Bournemouth 2, Burnley 1 - things we learned

Things we learned from Burnley's 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 14th May 2017, 2:50 pm
Updated Monday, 15th May 2017, 9:35 am
Scott Arfield is denied by Artur Boruc
Scott Arfield is denied by Artur Boruc

40 points and safe

A startling statistic caught my eye ahead of Burnley’s trip to AFC Bournemouth.

Chelsea sealed the title with a 1-0 win at West Brom the night before, that meant Tony Pulis’ various sides have won only six of the 45 Premier League games they have played, after reaching 40 points in a campaign.

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The Clarets hit the magic mark last weekend, ironically against Pulis’ Baggies.

Sam Vokes’ late leveller effectively ensured Burnley retained top flight status.

But, with all the pressure off at the Vitality Stadium, the Clarets didn’t perform with the freedom that can give you.

Indeed, it was pretty much the opposite, as boss Sean Dyche noted after the game, feeling his players’ performance was a “bit flat”.

Reaching 40 points essentially guarantees safety - indeed, it is often more than enough.

Only once in a 20-team Premier League season has a team been relegated with 40 points or more, when West Ham were demoted with 42 in 2003.

Often you see sides relax when they reach the holy grail, as, seemingly, that was the case with Burnley on the south coast.

The saying goes that “the players had their flip flops on”, and Dyche, whose will to win every game, be it a friendly or competitive outing, is well documented, admitted: “I don’t want to be hyper-critical of the players, because they’ve had some really big games, really important games lately, and to get to that 40-point mark I think was a big sigh of relief as much as anything.

“It looked like ‘lets come down here and get the game done’, type-thinking, that subliminal ‘we’ve got the job done” type-thinking, and that can work either way - sometimes it gives you a lift, and sometimes you can be a bit flat.”

It has often felt churlish criticising his side over a season where they have over-achieved and more in not only securing back to back Premier League seasons for the first time, and the first time in the top flight since the mid-1970s.

While there was some consternation when a 10-point cushion from 18th place was cut to five, Burnley have, you could argue, not even flirted with a relegation scrap.

They have been in the bottom three once all season, remarkably - after losing 1-0 at home to Swansea on the opening day, they were 18th in the embryonic league table.

Dyche won't stand still after survival

Sean Dyche will not want to stand still after sealing survival.

He will be desperate to continue moving forward to maintain his quite incredible legacy at the club.

That means improving on an away showing which has produced seven points - with one win - from 19 games on the road all season.

Burnley will surely do well to replicate or improve on their home form next term, which has seen them collect 33 points, with 10 wins, ahead of the season finale against West Ham on Sunday.

And, while you could understand the Clarets not firing on all cylinders with the job done, to all intents and purposes, this was another example of them not looking like themselves on their travels.

There were mitigating factors, with Michael Keane - will we see him in a Burnley shirt again? - and Ben Mee still sidelined with injury, while Bournemouth, under former Clarets boss Eddie Howe, are a formidable opponent.

The Clarets struggled to find their high-tempo, front foot, aggressive nature, however, and while it took a late goal to see them off, seconds after Sam Vokes equalised at his first club, it was a deserved defeat.

Strength in depth

Over recent weeks, Burnley have had around £30m of talent on the bench alone - a sign of the times and of things to come.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson - a £2.5m bargain last summer - came on to show his quality with a fine cross for Sam Vokes' sumptuous headed equaliser.

The Iceland wideman has been cruelly hit with injury this season, but looks at home at this level, and will surely only improve.

The same can be said of record signing Robbie Brady, who looks to need a pre-season to fully assimilate into the side and Sean Dyche's ways.

Andre Gray came on at half time, and can be pleased with his campaign, though clearly he still has much development in him and much to learn in the Premier League. Hopefully that development will be with Burnley.

Nick Pope was again on the bench as he learns about life at this level, and while his way to the side is barred by, for me, one of the best in the league, he clearly has great potential.

However, you wonder whether we will see Steven Defour in a Burnley shirt again. There is no doubting his talent, but whispers of him being unsettled persist, and it seems likely he will move on, with rumours of a switch to China, while he has also been linked with Nantes in France.