sIan Daichi is not a man to worry about his league position in mid-December. In three of the past four seasons, Burnley have not scored more than two league wins before the last month of the year. It was in the Emirates on December 13 last year that they beat Arsenal to claim their second win of the season, in a period of 11 points from six matches. It’s an action they may need to repeat to avoid a return to the Championship.
Burnley spent four years looking for their home in the Premier League, but last season they started to advance, as they finished 17th with 39 points, 11 ahead of the fearsome third place holder and scored just 33 goals. It was their lowest number of points and goals since they returned to the top flight in 2016 and a sign that things need to improve.
Within the squad, this season’s mental barrier was broken when Brentford were defeated to claim Burnley’s first win on the 10th out of question in late October, giving the players the mantra that the campaign began after that game.
They are a resilient team, they know their strengths and make sure they play ahead of them, and they don’t let each other lag for a split second that could cost a team like Burnley, who wins or loses by good margins.
Daichi was angered by Burnley’s first-half performance against West Ham on Sunday, but is happy to respond to his criticism at halftime, a sign he can still get a positive reaction from his side. Morale is still high within the team and they believe two positive results in a row will turn their season around. They hope to start it at home against rivals Watford, who are relegated to the second division on Wednesday. This is followed by a trip to Aston Villa, before struggling Everton come to Turf Moor, giving Burnley goals.
“We have a reality for most seasons here,” Dyche says. “It’s not every season – we’ve made some big ends – but most seasons are a challenge for us. We know the market we’re in, we know how it works. It’s all well and good knowing that, but you still have to go out and make shows… because football is I don’t owe you anything – that’s something I’ve been talking to guys about.”
Burnley’s continued presence in the Premier League is built on a successful defense. They have conceded 21 goals in 15 matches, three times less than fifth-placed Manchester United, en route to a single win and eight draws that have left them in the relegation zone, two points behind Watford with a game in hand.
Nick Pope, Matt Lawton, James Tarkowski, Ben May and Charlie Taylor provide the basis for an attacking team but the lack of quality and ambition in the final third is costing Burnley.
“We’re slowly but surely back to where I think we could be, definitely with clean sheets and tighter matches and draws,” Daichi said. “We know very well that we have to get wins with these draws.”
A goal ratio of less than one in the game shows where the shortcomings are and the reason for the many draws. Maxwell Cornet, who joined in the summer, is top scorer with five out of 10 matches in the Premier League, but has had two injuries since arriving from Lyon, and without him Burnley looked rude, with their regular star Chris Wood scoring three goals in 16 games. Cornet provided an individual improvement to the front line but this did not have a collective effect as the others struggle to find the target.
Asked how he has tried to improve attack this season, Daichi said: “People – with Cornet coming in to add a different flavor to it, to add a different feel to our way of playing. That’s the plan and he definitely did that. We hope that he opens the field for others to score more goals. “. Cornet’s influence can only last so far in a team where Jay Rodriguez has scored nine league goals in 79 games since returning in 2019, and Mate Vedra has scored seven goals in three and a half seasons at Turf Moor.
Cornet has been a breath of fresh air for Burnley, bringing much-needed confidence to the underinvestmented team in recent years, and a sign of how the club can capitalize on wise moves in the market.
Recruitment in January is in the pipeline but available funds are unknown and if they fail to secure key targets, while clubs like Newcastle are investing, it could leave them further behind.
Burnley have written the history books about the survival of the Premier League, so they will be confident of finishing above the red line. But December’s run could determine whether they get their seventh consecutive season in the First Division or are left behind.