - and maybe that he is ready to become the solid Premier League performer that injury stopped him being while at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Danny Ings, meanwhile, seems to have taken inspiration from his excellent brace for England's Under-21s against Portugal at Turf Moor. Sam Vokes could soon join him to ease the burden. The scorer of 20 Championship goals last season but out since March with a knee injury, Vokes is a potentially crucial reinforcement for 2015. 

Having recovered the swagger that saw them through last season, and having learnt a few lessons, they are in better shape than their rivals - the trick will be to make it last. Laying Burnley for relegation looks a decent bet at this stage, at 1.51/2. But the real value could be in backing them as the top finishing promoted team, at a generous 5.24/1.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles