Will Burnley stick or twist at Aston Villa?

In 425 games in charge of Burnley, Sean Dyche decided to start with three centre backs just three times.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 12:30 pm

While looking for a way out of a dismal start to the season in 2018/19, as the Clarets approached the halfway stage of the season, with just 12 points in the bag from 16 games, Dyche opted for a back three at Tottenham, where the Clarets lost to an injury time goal from Christian Eriksen at Wembley, at Arsenal, going down 2-1, and then at home to Everton on Boxing Day, when the experiment was abandoned completely, after a 5-1 defeat.

But after five games as interim boss, Mike Jackson, even in the absence of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, decided that system was the best way to combat Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, and but for a harsh penalty award right on half-time, the gameplan worked a treat, giving Burnley defensive solidity, while enabling them to provide an attacking threat as well, creating one of the chances of the game for Maxwel Cornet, while Ashley Barnes rattled a shot against the post in the second half.

So, having lost to Aston Villa in the tried and tested 4-4-2 just under a fortnight ago, what to do at Villa Park on Thursday night?

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Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane (top) vies with Burnley's Irish defender Nathan Collins (C) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on May 15, 2022. - - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

It is horses for courses, or did the formation work that well at Spurs, that Jackson will look to use it again?

He said: “I thought for that game, and the way the group went about it, they attacked what they needed to do.

"I thought we nullified their threats and we grew into the game as it went along.

"But you have to look at the team you are playing against, and the personnel you have available to get the best result and performance on a day.

"We didn't get the result that we wanted, but I wouldn't change anything in terms of preparation or how we went about it. It has turned on a decision.”

No matter which system Burnley use, however, Jackson insisted Burnley’s DNA essentially remains the same: “I think with systems, within it there is a set of principles, and if you speak to any coach they will tell you there is a set of principles within that shape that your group stays close to, on and off the ball.

"You will still be trying to achieve the same things in and out of possession.

"When I was younger, you would look at shapes, and 3-5-2 or a diamond, but it is the principles and whether you press or drop and what suits your team.”