Burnley boss Sean Dyche wants more of the same at Bournemouth
And, to that end, he feels that hope will be helped by the likely return of more players from injury.
On Saturday, Burnley looked more like themselves as they ended a run of three defeats with a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at Turf Moor, as Ashley Westwood and Ashley Barnes returned from injury.
Charlie Taylor and Kevin Long are both expected to be available at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow, while Johann Berg Gudmundsson is close to fitness ahead of the busy Festive period.
And Dyche said: “It’s the old favourite, the edge, front-foot mentality, and it’s a very generalised statement, but when it’s there, you can tell, you can smell it within the group, and I could on Saturday.
“I couldn’t against Spurs and Man City, we were subservient to what the task really was.
“I didn’t think that against Palace, that was two mistakes in a decent performance, so we weren’t a million miles away.
“And to get back on it on Saturday, I think you can clearly see it - there was that intensity to the performance, somewhat helped by players getting back fit - that competitive edge comes back into the group. They look around and all of a sudden there is a bigger competition because people are getting fitter.
“Westy came in, Barnesy - I was pleased with that decision because we could have played him at Tottenham, decided not to and he came back sharp, and Westy played very well.
“We have better news coming, Charlie Taylor, Kevin Long, Johann we hope will get some minutes, so better news, and monitoring the ones we have to keep an eye on to make sure they stay fit.”
Burnley had lost that edge, particularly against Manchester City and Spurs, and Dyche added: “I think there’s a lot of honesty to the group, and they know, I remind them about it sometimes, but I’ve been working with some of them a long time and they know when they’ve come off the mark in their performance levels.
“The main thing we spoke about before the Newcastle game was, when we are going really well, we play with an edge, like a competitive edge, and it was there on show. If you sometimes drop that 1%, especially against the super power teams, it’s more exaggerated, because if they turn up and you don’t, they can hurt you.
“But the competitive edge on Saturday was quite clear, I thought.”
That win took Burnley 12th, with 21 points, nine more than after 19 games last term, and Dyche is pleased with the way his players have performed so far this season: “It’s certainly respectable, it shows a big step forward from last season, which I have spoken about since pre-season, because I thought the players came back with that little more edge to what they were doing.
“We’ve come away from it a couple of times, which has cost us, against very good sides it must be said, but a really strong performance on Saturday in tough conditions, a tight game which Brucey’s teams are making them this season.
“So to come away with three points was really pleasing.”
The form over the calendar year, since the Boxing Day defeat to Everton left Burnley in grave danger, 18th on 12 points at halfway, has also been impressive.Burnley have won 14 and drawn seven of the 36 games since, scoring 50 and conceding 56: “It’s decent, a big turnaround last Christmas, and the increase in demand of the players and the performances, has been very good. A few blips along the way, but that happens in the Premier League. Overall, I think we’ll look back on a very strong year.”
Burnley have won on their last two trips to Bournemouth, but Dyche knows his players will have to be at their best for a hat-trick: “Bournemouth are a good side, I’m a big fan of Eddie’s, he’s done a great job and continues to do so.
“They’ve had a few injuries as well, come out of a really tough run with a good result at Chelsea.
“Never easy going down there, that’s certainly a place where, down the years, it can fix people because it’s not really a big Premier League stadium, but you have to go down there with the right intensity and intent, because they’ve made that place tough.
“We have had good results down there, but that’s because we have delivered good performances, and we’re definitely going to have to do that again.”