James Tarkowski

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What we love about Burnley

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Burnley is one of the truly inspirational stories of the Premier League.

Currently sitting 10th in the league table while the football world waits for the coronavirus to pass, the Clarets are a model for true steady growth. While they haven’t burst to the top like Leicester City has, the club is still a fascinating story

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While the history of the club is a story in and of itself, the Clarets are also currently a club to study, with both a chairman and manager who present positive ideals and embody the identity of the club itself.


Sean Dyche with his Premier League Manager of the Month award for February (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Premier League)

Sean Dyche: The Burnley boss, the second-longest serving manager in the Premier League just 18 days behind Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe – the man he succeeded – is a model for consistency, mentality, and hard work. In fact, his rise to the managerial position itself is a perfect representation of what he brings to the club. After being unfairly sacked by Watford during an ownership change, he joined the England U-21 setup as a temporary backroom staff member, saying at the time of the ability to have a step back, “When you are in a job, sometimes you can get so into it that you forget what’s going on in the wider world. It’s nice to have a little window to go and reflect and look at others, share stories and practices and get a visual on it.”

That step back lasted three months. With Howe leaving for Bournemouth, he signed on at Burnley and has guided the club to steady growth ever since. His first full season saw Burnley record its best start to a league season in club history, and it was all uphill from there, promoted that same season with a second-place finish despite ridiculous financial constraints that saw the club spend just $500,000 on one player the previous summer, forcing Dyche to use just 23 players the entire campaign.

“The main thing you have to get right as a chairman is to pick the right manager,” said Burnley chairman Mike Garlick upon his hire. “If you do that you are halfway there at least. Sean has been key.” Words have rarely been more prophetic. Having just won the Premier League Manager of the Month award for February, it’s likely that Dyche will eventually leave for a bigger job, he has already given his all to this club and Burnley will forever remember what he brought to the team.

Home grown, working class mentality: The Clarets are the embodiment of the working class Premier League fans, a truly homegrown club. Take this quote from the chairman.

“I was born in the town, about 400 yards from the club. I went to school there, then went to uni and came to London to seek my Fortune. When I was 18 I told my dad I wanted to be chairman of Burnley one day. He said: ‘You must be bloody crackers son.’ It was a lifelong ambition to do this. I think one of the reasons we do so well is that myself and the other directors are all fairly local and we all really care. We are not there to pick up a wage. No director gets paid. You get a night in a hotel paid for but that’s it. I proudly state that I am the Premier League’s poorest owner. Everyone else is a billionaire, virtually. But I am proud of that and what we have achieved because we have had to sweat every asset both on and off the pitch to get the best from it.”

The club is truly local from the top down. And they don’t take anything for granted, not even the recent success and growth. When asked what it means to be established in the Premier League, Garlick said, “No such thing.” They are aware of the season-to-season volatility and the possibility that at any moment all the years of building could be torn down with one bad stretch of games. That’s truly the club of the working class.

Burnley chairman Mike Garlick alongside manager Sean Dyche (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

To rock bottom and back up: Burnley nearly didn’t make it out of the 1987 season alive. A founding member of the Football League in 1888, Burnley was relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time in club history in 1985, having suffered five relegations in a fifteen-year span. With newly-introduced promotion and relegation from the semi-pro ranks and the professional levels, it was thought that dropping out of the Fourth Division and into the Football Conference could be devastating for a club to the point where it could cause some to dissolve. With that in mind, after a horrid season that saw the club knocked out of both Cup competitions in the first round, only victory over Leyton Orient on the final day of the campaign plus a loss by Lincoln City saved the club from dropping out of the professional ranks altogether.

That game lives in club lore, as does support of the fanbase around that famous day. The listed attendance for the game is over 15,000 fans at Turf Moor, nearly 5,000 more than any other game that season and only the second time the club recorded a five-digit attendance figure for any league game.

After five more seasons in the Fourth Division, they would win the league and earn a promotion that would set off a period of growth still being experienced today.

James TarkowskiA player who could have left the club for a bigger job on multiple occasions, the 27-year-old defender continues to quietly prove himself one of the best in the Premier League. His best season was the 2017/18 campaign, earning himself a pair of caps for the England national team in pre-World Cup friendlies. This season, he is the fifth-best central defender in the Premier League according to WhoScored.com. Tarkowski makes his hay with a large workload of thankless defensive contributions, among the top 10 in the Premier League in both  clearances and blocks per game. A hard worker with little recognition, Tarkowski is another who embodies Burnley’s mentality under Dyche.

Burnley defender James Tarkowski during a February match against Bournemouth (Photo by Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images)

Newcastle cannot find way past Burnley

Newcastle v. Burnley recap and video highlights
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Wasteful Newcastle United drew Burnley 0-0 at St. James’ Park on Saturday

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The Magpies enjoyed a rare day of superior possession and out-attempted Burnley 21-8, but sit six points behind the ninth-place Clarets.

Newcastle is seven points clear of 18th-placed Aston Villa, who has a match-in-hand.


Three things we learned

1. Two dull sides fail: Newcastle and Burnley entered this game with horrific stats. Burnley entered the game passing at under 70 percent, with Newcastle the closest team to that 20th-ranked number. On the flip side, Burnley had been kept off the bottom of the possession table by Bruce’s packed-in Magpies. Newcastle showed a superiority, but the Clarets will happily take an away point.

2. Burnley block party a success: Newcastle’s more attacking system worked well in the first half, with the Magpies out-attempting Burnley 10-3. But Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope only had to make two saves and a couple of collections because his players got in the way of so many Newcastle bids. That defiance is what’s helped Burnley well clear of the drop zone despite what’s detailed in our first thing.

3. Gayle busy but sloppy in rare start: Magpies manager Steve Bruce has promised to make a proper run in the FA Cup, and sat star forward Allan Saint-Maximin as well as January signings Valentino Lazaro and Nabil Bentaleb. It would’ve worked well, but surprise started Dwight Gayle took one too many touches time and again to deprive breaks of their flow.

Man of the Match: Almiron. The ex-Atlanta United playmaker was everywhere with four key passes on the day. He beats Burnley keeper Nick Pope and center back James Tarkowski.


Newcastle deployed four at the back for the first time in months, and also reinserted both Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle into the lineup.

Gayle almost had a terrific chance when Nick Pope slipped while racing to meet the striker’s heavy first touch, but Pope recovered to collect the ball.

Phil Bardsley blocked another Gayle effort in the 18th as Newcastle grew into possession against a Burnley team who rarely cares for it.

Newcastle continued to control the ball, Shelvey having two shots blocked and Almiron dribbling into the box to have a low shot caught by Pope.

Ritchie missed with a back post header in the 32nd.

A series of Newcastle corner’s saw the Magpies threaten goal. First a training ground corner led to a James Tarkowski block before Jay Rodriguez got in the way of a Ritchie drive.

Almiron then led a break to set up Gayle for a shot saved by Pope.

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Shelvey’s 50th-minute free kick from 25 yards sailed over the bar.

A beautiful bit of interplay allowed Javier Manquillo to earn a corner, and Shelvey was saved by Pope on the ensuing set piece. Gayle soon flubbed a promising play as. Newcastle continued to knock.

A horrible back pass from Danny Rose sent Jay Rodriuguez on goal, but the striker somehow mailed it into the cheap seats.

Gayle missed an overhead kick attempt after a delightfully-chipped pass from Almiron. And Ritchie hit a laser wide of the far post with 10 minutes to play.

Substitute Allan Saint-Maximin hammered a shot into Pope’s lap in the 86th.

Almiron led a drive into the right of the box, but saw his shot blocked out for a corner, and Ritchie saw a stoppage-time effort blocked as well.

Wood goal helps Burnley beat Newcastle, end mini-skid

Chris Wood Burnley
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Burnley got a little bit of luck and a finish from its big striker in a 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday at Turf Moorr, ending a three-match losing streak in the process.

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Chris Wood scored after a controversially-awarded corner, as the Clarets moved 12th on 21 points. That’s a point behind their Saturday visitors.


Three things we learned

1. Lucky Clarets cash in: Those who hate VAR and like a good old fashioned ref error that can’t be fixed by review will be loving this one. Burnley had little-to-nothing going for nearly an hour, but were given a corner when Federico Fernandez was shoved on the touch line and no whistle arrived to aid the center back. Ashley Westwood swept a corner over a sea of players and Kiwi star Wood rose to plant the ball in the goal at the back post.

2. Newcastle’s luck runs out: The Magpies entered this match on a 4-1-1 run and were beginning to entertain Top Seven ideas, but advanced stats said they had been quite lucky all season long. The misfortune of a call against Fernandez won’t sit well with Geordies, but perhaps there’s some comfort in knowing most calls had been going for Steve Bruce‘s men.

3. Gayle miss shows lack of depth: An injury to Allan Saint-Maximin was always going to be a problem for Steve Bruce, but minor injuries kept red-hot Jonjo Shelvey and lively-but-unconfident Miguel Almiron out of the team as well. Christian Atsu and Joelinton were far from clinical out wide, and Bruce turned to Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto off the bench. Gayle had one on a plate from Joelinton but fired wide on a chance which really should’ve provided a deserved point.

Man of the Match: James Tarkowski — The center back had his hands full and feet sore with the physical duo of Andy Carroll and Joelinton, but held firm in helping Burnley keep another zero on the board.


Andy Carroll captained the team and had the game’s first chance when he headed an inviting corner just wide of the frame.

Burnley’s Dwight McNeil forced Martin Dubravka into a save and a lively Isaac Hayden tore into a shot from 30 yards that sailed over the Clarets’ bar.

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Burnley went ahead on a corner that should’ve been a goal kick, but that doesn’t excuse an error from usually strong Martin Dubravka that allowed Wood to prod home at the back post.

Dubravka made amends when Sean Longstaff gave the ball to Cork in the middle of the park and dribbled himself into a 1v1 with the keeper.

Substitute Gayle butchered a chance to make it 1-1 when Joelinton bodied up Erik Pieters off a through ball from Carroll and sent the Englishman to the top of the six.

Burnley rebounds from ugly half to smash Watford

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Chris Wood, James Tarkowski, and Ashley Barnes all scored second half goals as Burnley rebounded from a rough first half to beat Watford 3-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

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Burnley are now sixth with 18 points. Watford’s dead last with eight.


3 things we learned

1. Burnley is a zombie movie where the zombies win: I literally have no idea how the Clarets keep manufacturing incredible results. The stats and eyes say they are getting bossed all over the park, but Sean Dyche‘s men believe they can find an opening in any game. And a lot of times, they do. The Clarets are unable to be killed, and every time a losing streak sees them dip toward the drop zone, you need only wait 28 days later (movie reference, achieved) to see them flirting with the upper reaches of the table.

2. Watford a team of poor Fortune: The Hornets really have been much better of late, with their dominant first half featuring six of the match’s seven shot attempts. Obviously they did not find a goal there, and it’s what cost them a trip outside the Bottom Three.

3. Tarkowski with another monstrous day… at both ends: Burnley’s steady center back was credited with seven aerial wins and three shots, then closing out the scoring. He’s one of those players like Harry Maguire when he was at Hull City; A big club ought to take a look.

Man of the Match: Tarkowski.


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Pulisic bags hat trick as Chelsea doubles up Burnley

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Christian Pulisic scored a perfect hat trick as Chelsea picked up its seventh-straight win in all competitions with a 4-2 defeat of Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.

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Willian also scored for the Blues, who will finish the weekend in fourth place with 20 points.

Pulisic’s hat trick makes him the youngest hat trick scorer in Chelsea history.

Dwight McNeil and Jay Rodriguez scored in the final five minutes for the Clarets.


Three things we learned

1. Pulisic’s primal scream of relief heard across the ocean: Here’s the bell ringer, Christian Pulisic’s first Premier League goal. The Yanks’ 21-year-old scored his first Premier League goal in a matching minute,, seizing on a bad touch from Matthew Lowton and dribbling James Tarkowski before rolling a low shot across goal past Nick Pope. A quality strike to beat two quality players.

He let out of a primal scream in celebration as he waited for his teammates to join the celebration. All things considered, it’s difficult to imagine how good the moment felt for the USMNT’s top man. He’d add a second by cooking Tarkowski to his other side and getting a deflection, and had three key passes in an incredible first half.

The third came in the second half with a nice header, and the opened floodgates were greeted with relief by so many in Chelsea blue and beyond.

2. Burnley broken down: The Clarets entered the day having kept clean sheets in three of four matches at home this season. The fourth was a 3-0 loss to Liverpool, and Chelsea made sure that it showed its Top Four acumen. Lowton’s giveaway on Pulisic’s first goal was poor and the second came via deflection, but Burnley’s fight back after halftime was brief. Chelsea controlled the match and you’d hate to bear the brunt of what Sean Dyche will likely bring to the post match team talk.

3. Rodriguez scores stunning consolation goal: Pulisic wasn’t perfect, as he gave away the ball that led to Burnley’s goal with five minutes to play. And what a goal it was, as Rodriguez struck a swerving rocket from distance to flummox Arrizabalaga. What a hit. Memories in style and meaning of Daniel Williams for the USMNT against Brazil.

Man of the Match: Are you serious?


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Despite an early injury which appeared to be to his head, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma made a nice clearance of a dangerously swung corner in the 13th minute.

Pulisic scored his first Premier League goal when he seized on that turnover and used his pace and craft to roll a shot past Pope.

That snapped Burnley to life, and Kepa Arrizabalaga was necessary in a sequence which saw the backstop paw away a shot through traffic.

Ashley Barnes badly missed a back post header which should’ve tied things up in the 30th minute.

Pulisic got his second with another powerful dribble through the heart of the attacking third, getting past Tarkowski and hitting a shot that took a turn off Ben Mee for 2-0.

Burnley came out of the dressing room with vigor. Barnes butchered a point blank chance to make it 2-1 in the 50th, the poacher not ready for prime time, and Jay Rodriguez sent a shot into the arms of Kepa Arrizabalaga.

That’s when Pulisic got his hat trick. After Burnley rejected a corner kick back to the taker, Mason Mount swept another cross into the mix and the American nodded it home.

Willian soon got in on the action with a low shot from the right, and Chelsea was home free.

Rodriguez scored his sensational goal off a Pulisic turnover, and McNeil’s heavily-deflected shot made it 4-2 with two minutes left.