It was a second successive victory for Burnley as they triumphed over Bournemouth but it was also a welcome return to the team for Charlie Taylor. Ashley Westwood has recently been labelled an integral cog in the Burnley wheel and now Taylor has also established himself as an important piece of the puzzle for manager Sean Dyche.
Taylor’s rise has been significant. He initially came in as deputy for the dependable Stephen Ward and lacked the consistency of his positional compatriot. However, Ward was plagued with injuries in the following season and this allowed Taylor the opportunity to grow and develop his game. The 2018-19 season was somewhat disappointing but the 26-year-old was a shining light for most of it.
The former Leeds United man arrived as a player who was a little bit raw to the Premier League. Taylor was quick, and well-built but the defender lacked in several areas of his game. He was quite suspect positionally and his game lacked conviction. He never really seemed like a dangerous attacking threat despite the pace he had at his disposal. All that has improved with experience; it has allowed him to fine-tune his game and gain more confidence when playing at the highest level.
Erik Pieters did start the season as the main left-back after a small injury ruled Taylor out of the opening weekend. Pieters racked up two assists in a 3-0 victory against Southampton which stamped down his starting credentials. The summer signing from Stoke City retained his place in the starting eleven for the following matches and was playing relatively well. However, there were noticeable deficiencies in his game. A lack of pace forced Pieters to take up some very central positions and it gave opposing wingers a lot of time and room to deal their damage. He was also quite clumsy on the ball despite contributing three assists.
Dyche is often loyal to those who make their way into the starting eleven. This meant that Pieters was allowed to continue his run in the team irrespective of those weak points. But an injury to the Dutchman allowed Taylor a route back in and he has made that count. The difference between the two is clear. Taylor can stretch a team with his pace and can also defend better in one-versus-one situations. The Clarets have not conceded a Premier League goal this season while Taylor has been on the pitch. Obviously that statistic won’t last forever but it does illustrate his importance to this team.
Burnley signed Taylor as a player for the future. He is now fulfilling that long-term vision.