Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

2019/20 Premier League preview - Burnley: Sean Dyche's men set for steadier season

Richard Jolly runs the rule over Burnley ahead of the new season, including key player, new signing to watch and predicted league finish

Jay Rodriguez, right, should boost Burnley's attacking options during the 2019/20 Premier League season. Press Association
Jay Rodriguez, right, should boost Burnley's attacking options during the 2019/20 Premier League season. Press Association

In a season-and-a-half of top-flight football, Burnley have taken 82 points. That somewhat artificial statistic, however, ignores the first half of last season, when they only took 12 points in a wretched run before going back to basics with great effectiveness.

So are Burnley a top-eight team or one whose budget puts them in an annual battle to stay up?

Transfer missteps imperilled them last year when all three signings – Joe Hart, Ben Gibson and Matej Vydra – failed in their debut campaigns.

Sean Dyche seems to have bought better this year, with Jay Rodriguez arriving, and with a superior start, Burnley should have fewer worries.

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Who finishes where in 2019-20?

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Key player: James Tarkowski

Partly because he was outstanding in 2017/18, when Burnley had a brilliant defensive record, and his more troubled start last year mirrored his club’s struggles. But also because Gibson’s arrival means Ben Mee has a better natural deputy than Tarkowski, with Kevin Long the only other right-footed centre-back at Turf Moor.

Signing to watch: Jay Rodriguez

Back at his first club, a year after Burnley almost re-signed him, Rodriguez looks ideal. Not merely because he scored 33 goals in two seasons at West Brom but because he seems to suit Dyche’s style of play and, unlike most strikers, could fit either Chris Wood or Ashley Barnes’ role.

Talking point: What does Dyche do with his England goalkeepers?

What happens now in the goalkeeping department? Tom Heaton was one of last season’s success stories, his recall propelling Burnley to safety. His move to Aston Villa solves one problem – Burnley had three England international keepers last season, obviously too many – but creates another. Hart conceded 41 goals in 19 league games when it was clear the defence was more comfortable with Heaton or Nick Pope. Pope’s remarkable 2017/18 sent him from unknown to a member of England’s World Cup squad, but, after injury ruined his campaign last year, was that a one-off or can he rediscover that form?

Prediction: 15th

Updated: August 2, 2019 03:25 PM

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