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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)

PL Sunday Preview: Leicester travel to Burnley; Liverpool put perfect record on the line against Man Utd

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With eight Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 23.

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Burnley v. Leicester City  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Burnley are free falling and there doesn’t seem to be a safety net in sight.

The Clarets, who are two points removed from the relegation zone, head into a tough three-match window without striker Ashley Barnes. Recuperating from a hernia surgery, the 30-year-old is set to miss bouts against Leicester, Manchester United and Arsenal – to name some.

But quite possibly more alarming than that is the team’s recent form. Losing seven out of their last nine, just two points divide Burnley from the drop zone. Sean Dyche‘s team are clueless in the box, scoring one goal in four league bouts. Trouble looms over Turf Moor.

But even then, Dyche, who has made Burnley a force to be reckoned with in the past, believes his side are still a threat.

“They are a good side,” Dyche said about Leicester. “We are on a tough run of form, but I don’t think they are naive enough to think it is turn up and get the business done. We are not a million miles away.”

Can Burnley pull a Southampton and stun a top-four bound Leicester?

“We weren’t at our best [against Southampton] and we didn’t have the energy and intensity that we would have liked,” Brendan Rodgers said ahead of Sunday’s early match.

“We work twice as hard and that’s what we’ve done after every setback. We still have a lot to improve on.”

The Foxes had a rare full week to train, so one can bet that Rodgers is serious about his word.

INJURIES: Burnley —  OUT: Barnes (hernia), Gudmundsson (hamstring) | Leicester City — OUT: Ndidi (knee), Amartey (ankle), James (match fitness)

Liverpool v. Manchester United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Manchester United are a part of the exclusive anti-Liverpool club for more than the obvious reason.

Yes, the North West Derby is one of the league’s most heated rivalries, with countless flashbacks in its 203 meetings during its over 100 years of history.

But these two, star-studded squads led by Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, respectively, also have a permeating rivalry of their own. The Reds, who have yet to taste defeat this season, have dropped points to only United.

It can be argued that Sunday’s bout may be Liverpool’s most complicated and least favorable, despite maintaining an immaculate record at home. This is the “big one” that many didn’t particularly circle on the calendar.

“It’s a very, very important football game,” Klopp said. “Very important. We have to learn how to deal with games like this in the right manner. We haven’t done bad in the past but we can still improve.

“Old Trafford [a 1-1 draw in October] was a good example, [we were] not at our best because of their quality. We have to make it more likely we’re at our best.”

Solskjaer had his tactics in place last time around; a small injection of final quality and the team would have crushed Liverpool’s aspirations of matching the Iinvincibles or Manchester City’s points record.

“The last two performances [against Liverpool] at Old Trafford we have drawn twice and been close to winning both games, so we’ve got some games to look back at and that will give us loads of belief… if we perform to our best we have a chance to win,” Solskjaer said.

Sunday presents itself as the final chance for United to pull the upset, and reaffirm why they’re a part of the exclusive club to begin with. But Liverpool are slowing becoming invincible themselves.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: Lovren (hamstring), Clyne (knee), Keïta (groin), Milner (hamstring) | Manchester United  — OUT: Tuanzebe (hamstring), McTominay (knee), Pogba (ankle)

Hudson-Odoi scores first Premier League goal in Chelsea cruise

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Three different Chelsea players scored in a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

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Jorginho, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Tammy Abraham scored for Chelsea, who was without injured Christian Pulisic.

The Blues stay fourth in moving onto 39 points, while Burnley’s 24 are just four clear of the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Abraham’s baker dozen just the tip of the iceberg: Tammy Abraham has a nose for goal, and the 22-year-old now has 13 league goals this season despite not regularly impressing in other areas of the field. He may still dip in and out of play, sometimes for entire halves, but watch out if Frank Lampard is able to harness his knack for goal into a complete product.

2. Burnley tempting fate: We’re not here to doubt Sean Dyche, but the statistics are quite ready to ask whether the Clarets can defy logic again to remain in the Premier League. Over-simplified: Burnley readily concedes possession and doesn’t pass the ball well, depending on hustle and pressure to produce chances (as well as long balls lumped to the forwards). Its 68 percent passing will finish last in the top flight, and we’re able to project that in January. Still Dyche will probably just beat up everyone and finish 15th. His teams get it done.

3. James staking his claim: Chelsea’s 20-year-old right back Reece James was very good again on Saturday, providing an assist and forcing Nick Pope into a big save in the first half. Already an excellent passer with a willingness to tackle, the future is very much his for the taking.

Man of the Match: Willian had his nose in everything his side of the pitch, and just gets the nod over James.


Burnley thought it was ahead when Jeff Hendrick headed Ben Mee‘s flick home, but the midfielder was offside.

Chelsea then found its way to the spot when Matthew Lowton‘s short slide caught Willian inside the box.

Jorginho calmly wrong-footed Nick Pope for 1-0 in the 28th.

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The Blues made it 2-0 when Reece James crossed for Abraham to nod past a baffled Pope.

The Burnley keeper would make a point-blank save on James in the 41st for a measure of redemption.

Hudson-Odoi broke his Premier League duck in the 49th minute, the first to Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross as Burnley’s defenders were nowhere.

Premier League Preview: Burnley v. Manchester United

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Manchester United looks to keep up its push toward the Top Four with a visit to Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday (Watch Live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The afternoon meeting will see United aiming to continue the fireworks started in a 4-1 demolition of Newcastle on Boxing Day.

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Burnley saw a two-match winning run halted by Everton, and the Clarets sit five points from fifth and six points from the Bottom Three.

Will Paul Pogba make his first start since Sept. 30? The influential midfielder looked his usual self in a 45-minute appearances versus Newcastle on Thursday.


Injuries/suspensions

Burnley: OUT —  Ben Gibson. QUESTIONABLE — Aaron Lennon.

Manchester United: OUT — Scott McTominay. QUESTIONABLE — Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Marcos Rojo.


Probable lineups

Burnley: Pope, Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton, McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson, Barnes, Wood.

Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Pereira, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial.


What they’re saying 

Burnley’s Sean Dyche on the late loss to Everton: “The defending point of view it was just finding the details to open up the opposition, which, over the calendar year, we’ve done well. We’ve progressed on that side of things by scoring more goals, and looking like we’re going to score more goals. Within that, a few details, obviously we’re still trying to protect (Ashley Barnes) and get him through games. It’s one of those things with the two games in three days.”

Pogba on handing out anti-racism wristbands: “I think we have the chance to have this power to show things in football, on TV. People see it so I think that will make people understand some things. I think it’s ignorance. Ignorance and stuff like that, and just to show people that you are all one. We are all one.”


Prediction

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to rest Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial toward the end of the Newcastle blowout, and may hand a first start to Paul Pogba. It all adds up to too much for Burnley, even with Scott McTominay missing for the Red Devils. Man Utd, 3-0.

Dyche, Mourinho meet on the streets of London

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Two Premier League managers walk into each other while shopping: It’s not the start of a joke, even if it sounds like one.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was out shopping earlier this week when he heard a familiar voice call his name.

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It was Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who was out shopping with his family one day after losing 5-0 to Spurs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Dyche relayed the story Thursday while his club gets ready for a home match versus Newcastle United on Saturday, saying the pair spoke for a few minutes.

“I’ll tell you a little life story,” Dyche began at his prematch press conference.

From the Lancashire Telegraph:

“His face was actually more shocked than mine, because he was plodding along and I saw him with his hat on, and he shot his head up and said a bad word, and then said sorry, your wife and children are there!

“But he was very pleasant – as he would be after smashing us the day before. We had six or seven minutes chatting about how he’s settling, life in general, that sort of stuff. He was very pleasant.”

As Dyche points out, it’s odd that two of just 20 Premier League managers would run into each other on the streets of one of the biggest cities on Earth, especially since Burnley is quite a drive from London. Many PL personalities do live far from their adopted homes, though, and Dyche played for Millwall and played for and managed Watford.

Anyway, just a neat story for your Thursday evening.