Evolution not revolution required as Burnley give themselves another impossible mountain to climb against Tottenham

Three games, three defeats and 11 goals conceded isn’t the start Burnley would have envisaged when they applied the finishing touches to their unbelievable 101-point season in the Championship back in May.
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Vincent Kompany on Burnley's heavy defeat to Tottenham, defensive issues and poi...

But that’s been the biggest lesson so far, this isn’t the Championship. The Premier League is a different beast entirely.

We all knew that, but it’s not until you experience it up close and personal you realise just how significant the gap is between the two divisions. It appears to have got even bigger since Burnley were last here, too.

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It won’t have gone unnoticed that the Clarets lost just three games all season in the Championship, a record they’ve matched when we’re barely in September.

It’s not helped playing some top quality opposition in the first three games either in Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham, but the Clarets haven’t helped themselves either.

There’s a fine line between bravery and recklessness and at this moment in time, three games in, Burnley are edging towards the latter rather than the former.

We all knew Vincent Kompany wouldn’t change tact: this is his approach and he’ll stick to it. If it’s not working as planned, the task is to make it better.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Cristian Romero of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Cristian Romero of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Cristian Romero of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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There will be some, mostly from the outside, that demand a drastic change in approach, even this early into the new season. But I’d argue it’s got to be a case of evolution, rather than revolution. We’re talking tweaks and adjustments rather than wholescale changes.

Burnley aren’t all of a sudden going to decamp in their own half and throw all 11 men behind the ball. That would completely neutralise the one positive we’ve witnessed so far this season, which is the chance creation against top quality opposition. In all three games the Clarets have possessed a threat and that shouldn’t be ignored.

But at the same time, they’ve also been far too easy to play against and have been sliced open with an alarming ease. They’re clearly susceptible to the counter-attack and so far haven’t had an answer for it.

But that’s not to say it will stay that way forever and it’s Kompany task now, with a 16-day break until they’re next in action against Nottingham Forest, to make those adjustments to ensure his Burnley side are a little tighter, a bit more difficult to play against.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Lyle Foster of Burnley celebrates with teammate Luca Koleosho after scoring the team's first goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Lyle Foster of Burnley celebrates with teammate Luca Koleosho after scoring the team's first goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Lyle Foster of Burnley celebrates with teammate Luca Koleosho after scoring the team's first goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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Because so far, it’s been far too easy for opposition teams – expected goals (xG) of 2.40 (City), 2.84 (Villa) and 2.40 again (Spurs) proves the point.

Yes, the level of opposition has been of a high standard but you’ve at least got to make them work for it.

The ideal start

At least on this occasion it was Burnley, not the visitors, who got off to a lightning-fast start, because against both City and Villa Kompany’s men found themselves a goal behind inside the opening 10 minutes.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Spurs striker Heung-Min Song scores the first Tottenham goal past goalkeeper James Trafford during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Spurs striker Heung-Min Song scores the first Tottenham goal past goalkeeper James Trafford during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Spurs striker Heung-Min Song scores the first Tottenham goal past goalkeeper James Trafford during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It took just four for Lyle Foster to give Burnley an early lead, diverting home Luca Koleosho’s pullback with a cleverly-executed first-time finish for his second of the season.

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At the time it was thoroughly deserved too, because the hosts came surging out of the blocks led by the exuberant Koleosho, who caused Tottenham all sorts of problems all day long before being forced off late on with a slight knock.

Unfortunately, Koleosho and Foster aside, there weren’t too many other individual performances to write home about and it wasn’t long until Tottenham worked their way back into the match.

Now led by the likeable Australian Ange Postecoglu – and no, that’s not an oxymoron – Spurs are much more of a front-footed outfit, as opposed to the dire sit-back-and-wait-for-something-to-happen approach of both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.

Despite losing Harry Kane, they appear to have evolved into a better all-round unit thanks to their fiercely intent press and their ability to play out from the back, even when under real pressure themselves.

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Yet it was a rudimentary long ball over the top which brought them back onto level terms. Jordan Beyer – who looked rusty on his earlier-than-expected return to the side – was beaten for pace by Son, who exchanged a quick one-two with Manor Solomon before beating James Trafford with a delightful chip.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, embraces Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur after the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, embraces Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur after the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, embraces Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur after the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 02, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

From this point onwards the visitors dominated and never looked back. James Maddison, the pantomime villain of the afternoon with his penchant for a dramatic dive, was the heartbeat of their team, pulling the strings and pulling Burnley from pillar to post in the process.

The killer blow was landed in first-half stoppage-time when Christian Romero, a defender, let’s not forget, smashed one in-off the post from outside the box.

That changed the dynamic of the game entirely, providing the freedom for Spurs in the second-half to play even more expansively, subsequently turning in further goals, another two from Son to complete his hat-trick, while Maddison also got in on the act with a clinical finish from range.

Keep the faith

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When the fifth went in, that was the cue for a number of Clarets to get up and make their way home. You can’t blame them, the game was as good as done.

But I must say, the fans that remained stuck with their team when it would have been easy to turn and voice their displeasure. But they didn’t and somehow it was the Burnley fans you could hear singing for the final 10 minutes or so, not the Tottenham contingent.

That’s a good sign. That suggests the fanbase remains on board with Kompany’s approach despite the tough start to the campaign. That shouldn’t be underestimated because there will be plenty more tough assignments to come.

But it’s still early days yet. This isn’t the time for panic and knee-jerk reactions. If Burnley can make those adjustments and become a little bit harder to break down, while keeping their sharpness in attack, there’s still plenty to be excited about.