Burnley were predicted to be fighting in a relegation scrap all season long, but the perfect combination of talent and heart saw them guarantee a spot alongside Europe’s elite.
Difficult start produced a result for the ages
It all started on the opening weekend when the Clarets faced a seemingly impossible task, as they travelled to Stamford Bridge to take on the defending Champions Chelsea.
After two Chelsea red cards, two Sam Vokes goals either side of a Stephen Ward screamer followed by a Sean Dyche defensive masterclass in the second half led Burnley to a famous opening day 3-2 win.
August and September saw more major scalps alongside disappointing results
However, the following week produced a disappointing result, with a 0-1 home defeat against West Brom, although August did finish on a high for the Clarets with a 2-0 win against local rivals Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup before another spirited performance at the home of another top six side, this time snatching a draw in the final minutes against Spurs.
September saw Burnley go undefeated in the Premier League, following a win at home against Crystal Palace which was followed by another quality performance against one of the top sides, drawing with Liverpool at Anfield.
A defeat in the League Cup to Leeds United on penalties was the only blemish throughout the month before a 0-0 draw against newly promoted Huddersfield. Everton were the first test of October, but the Clarets held on to record a 1-0 win at Goodison Park to see Burnley jump up to sixth in the Premier League, one point outside the top four.
Solidity throughout the winter stabilised the Clarets' season
October continued after the International break with Dyche’s men stumbling into a 1-1 draw with the ten men of West Ham, before being dismantled by undefeated Manchester City in the Clarets first defeat since August, falling to the future champions 3-0.
Three games followed against lower in the table opposition and the Clarets did not dissapoint with three wins with a patient 1-0 win against Newcastle, a late Chris Wood led to another 1-0 win, this time away at Southampton before a controlled 2-0 win against Swansea at Turf Moor to move back to within a point of the top four.
Next up was Arsenal and, despite Burnley holding the game right to the very end, the Clarets were unable to find a way past Arsene Wenger’s men after James Tarkowski was adjudged to have fouled Aaron Ramsey in the box in the final minutes. It was this game when Burnley started to gain a new level of respect from people thanks to their fantastic performances.
Wins against Bournemouth and Watford were separated by a 1-0 defeat at Leicester City when Robbie Brady suffered a serious season ending knee injury before a win and a draw against Stoke City and at Brighton respectively. A poor showing against Spurs saw the Clarets fall to a 3-0 home defeat before a fantastic first half display including a beautiful free kick from Steven Defour set Burnley on their way to a famous 2-2 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
The Clarets faltered in the new year
Burnley failed to win a game in January and February in 2018, falling to league defeats against Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Manchester United and a pummeling 4-1 defeat at Manchester City in the FA Cup.
Two draws followed against Newcastle and Manchester City as, despite the outcomes of the games in 2018 with the exception of the second half in the FA Cup game at the Etihad, Burnley had continued to produce spirited performances but couldn’t turn the performances into goals as they fell to another defeat, this time to Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
Performance did turn into wins with five in a row
A draw against Southampton finished off February before the Clarets turned their fortunes around with a come from behind 2-1 win against ten man Everton as Ashley Barnes and Wood started to form a dangerous partnership up front.
A dominant 3-0 win at the London Stadium against West Ham came next despite crowd trouble amongst the home supporters, before three consecutives 2-1 wins against West Brom, Watford and Leicester City to make it five wins in a row.
Form dropped towards the end of the season
The win at home to Leicester was the Clarets final win of the season as they fell to three defeats in their last five games, drawing the other two.
Chelsea held on to a 2-1 win at Turf Moor to keep them in the Champions League hunt, before draws at Stoke and at home to Brighton all but ended Burnley’s chances of finishing sixth but were comfortably clear of eighth place and were all but guaranteed to finish seventh, a place they had occupied for the majority of the season.
A crushing 5-0 defeat to Arsenal in Wenger’s final game at the Emirates came in the penultimate game of the season before a defeat to Bournemouth ended the season on sour note results wise.
Thanks to Chelsea beating Southampton in the FA Cup Semi Final meant that seventh place was enough to ensure that the Clarets had qualified for the Europa League, with Burnley likely to enter at the Second Qualifying round stage, with the draw for this taking place on the 19th and 20th of June and the first leg being played on the 26th of July.
Overall, a memorable season for Clarets players, staff and fans alike
You had to search far and wide to find someone who predicted Burnley to survive relegation this season, let alone finish in the top half of the table, let alone qualifying for Europe.
We can now look ahead to the World Cup where Burnley fans will be hoping to see their stars in action, namely Nick Pope for England, after a stunning year in the Clarets goal.
Additions need to be secured before the start of the European campaign, especially with the Transfer Window now closing before the start of the season. Depth in all positions should be improved but what is equally as important is keeping hold of the players that have helped hugely to creating a whirlwind season for Clarets fans young and old.