Bardsley and Taylor inspire shift in form
Paul Ellis/GettyImages

A return to the team for Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor helped inspire Burnley’s first Premier League win in four matches as the Clarets powered past West Ham United

Sean Dyche's men had lost three matches in a row and the performances of Matt Lowton and Erik Pieters had been brought into question.

Pieters in-particular had come under scrutiny during this poor run of form and, while some of that criticism may have been a little harsh, the return of Taylor did make a substantial difference for the Clarets.

Taylor-made for the team

Taylor was a mainstay in the team for the Clarets during the 2018-19 season but fell behind Pieters before the season began.

The former Leeds United man suffered a minor knock at the end of pre-season which allowed the summer signing from Stoke City to make his Burnley debut. Pieters made two goals in that match against Southampton and he, therefore, retained his place in the line-up.

A big advantage of using Taylor is for his pace. He is always willing to take on his man and whip a cross into the box but he also has the legs to get back and prevent opponents from scoring on the counter-attack.

Pieters has been surprisingly effective when bombing forward, contributing three assists for Burnley, but he has a habit of drifting too far inside when defending.

This is probably because he would get exposed for a lack of pace and mobility in one-versus-one situations. However, it leaves opposing wingers with too much space to create chances and it is not a sustainable way of defending.

Philling the void

Bardsley is an uplifting presence. The right-back knows how to engage a crowd with his full-blooded tackles and no-nonsense approach to defending. Last season, he really did help rouse the team when it was on its knees.

Lowton is a solid competitor but seems to suffer spells of complacency when he has an extended stay in the team. Recently, his distribution has been sloppy and his positioning has been poor.

Bardsley also has dips in form throughout the course of a campaign so a sensible rotation of the two players makes sense.

Setting the pace

Burnley's full-backs are expected to run the miles. Dyche wants his defenders to make overlapping runs and contribute to attacks but to also know their place in the Burnley shape. If the right-back wants to power forward then the left-back will probably sit deep.

In 2017-18, Dyche often liked pairings of Bardsley and Taylor or Lowton and Stephen Ward; Taylor and Lowton were more progressive going forward while Bardsley and Ward offered more assurance to the shape because they would shift inside the field.

This balancing combination had become less of a factor last season as Lowton and Taylor finished the season as the main men. Yet, here we are with the Bardsley and Taylor combination which has followed on from a Lowton and Pieters duo that also conforms to the rule. 

The right time

Every cog in the Burnley wheel is important and sometimes the wheels become a little stiff. Dyche likes to keep his starting team consistent but there are times when the selection does feel like it is becoming a little stale; that’s when complacency kicks in.

It means that those players on the bench are chomping at the bit to get involved and those players can really energise the team and it is down to the manager to decide when it is time to shake things up.

His changes did the job against the Hammers and he’ll be hoping that they push on after the international break against Watford