BURNLEY are going home for Christmas – and Clarets boss Eddie Howe hopes it’s a happy time as he eyes a top six place.
A third successive away win at nine-man Brighton on Saturday moved Burnley to within five points of the play-offs, with Doncaster Rovers and Hull to travel to Turf Moor over the festive period.
And Howe intends to replicate his side’s form on their travels – where they have won six games this season – in front of their own fans, where three points have been harder to come by.
Burnley have won only three home league games this term, and Howe admitted: “We need to improve our home form, there’s no doubt about that. That’s our next big focus, to try to turn some of those defeats to wins at home, and if we can do that, and keep our away record strong, we’re going to have a really good chance.
“Teams don’t make it easy for us at Turf Moor. I think a lot of teams respect us on our own patch, so it’s up to us to turn that around.”
Four wins in five games – only punctuated by an injury time defeat at home to Portsmouth last weekend – have seen the Clarets climb from the foot of the table into play-off contention.
Their latest win came in surreal circumstances, as Brighton saw Romain Vincelot and Ashley Barnes sent off in the first 12 minutes, before Kieran Trippier rifled in what proved to be the winner just after the half-hour mark.
But Burnley’s inconsistency over the first half of the season sums up a competitive Championship.
Howe feels there is little to choose from between all 24 sides – as next opponents Doncaster showed – as bottom beat top of the table Southampton a fortnight ago: “It’s a very difficult league to predict. Week in, week out you go to difficult grounds, you play good teams, really well-organised teams and I don’t think there’s a lot between the sides – even the top and the bottom sides.
“You can take a couple out of that – Southampton have had a great year and West Ham are very strong.
“But the rest of us, I think we’re fighting for the same positions.
“We say it all the time, but whoever gets the consistent results will be the eventual successors of the season.
“We’re trying to join that group but it is incredibly difficult.
“We’ve won four out of five so, hopefully, we’re going in the right direction, but we still know we’ve got work to do.”