Analysis: Burnley need to be more assertive offensively if they are going to halt an alarming dip in form

The Clarets have failed to win in their last ten games in all competitions.

Analysis: Burnley need to be more assertive offensively if they are going to halt an alarming dip in form
Burnley look short of ideas in attack (photo: Getty Images / Tony Marshall)

If you had offered Sean Dyche seventh place in the Premier League table with just eleven games to play, the Burnley manager would have snapped your hand off to see his side sitting in such a position. However, the gloss has been taken off their fine first half of the season after a narrow defeat to Swansea City subjected them to a tenth successive game without a win.

Defence is slipping but not the main problem

The Clarets were able to build a solid foundation on an organised unit dedicated to working hard for the cause before Christmas. Dyche's sides are known to be grafters and that is certainly the case in this current Burnley squad.

That is still the situation for the Lancashire club despite their recent dip in form, although several injuries to key players have left them a touch easier to pick off. James Tarkowski has missed several games recently through either injury or suspension and is a key figure in defence. Steven Defour will also be a huge miss following knee surgery that will leave him sidelined for the rest of the season. Tarkowski is in the top three Premier League players for average clearances and blocks per game, whilst Defour is towards the top of the lists for interceptions.

Similarly, Stephen Ward and Matt Lowton have been pivotal in the full-back positions and recent injuries have exposed the frailties of the ageing Phil Bardsley and inexperienced Charlie Taylor.

With more shots conceded per game than any other side in the top-flight, the law of averages suggests that Burnley will let in goals at some point during their matches. They have only kept one clean sheet in ten matches and the Clarets simply do not win from losing positions under Sean Dyche.

However, the defence is not necessarily the greatest concern at Turf Moor. They have only conceded more than one goal twice in their last eight games and have the fourth best defensive record in the league.

Confidence and creativity required in attack

Going the other way, Swansea are the only team to have scored less goals in the league. An injury to top goalscorer Chris Wood has certainly not helped the cause but the New Zealand international only has five goals to his name in all competitions.

Burnley have only netted more than one goal on five occasions this season. That said, if Burnley score first they have a good chance of winning by a narrow margin but if they concede first then defeat is a strong possibility. 

They did produce a confidence-boosting draw over Manchester City last weekend despite going a goal behind against the runaway leaders. Yet the Clarets were at their best in the latter stages of the contest when they were positive and increased the tempo of the game, stretching the City defenders.

Perhaps with that comeback in mind, Dyche opted to play two up front against Swansea. Looking to end a poor run of form against a side battling to avoid relegation, the Clarets clearly saw Saturday's contest as the perfect opportunity to go for goal and gain a valuable three points.

The visitors were certainly the more offensive team in the first 60 minutes but they appeared short of ideas going forward. Despite producing 13 shots in the 90 minutes, only one hit the target and they touched the ball just 13 teams in the Swansea penalty area.

The Burnley midfield almost seem unsure of how to play in an offensive manner. After a season containing and counter-attacking teams, they look bereft of creativity when presented more of the ball. However, the performance against City suggests that the ability is there but Dyche perhaps needs to release the shackles on his defensive-minded team. A 3-2 win would go down better with the natives than a 1-0 defeat.

Yet Dyche has two weeks to work on such a problem in training with no fixture next weekend. The pressure is on to get things right on February 24th when the Clarets host a Southampton side who have picked up just one win in this calendar year.