Things we learned - Swansea City 1, Burnley 0
Chris Boden looks back on the 1-0 defeat at Swansea City yesterday.
Has the break come at a good time?
Burnley have to wait until February 24th for their next game, and the visit of Southampton to Turf Moor, as they have a free weekend after their FA Cup exit.
Boss Sean Dyche feels the break will benefit his players, and they will go away to Portugal for some sun on their backs as they take out the frustrations of the 1-0 defeat at Swansea - a 10th Premier League game without a win.
Dyche said: “A couple of weeks have come at the right time, I think the players need a break from it.”
He hopes to have Chris Wood and James Tarkowski back to face the Saints, while the likes of Stephen Ward - back on the bench at Swansea - and Tom Heaton will have another fortnight’s training under their belts.
Charlie Taylor has filled in admirably for Ward since the middle of December, in his first taste of Premier League football, and Kevin Long has largely done well in the absence of Tarkowski and Ben Mee.
Nick Pope also has risen to the challenge since Heaton dislocated their shoulder in September.
But the Clarets need their experienced men, the big characters, back fully fit and available as soon as possible, whether that is to take players out of the firing line, to provide competition for places in a stretched squad, or bring their wealth of knowledge to a tricky situation.
Dyche said: “Once the group are back together again, they all look around and say ‘alright, this is us getting back to where we are as a collective’, and I think that’s important when you have such a tight knit group.”
Sean Dyche was recently lauded in statistics which showed he made the most attacking changes of any manager in the Premier League, with 67.3% of his substitutions.
Burnley so often stay in games and then often claim points late on - only Manchester City have won more points in the final 10 minutes of games this season.
But the changes made at Swansea by both managers proved pivotal.
One of the key shifts in the momentum of the game came in the final quarter as Carlos Carvalhal introduced forwards Tammy Abraham and £18m deadline day signing Andre Ayew, either side of Scott Arfield coming on for Aaron Lennon for Burnley.
The changes were statements of intent, as Carvalhal so colourfully put it afterwards: “We put all the meat in the barbecue, all the meat inside the grill, because we wish a lot to win the game.”
While Lennon’s influence had waned in the second half, it looked like the Clarets were happy to protect the point, and ultimately paid the price.
Lack of goals
Burnley have the fourth best defensive record in the division, shipping just 24 in 27 league games.
Only Manchester City, United and Chelsea have conceded fewer.
The Clarets have also only seven first half goals in 30 games in all competitions this term.
But, they have only scored five in their last 10 league outings and only 21 in 27 league games.
Only Swansea have scored fewer, with bottom side West Brom also on 21 after Huddersfield hit three against Bournemouth on Sunday to leapfrog to 22 goals.
They have been able to score against the ‘Big Six’ above them, netting nine goals, but have only 12 goals against the 13 below them, conversely.
While Johann Berg Gudmundsson is providing chances - a statistic during the Sky game against City last Saturday showed only Kevin De Bruyne has carved out more openings than the Iceland international since the beginning of December - the Clarets are struggling to put them away.
Chris Wood remains the top league goal scorer with four, though Sam Vokes would also have four but for his equaliser at Newcastle going down as a Karl Darlow own goal.
Boss Sean Dyche isn’t overly concerned, however: “We’re not conceding a lot, not scoring a lot. We weren’t conceding a lot at the beginning of the season and not scoring loads, but we were edging things in games, with a slightly better quality of chance.”