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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Premier League preview 2018/19 - Burnley: Tall order to repeat past success for Dyche's squad

Richard Jolly is analysing all 20 teams competing in the Premier League and giving his verdict on how they will fare. Here he looks at Burnley, who are facing the challenge of mixing domestic and European action

Burnley will look for more goals from Ashley Barnes. Getty Images
Burnley will look for more goals from Ashley Barnes. Getty Images

State of play: It felt the sort of throwback that should not happen in 21st-century football. Burnley were fourth in December, seventh at the end of the season. Individually and collectively, they overachieved.

It was a wonderful story, if not a great spectacle: they averaged under a goal a game but a superb defence were letting in fewer than one per match until a May thrashing at Arsenal.

Now a challenge for men who had career-best campaigns – such as Ashley Barnes, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and James Tarkowski – is whether they can maintain those standards when a frustrating summer has denied Sean Dyche the reinforcements he targeted and cost him the services of injured goalkeeper Nick Pope.

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Premier League 2018/19 preview: Team-by-team guide and predictions

Premier League transfer window: all the new signings for 2018/19 season

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Key player: Chris Wood – Injuries and a spell on the bench obscured some of his impact, but the New Zealander showed why Burnley made him their record buy by averaging a goal every other game last season. If he can repeat that feat in a low-scoring side, he will be pivotal.

Manager: Sean Dyche – Despite the plethora of managerial jobs that came up last season, Dyche got none of them and instead signed a contract until 2022 at Turf Moor. After two promotions and taking Burnley into Europe for the first time in half a century, Dyche has done a stunning job, but his methods may make him unfashionable.

Talking point: Will Burnley’s European campaign cost them? Dyche has a famous preference for fielding unchanged teams while Burnley normally finish near the top of the table for the running statistics.

Yet they could face a gruelling Europa League campaign and plenty of others have struggled with the Thursday-Sunday routine in the past, especially clubs who are not accustomed to it.

Burnley’s squad is smaller after summer departures and much as their players have improved under Dyche, a side whose victories often come by one-goal margin need to be at their fittest and freshest to prevail.

Prediction: 13th.

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