Burnley's 2017 Review: Successful year leads to further ambition

Burnley's 2017 had two very contrasting halves, both of which has delighted Clarets fans.

Burnley's 2017 Review: Successful year leads to further ambition
PICTURE: GettyImages, Bryn Lennon.

The year 2017 will be remembered by Burnley FC’s fans for many years to come, thanks to a number of impressive performances which has taken the club from relegation candidates to a comfortable position in the top half of the Premier League table.

Overview of results.

The final five months of the 2016-17 Premier League season saw Burnley do enough to survive relegation straight back to the Championship, just a year after they won the second tier title.

An eight game winless run from February to April dragged the Clarets closer to the jaws of relegation, however two wins in April all but guaranteed survival as they reached the magical 40 point mark.

After the summer Transfer Window, many didn’t give Burnley a chance of repeating the feat of surviving, with some pundits predicting the Clarets to come bottom of the pile.

The fixture computer wasn’t nice to Sean Dyche and his team, pitting them against the Champions Chelsea on the first weekend of the season. However this didn’t deter Burnley as they left Stamford Bridge with a 3-2 victory, a win which started off a magnificent first half of the season which has seen the Clarets pick up 34 points.

This total of points at this stage is more impressive if you compare it with the clubs total they finished with at the end of last season. 35 points was enough to stay in the division and Burnley are only six points off of reaching last years final total, before the start 2018.

Burnley have had some memorable results in 2017, most notably a 1-1 draw with Champions elect Chelsea at home in February, away draws at first Spurs and then Manchester United in the 2017-18 season.

Despite those, the best moment has to be from Saturday 12th August, and the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.

Best Moment of 2017: Chelsea 2-3 Burnley

Many predicted Burnley to lose by a cricket score to the Champions, however it was quite the opposite.

Gary Cahill received a straight red card for a lunge on Steven Defour which allowed the Clarets to punish the champions with a ruthless attacking performance which saw Sam Vokes score twice, either side of a thumping volley from Stephen Ward.

The Champions reacted in the second half, scoring through new signing Alvaro Morata and David Luiz either side of a second blues red card, this one for Cesc Fabregas after he received two yellow cards.

The day was special for Clarets fans because the team’s away form last year wasn’t anything special. The Clarets picked up just seven points on their travels, whilst picking up 33 at home, and this showed Burnley fans that the they had improved and filled them with hope despite having failed to replace the departed Michael Keane or add any extra firepower up front.

This was Burnley’s first ever win on the opening weekend of a Premier League season, having lost each of their previous three, also causing the Blues to be the first reigning champions to concede three goals in the first game of their defence.

 

Worst Moment’s: Eight game winless run, Brady injury

Not much has gone wrong for Burnley in 2017, with the club surviving in the first half of the year and then thriving in the second half of the year.

Losing Sean Dyche to Everton would definitely have been the worst moment on this list had the Clarets not retained the services of their manager after the Toffees went with Sam Allardyce instead.

However, it wasn’t all good news for the Clarets as they struggled for a big patch of the end of last season, not picking up a win in eight games could have easily seen the end of Dyche’s reign in April. Despite the uncertainty, two wins in that month saw the Clarets move towards safety and still believe that Dyche was the right man to take them forward.

The rough spell of results did involve the previously mentioned 1-1 draw with Chelsea, which boosted morale and, without the two wins, Burnley could have been playing Championship football yet again.

Robbie Brady had been one of the Clarets standout performers this year, chipping in with two goals and a number of assists, while creating many more chances.

This meant when Brady suffered a near season ending injury at Leicester at the beginning of December, Burnley fans knew it would be difficult to replace the Republic of Ireland midfielder.

Brady had been nominated for the Premier League’s November Player of the Month, but Burnley have found a way to succeed without him, doing well since his injury.

 

Best players: Ben Mee and Robbie Brady 

Both Ben Mee and Brady have had remarkable years for the club, despite both playing in completely different positions.

Mee has struck up a partnership with James Tarkowski at the back with the back line keeping the second most clean sheets in the League, behind only Manchester United in the 2017-18 season. He was also consistently solid alongside Keane, but his ability to improve and still perform well this season alongside a much lesser experienced centre half in Tarkowski is what sets him apart.

Brady’s delivery from open play and set pieces are deadly and, with the Clarets height, they have caused many problems for opposition defences. His desire to get up and down the wing, helping out in either attack or defence, is something he deserves many more plaudits for as his work rate at times goes under the radar.

The whole team could have been recognised as Best Players as they all have played a huge part in firstly keeping the team in the Premier League and then making them a threat to the top six in the second half of the year, which is why it would be unfair to label anyone as The Most Disappointing Player of the Year.

What to expect in 2018?

Burnley fans will be hopeful their team can retain their place in the top half of the table and push the top six all the way for a potential Europa League place.

For this to happen, the Clarets could add some depth to the squad in January before really improving the squad further in the Summer.

There is nothing to say that the Clarets can’t replicate or even better their end to 2017 in 2018, but one aspect that will be important is if they can keep hold of Dyche. His success at Burnley hasn’t been missed by the so called bigger clubs, so if the Clarets want to keep improving, that man holds the key.

Who’s to say that Burnley can’t embrace the magic of the FA Cup and go all the way, which will mean they have to beat the seemingly unbeatable Manchester City in the Third Round.

Next season the target will be survival again however, on the inside, everyone at the club will be wanting to aim higher and higher, which could lead to European football.