Burnley FC: Restart Preview
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The Premier League returns this week with the final nine games of the season set to be played out in front of empty stadiums.

Burnley, sitting in 10th place in the table, are aiming to renew their European push that sees them return on the back of a seven- game unbeaten run in the league dating back to January.

Sean Dyche and his team were sat just four points above the relegation zone after a dismal 3-0 defeat away at Chelsea, but this result was the turning point and kick-started the run.

Burnley 2-1 Leicester City

Burnley picked up their first league points in five games after Chris Wood and an Ashley Westwood screamer launched The Clarets up to 14th place with a 2-1 win over Leicester City.

Harvey Barnes had given The Foxes the lead in the first half with a superb solo effort before Wood poked home the equaliser after half time.

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Nick Pope saved a Jamie Vardy penalty after VAR judged that Ben Mee had fouled Barnes in the box, which gave Burnley some much needed motivation.

Irishman Westwood thundered home the winner 11 minutes from the end, and The Clarets held on to condemn Leicester to their fourth defeat in six league games. 

Manchester United 0-2 Burnley

The Clarets looked to overturn the defeat they suffered at the hands of Manchester United by the same score-line at Turf Moor over the Christmas Period.

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Wood scored his tenth league goal of the season towards the end of the first half, smashing the ball home from six yards out before a venomous strike from Jay Rodriguez in the second half saw The Clarets secure their first ever Premier League win at Old Trafford.

The 2-0 win lifted Burnley to 30 points, level with Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Everton and Newcastle for 10th place. 

There was a break in league action as Norwich City travelled to Turf Moor in the FA Cup where Grant Hanley and Josip Drmic gave The Canaries a 1-2 win and progression to the fifth round. 

Burnley 0-0 Arsenal

Two teams now embroiled in a battle for the top half of the table faced each other at Turf Moor, with Arsenal looking to cement their position in 10th place.

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However, a 0-0 draw followed which suited the visitors greatly after the Clarets peppered The Gunners’ goal with several quality chances.

The draw and other results around them meant that these two sides now occupied 10th and 11th, with the Clarets pulling further from the relegation zone. 

Southampton 1-2 Burnley

The Clarets travelled to the South Coast and picked up their third win in four games, with a 1-2 win at Southampton.

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Westwood found the net again, this time directly from a corner after just 93 seconds, before Danny Ings equalised for The Saints in a stormy encounter.

Matej Vydra thrashed a left footed effort into the top corner from the edge of the box in the second half to secure a first league double over The Saints for 73 years.

The result also meant that the Clarets entered the top half of the table and sat just five points behind the fifth-place team in Sheffield United.

Burnley 3-0 Bournemouth

Three wins in four turned to four wins in five games after The Clarets beat Bournemouth 3-0 in a game overran with VAR controversy.

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Vydra had opened the scoring before Harry Wilson found the net after a brisk counter-attack from a corner to equalise for The Cherries.

However, the Video Assistant Referee ruled that Cherries defender Adam Smith had controlled the ball with his arm in the box and The Clarets were awarded a penalty, which was dispatched by Rodriguez after a lengthy display.

Dwight McNeil found the net from outside the box to secure the points late on, with The Clarets form earning plaudits and Burnley were beginning to work their way into the European conversation. 

Newcastle United 0-0 Burnley

A resolute Burnley performance extended their unbeaten run in the league to six games, despite being held by Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

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The game showed that despite the recent attacking success, The Clarets were still able to dig in and play to the style that they had become renowned with over the past few seasons.

Matt Richie went closest for the hosts, with Rodriguez and Jeff Hendrick testing Martin Dubravka in the home side’s goal.

Pope denied Dwight Gayle after half time, and the deadlock remained as Burnley climbed up to ninth place in the league and just three points behind Manchester United, who were in fifth but still had a game in hand over The Clarets. 

Burnley 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Dele Alli’s penalty rescued Jose Mourinho from another defeat and put a slight dent in Burnley’s European hopes when The Clarets and Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 at Turf Moor.

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Burnley manager Dyche thought that his side deserved a spot kick of their own as Wood, who had given the Clarets a deserved lead in the 13th minute, didn’t go down under a challenge from Davinson Sanchez.

The double introduction of Lucas Moura and Giovani lo Celso at half time sparked a comeback for Spurs as Ben Mee fouled Erik Lamela to give Alli the chance to equalise from 12 yards.

Lo Celso and Vydra both nearly won the game for their respective teams, but the score line remained the same.

The result left Burnley two points behind their opponents, and could have overtaken them into eighth place with a win.

Seven games unbeaten before the pause to the season set The Clarets up nicely for the final nine games.

Who was in form for The Clarets before the break?

Over the seven games mentioned, the team performances from The Clarets drew plenty of praise from pundits and fans from around the league.

However, there were some certain individuals who were hitting the heights with their performances and are looking to replicate this over the next month.

Nick Pope

The England shot-stopper had been in inspired form this season and was widely expected to receive a call-up to the senior side for the European Championships.

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Keeping the most clean-sheets in the division so far with 11, Pope has been the vital last line of defence and will look to earn himself some more when they come up against some of the league’s least prolific teams in the run in.

Pope had kept four clean sheets over the unbeaten period, only conceding three goals in that time.

Ben Mee

In front of Pope is one the Clarets’ most consistent performers since their return to the Premier League in 2016 and has only ever improved in his role.

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The club captain produced man of the match displays against Manchester United, Arsenal and Southampton making vital blocks and clearances at one end also proving to be a nuisance at the other from set pieces.

Mee, who is still awaiting his first call-up to the England Senior Squad, will undoubtedly reproduce these performances and try and force his was into Gareth Southgate’s thinking ahead of next summer’s rearranged tournament.

James Tarkowski

Mee’s partner James Tarkowski leads his team in terms of tackles made, aerial battles won, clearances and interceptions.

Much like his partner, Tarkowski is a force at either end which makes the heart of Burnley’s defence seriously hard to break down.

It is no surprise that Tarkowski has been called into the senior side of his country, but dropped out this year so the big centre-half has a point to prove in the final nine games of the season.

Ashley Westwood

The Irishman has always been a steady performer when called upon in the Dyche’s midfield.

However, it is his set pieces that cause the problems, which he proved when he scored directly from a corner at St Mary’s in February.

Leading the team with five assists alongside Dwight McNeil, the midfielder has also made the highest number of passes for the team this season with 1,181 according to PremierLeague.com, showing the majority of build up play goes through him.

This makes him an integral part of the Clarets’ team in the running, but one more yellow card would see him suspended for two games as he currently sits on nine cautions.

Chris Wood

Top goal-scorer Chris Wood has scored 11 of the teams 34 goals in the league this season and was firing on all cylinders before the enforced break.

Strikes against Spurs, Manchester United and Leicester proved his worth to the team as he played without his usual partner Ashley Barnes, who has six goals to his name.

With Rodriguez and Vydra also finding the net over the unbeaten spell, Wood played a key role in holding the ball up and getting his team up with play as he has done his whole career.

Wood will be looking to add to his tally over the remaining nine games, aiming to improve on this, his best-ever scoring year in the Premier League.

Where can the Clarets pick up points

The Clarets find themselves in a mixed situation where they are playing teams at both ends of the league table, but do have a relatively easy run-in compared with other teams in and around them.

Games against Manchester City, Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United will be difficult to score points against as these teams are ahead of the Clarets in the table.

However, Sean Dyche’s Burnley teams are renowned for being difficult to beat at Turf Moor and have had a measure of success at Anfield in the past and, if Liverpool are rotating their squad after wrapping up the league title, points could be on offer here as well.

Dyche will be expecting good performances against relegation threatened sides West Ham, Norwich and Brighton and would also be expecting his side to match up well against Watford and Crystal Palace who also find themselves at the lower end of the table.

All in all, Burnley could be looking at more than the 54 points that secured them a European Place in the 2017-18 season and, with five games against so-called weaker opposition, this could be a very achievable target.

Burnley restart their campaign on Monday 22 June against Manchester City at the Etihad for a eight o’clock kick-off.

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