Burnley may find themselves in unfamiliar territory: they will need to fight hard to avoid relegation.
With Watford and Southampton renewed spirit, the relegation battle in the Premier League has been blown wide open. Watford didn’t win a game until late November, but with Nigel Pearson’s help, the club has been reinvigorated with new energy. They won more points in five games under Pearson than they did in the 16 games they played before he arrived. The same has been happening for Southampton who have gained 10 points over the Christmas season. During that time, they jumped from 18th to 12th in the league table.
Norwich, on the other hand, are in real trouble. They haven’t won any of their previous eight matches and are now seven points clear of relegation. However, there are more things that are of concern, 19th place Watford and 11th place Everton are separated by just six points. Not every club in the lower half of the league table is in trouble, but some well-established Premier League clubs should now start to worry. One of those concerned clubs is Burnley especially since they are on a three-game losing streak.
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The most recent of those defeats was a loss to Aston Villa which is the most concerning one yet. The Clarets were outplayed so badly during the first half. After the break, Sean Dyche’s side fought back valiantly but ultimately lost 2-1. The loss isn’t that disastrous if you look at it on its own, but given their upcoming matches, it would have been a necessity. The club will face Chelsea, followed by matches against Leicester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Southampton.
As it stands, they are the underdogs in their next five matches. In the past, it’s something that Dyche would want very much as he sees it as a challenge, but with their current situation, he doesn’t want to play with his chances. Their record against some big-name league clubs was very poor – a 5-0 loss to Tottenham, a 4-1 loss to Manchester City, a 4-2 loss to Chelsea, and a 3-0 loss to Liverpool. All seven victories have been against teams that are in the lower half of the league table. On the other hand, they lost all 14 games where they gave up goals.
Scoring has been a big problem the club has been facing lately. They scored just four goals in their last eight league games with Chris Wood, the club’s top scorer, taking much of the credit. Ashley Barnes started the season well, scoring four goals in his first three games. Ever since, he has just scored twice in 16 matches. The midfielders haven’t been scoring either – Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood haven’t scored all season long. They aren’t expected to score regularly, but they aren’t fulfilling their defensive duties as well.
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Words: Carlos Corpus