Burnley Prove There Is More To The Premier League Than Just Trying To Survive

Ahead of the visit of Burnley this weekend, TEB had a chat with Dave Roberts from BURNLEY STATS and the NO NAY NEVER podcast about the season so far, views on the game and much more.

Q. What did you make of the game between the two sides at Turf Moor earlier in the season?

The reverse fixture back in November was a vital win for Burnley, and being the first Premier League victory we had managed since the start of the season, it was extremely welcome at the time. There wasn’t too much to choose between the teams, but Chris Wood getting the early goal helped, and I thought Burnley just edged it on the balance of the play over the ninety minutes. However, we were grateful for a terrific brave save late in the game by Nick Pope from Christian Benteke to ensure that we took all three points.

Q. How has this campaign been for Burnley so far?

We had a very sluggish start, which was a worry, but we have started to look more like ourselves again recently. This has been driven, to a large extent, by the return of key players, especially our captain Ben Mee. His partnership with James Tarkowski, combined with the presence in goal of Nick Pope is the bedrock on which many of the good things we do as a team, is built. Recent results have helped to build a healthy eight point gap between ourselves and the bottom three and although we can never take anything for granted, I am very hopeful that Sean Dyche and the team will have enough to keep ourselves in the Premier League for yet another season.

Q. How have the new owners settled in and is there much in the way of change expected going forward for Burnley?

It’s still early days. ALK, and Chairman Alan Pace, have barely got their feet under the boardroom table yet. It was slightly surprising that we were unable to get any new signings over the line in January, although there was very little activity across the league. Most Burnley fans appear to recognise that we have failed to recruit in successive transfer windows, which only pushes the issue further down the line. We seem to say it every time, but the next transfer window will be vital, if Sean Dyche is to get the help he needs to bolster his options, and try to reverse what is increasingly becoming an ageing squad.

There seems to have been a growing realisation over the last few years that the previous Chairman and board of directors could not keep up with their peers in the league, and outside help would be needed. It remains to be seen if the new board, and their approach, can help the club to become more competitive. However, other than hearing one or two dissenting voices, the majority of Burnley fans obviously wish them well, but the owners will be judged by their actions, and not by their words.

Q. Having experienced European football, is there a hunger for fans to experience more in the future?

The 7th place finish in 2017/18, and another top half finish last season, provide some hope that there’s more to the Premier League than just trying to survive, and targeting a 17th place finish for every new campaign. The fact that we have done it once, provides hope that it is possible to emulate the achievement again in the near future. Assuming life can start to return closer to normality, following the pandemic, I am sure that Burnley fans would be delighted to have the chance to experience European football again, and to at least have a full group stage campaign the next time.

Q. How was your business in the January transfer window and do you have needs that have not been addressed?

The club only added one minor signing to our under 23 squad, and did not address any areas of the pitch, which need strengthening in terms of the first team squad. At some point, soon, we are going to need a replacement for James Tarkowski, who looks likely to move on in the summer. Other positions, like right back and right midfield, especially, are in need of reinforcements to ensure that there are players ready to make the step up to the first team.

Q. Who has been the stand out player for Burnley so far this season?

It’s tough to pick just one, but bearing in mind we are been better defensively than in attack, I would probably choose Nick Pope, who continues to show why he deserves to be England’s number 1 goalkeeper. He made his Premier League debut against Palace at Turf Moor back in 2017, when Tom Heaton injured his shoulder. He was a relative unknown then, but he has gone from strength to strength, despite his own shoulder injury in our first competitive European fixture for over 50 yards at Aberdeen, the following season.

Q. What do you make of Palace this season?

It feels to me like it has also been a rather indifferent season so far, for Palace. Although I expect you to survive comfortably, there hasn’t been enough consistency, yet, to make a concerted push for the top half. I also feel like you are very dependent on Wilfried Zaha, and a dip in form from him, or an injury, would make things more challenging. However, Roy Hodgson is a very experienced manager and with him at the helm, you’re not going to experience any difficulties.

Q. It has been a tough time for everyone but football fans and clubs have certainly played their part during the pandemic and pulled together which has been particularly pleasing, right?

It has been difficult for many supporters, especially those of us who regularly attend matches and have been forced to watch from our sofas instead. It is a little bit surreal that last season was completed, and most of this season has been played without any fans inside grounds. Personally, I have found that my involvement on the No Nay Never podcast, for whom I co-host a preview show, prior to every Premier League game, has helped to keep me in touch with what’s happening, and they’re a great bunch of people to be involved with. I also feel that podcasts in general can help to keep other supporters up to date with what is happening, and be a friendly voice to hear from time to time.

Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.

In terms of the Palace team, although Zaha would be an obvious name to pick, as he always seems to cause us problems, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of Eberechi Eze so far. For Burnley, Dwight McNeil is now back in the team after missing a couple of matches, and is probably the most likely to try and unlock the Palace defence.

Q. …and finally, your all important prediction?

I think it will be a relatively close game, and I’d like to think we can go to Selhurst Park and come away with at least a point, so I’m going to predict a 1-1 draw.

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