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Premier League 2014-15 Preview: Burnley

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Premier League soccer returns to Turf Moor this month, with Burnley, surprise runners-up in the Football Championship, ascending to the top flight for the time since 2009-10. As was the case then, under Owen Coyle, the Clarets’ boss has received the bulk of the credit, with Sean Dyche earning praise for his approach. But whereas Coyle was lauded for a stylish, flowing style, the solidity Dyche instilled led to the Championship’s best defense.

The Premier League will be another matter, of course, part of the reason why Burling has bolstered, bringing in six new players this summer. The hope: Avoid the fate of that 2009-10 squad. Abandoned by Coyle mid-season, the Clarets finished five points short of safety, beginning a life in the second tier that ended finally ended with May’s promotion.

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Matt Gilks (Blackpool, free), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough, $2.5 million), Michael Kightly (Stoke), Steven Reid (West Brom, free), Marvin Sordell (Bolton, free), Matthew Taylor (West Ham, free),

Transfers Out: Chris Baird (West Brom), Kyle Brownhill (Hyde, free), David Edgar (Birmingham, free), Micah Evans (Southport, free), Joseph Mills (Oldham, free), Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth, free)

| Full PL schedule | Watch Burnley via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: The Clarets were one of two teams to win automatic promotion, with a defense that allowed 37 goals in 46 games lifting the team to second place, behind Leicester City. 23-year-old right back Kieran Trippier won a spot in the league’s team of the season, with forward Danny Ings joining him after a 20-goal season. Despite not being part of promotion discussions at the beginning of the season, the Clarets ended up eight points clear of a place in the playoffs.

Star Player: Danny Ings

After a breakout season that saw his goal total climb from three to 20, Ings has been linked with moves to a bigger stages. For now, the 22-year-old has remained loyal, hoping the club he joined three years ago can avoid a quick drop. With some seeing him as a future England international, Ings has a chance to prove himself at the highest level, though it should go without saying success in the top flight will be more difficult.

Coaches corner: Sean Dyche

Only 43, Dyche is on his second managerial job, having previously enjoyed a successful season at Watford. In his second year at Turf Moor, the former Chesterfield defender lived out a young manager’s dream: Taking an overlooked team to the next level.

In the process, Dyche won respect for a straight-forward approach that instilled a prepared confidence in his squad. As the defensive record attests, that confidence let to results, giving Dyche the first major accomplishment of his managerial career.

PST predicts: If last year’s Crystal Palace taught us anything, it’s to approach relegation predictions with caution. Given where Dyche’s strengths lie, he may be able to orchestrate some Tony Pulis-like results. But until we see that on the field, Burnley looks likely to stay near the bottom.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.