Where is it all going wrong for Burnley? 
A familiar sight (photo: Getty Images)

After shipping nine goals in their last two matches, it is easy to forget just what a force Burnley's back four were last season.

Seemingly a shadow of the side that finished in the top seven during 2017-18, Burnley have conceded 21 goals in their opening ten matches this year. It took them 23 matches before the same number of goals were scored against them last season in a campaign where they only saw 39 strikes hit the back of their net.

Same style of play and familiar personnel 

Not much has changed in their defensive personnel - the back four has remained consistent with club record signing Ben Gibson struggling to maintain his fitness and get a run in the side.

Joe Hart is between the sticks ahead of Nick Pope but won the most recent Player of the Month Award, suggesting that the Clarets should be growing stronger defensively.

Statistically there is very little difference between this campaign and the previous one. The average number of tackles per game has a difference of 0.1, whilst the number of interceptions is identical at 10.6.

Even the amount of aerial duels won is exactly the same - 25.2 per game - with Burnley leading the charts in that area this season. On the ball, there is barely anything to choose between the types of passes manufactured.

Gaps appearing

Burnley's passing accuracy has also improved but a couple of telling statistics could provide the answer to the Clarets' issues this season.

Their average possession per game has dropped from 45.1% to 43.4%. Combined with the appearance of more gaps and space between the lines, teams are averaging almost six shots more per game compared to last season.

The old fortress is starting to crumble with Hart fielding an average of 20.9 shots per game, more than any other Premier League goalkeeper.

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Defour and Brady should bring stability when the rust has cleared

Perhaps a key issue has been the absence of former Belgian international, Steven Defour. The central midfielder is not only a magician on the ball but also does a sterling job of protecting the back four, averaging a better interception per game ratio than all but six Premier League midfielders last season.

Burnley kept ten clean sheets and lost just eight of their 24 Premier League games before Defour got injured in January. Whilst he was out, the Clarets managed just four clean sheets and lost another eight games in 20 matches.

Although Burnley's form has dwindled since Defour returned, both he and Robbie Brady, who also offers protection to the defence along with attacking prowess, should improve the fortunes of the Clarets when they boost their match fitness.

Regressing rather than progressing

Yet another issue for the Clarets could be that they are simply drifting further away from the top teams.

Whilst many teams strengthened during the transfer window, Burnley maintained a slender budget and had to be selective with their signings. However, the gulf in class was clearly evident as they fell to the sword of both Chelsea and Manchester City during their last two games.