Analysis: How do Burnley keep formulating impressive results?

The Clarets sit seventh after picking up their fifth win in eleven games against Southampton.

Analysis: How do Burnley keep formulating impressive results?
Burnley are a tough unit to break down (photo: Getty Images / Steve Bardens)

Burnley continue to raise eyebrows this season in an incredible start to the campaign that began on the opening day when they defeated Chelsea 3-2.

Ten games later and the Clarets continue to prove doubters wrong after many expected them to be embroiled in a relegation battle come May. Yet Saturday's win against Southampton keeps them in the top seven and hunting down the 'big six'.

Discipline and fitness have been important

Even though we are not even a third of the way into this season, Burnley are already producing similar performances and results to the Leicester City side that won the league two years ago...although we are not saying the Clarets will repeat that feat this season!

Yet impressive results that have seen them take points off teams that were expected to roll them over this season have caused their manager to be heavily linked to a number of vacant managerial positions. Club owners across the country appear to be impressed by Sean Dyche, particularly the Everton board.

Dyche has built his team on an organised defensive unit - the Clarets have only scored ten goals in eleven games but have the fourth best defensive record in the league with only nine goals conceded.

Playing with a 4-5-1 formation, Burnley are arguably the most disciplined side in the top flight. Yet it is hard to hold your position and thwart attack after attack in the top flight so another element of the Clarets training must be praised for their success.

Dyche has always provided himself on producing fit teams and this Burnley squad certainly have stamina in abundance. Their ability to continue working hard for longer allows them to support each other throughout the entirety of the game.

A strong skeleton to the side ensures a sturdy defence

Consistency has also been key. Dyche has used fewer players and made less changes to his starting eleven than any other Premier League manager. The team virtually picks itself and a number of individuals have made excellent starts to the campaign.

With James Tarkowski and Ben Mee in the top three for clearances and blocks this season, it is easy to pinpoint the central defensive duo as the most critical foundations in the Burnley squad. Yet the work of defensive midfielder Jack Cork should not be forgotten. The summer signing has been excellent in providing an extra line of defence, supporting his back four by continuously tracking runners and putting his body on the line in front of shots.

If a side is able to break down the Burnley midfield and defence, they will currently be faced by one of the form players in the top flight. Captain Tom Heaton looked to be a big miss when he dislocated his shoulder, though replacement Nick Pope has come of age since donning the gloves.

Pope has already kept four clean sheets in eight Premier League games and has made 37 saves from 42 shots. He averages more saves from shots outside and inside the box than any other goalkeeper in the top flight.

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Not many defenders can compete with Burnley's strikers in the air

Burnley certainly defend well but it must be remembered that they have won five of their eleven games, albeit by often scoring the one and only goal of the game. Those increased fitness levels help them break forward with speed but again key players have been critical to their success in the offensive side of the game.

Dyche suggested a few weeks ago that his side play "mixed passing" and both direct and short ball styles suit his team. In Chris Wood and Sam Vokes, Burnley can call upon one of two players for the lone striker role who are both in the top ten for the number of aerial duels one.

The is vital for two reasons. Firstly, the strength that both players possess allows them to hold the ball in attack and provide time for their teammates to support. Secondly, with expert delivery from set-piece specialist Robbie Brady, the Clarets are always going to threaten in the air.

Jeff Hendrick shouldn't be overlooked for his vital role in an attacking midfield position. He spent much of last season under fire from his own fans but Hendrick has produced the winner in two games this season. He is able to roam and link play and has the ability to pick up positions between the lines that opponents cannot track.

Spirit is key

The final ingredient for Burnley's success is team morale. Players often mention the "spirit in the camp" and this will continue to grow with positive results.

This was the foundation for that unforgettable season for Leicester. Everyone knew exactly how the Foxes would play but just could not find a way past the most spirited team in the league. Burnley are erecting a similar barricade this year.

However, continued good fortunes may depend on the Clarets keeping hold of their manager. With Everton continuing to sniff around the 46-year old, Burnley fans will be praying they can keep hold of Sean Dyche.