With the 12th round of fixtures in the Premier League now done and dusted, it’s time to take a look at which strikers performed the best on top flight pitches up and down England.
Strikers in the Premier League may not have had a particularly lethal weekend, but there were plenty with enough clinical awareness to find themselves on the scoresheet. Continue reading
Turf Moor is a stadium where most visiting teams leave either bruised physically or with little in terms of result. The visitors tend to be aware that they will be involved in a highly competitive game.
When they were promoted to the English Premier League in 2016 as champions of the English League Football Championship, Burnley lost just two of their 23 home games, whilst collecting 51 points. They continued that fine form through the 2016/17 season in the Premier League. Out of 19 matches at Turf Moor, Burnley collected 33 points after winning 10 home matches. Mind you they finished the season with a total of 40 points. Thus, there away form was miserable and just yielded 7 points.
On their travels, Burnley not only struggled but could not get more than a single win. The solitary win was secured at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. They did however earn a point by holding Manchester United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford. Despite their disappointing return of points from away fixtures, they still retained their place in the top tier of English football.
This season, they have already won two away games and secured a draw in two other games. From five away matches played during the current campaign, Burnley have amassed one more point than the number – seven – they did in the entire 2016/17 season.
By guiding his team to wins over both Chelsea and Everton, whilst also drawing against Tottenham and Liverpool, manager Sean Dyche has succeeded in getting the best out of his squad and managed to rebuild their confidence away from home.
He has created a well-balanced team, made up of the same defenders who helped the club win the Championship along with some astute midfield and attack-minded signings. While Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes remain the forward options for Dyche, with the pair scoring 17 goals between them last season, Chris Wood has been recruited to strengthen Burnley’s attack. The 26-year-old Wood has seamlessly integrated into Dyche’s side and been on the receiving end of some quality service, with players such as Scott Arfield, Robbie Brady and Steven Defour delivering the passes.
Burnley aim to continue in this fine form and rather than battling against relegation, it may sound realistic to aim for a top 10 finish in EPL. This of course is based on their early season form. Last season, any points earned away from home were treated as an unexpected bonus, particularly since they lost 14 of their 19 games away from Turf Moor.
Now Burnely’s players are proving to be part of a team capable of competing with the bigger clubs in the English Premier League, as seen in the win over Chelsea and confirmed by the draws against Tottenham and Liverpool. Perhaps the big question is where will Burnley finish at the end of the Premier League season, but one thing is for sure- the aim is to sustain this promising start at all costs.
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Since 2012, Joe Hart has been England’s first choice goalkeeper. Three successive England managers – Fabio Capello, Roy Hodgson and Gareth Southgate – have all showed great faith in the Manchester City goalkeeper over the course of the last seven years.
While he has largely repaid their faith, he is also prone to making errors, such as allowing Gareth Bale to score from a long range free-kick in England’s 2-1 win over Wales in the group stage of Euro 2016. Therefore, there is room for other goalkeepers to challenge Hart for a place in manager Southgate’s side.
A few contenders exist. Some have done so for a bit longer, whilst others are starting to establishing themselves as potential England candidates. Already with some playing experience for The Three Lions and perhaps part of a group of possible replacements for Hart are Jack Butland and Fraser Forster.
One name catching the eye of pundits and fans alike is Burnley’s backup goalkeeper Nick Pope who is taking advantage of the injury to Tom Heaton to stake a claim as a starter in the English Premier League. Pope remains a rather fresh face in EPL, with no prior experience at the top level, yet his recent performances for Burnley show he is worth keeping eyes on.
Another goalkeeper worth mentioning whilst he is gradually developing a good reputation is Jordan Pickford. Despite Sunderland being defensively susceptible last season, the 23-year-old Pickford excelled to earn himself a move to Everton.
At Everton he trains with the assured Dutchman Maarten Stekelenburg, who provides healthy competition for Pickford and can play a role in his progression. Pickford has represented England at every level from U-16’s to U-21’s.
At present, Hart remains England’s no.1, but his hold on the position is not as strong as it once was. He has the opportunity to earn a spot to play at his second World Cup finals by doing well for West Ham. Additional incentive exist for him to do so, from the way Pep Guardiola set him aside at Manchester City to his struggles with Torino in Serie A.
Perhaps an even greater motivation for Hart is the presence of goalkeepers such as Butland and Forster, along with the emergence of Pickford and Pope. Nevertheless, the greatest incentive of all, for any footballer, would be to participate in a World Cup tournament so Hart needs to step up for the Hammers in order to secure his place in England’s squad for Russia 2018!
After seven weeks into the new season, Manchester clubs continue to dominate the top end of the league table and three London clubs are hot in their pursuit. Continue reading
Time now to take a look at the Premier League’s best midfielders this past weekend. Continue reading
Burnley achieved quite a remarkable feat by maintaining their Premier League status last season. Continue reading
The Clarets managed quite a remarkable feat by surviving relegation this summer. Continue reading
When Burnley gained promotion last season to the Premier League, Continue reading
Burnley started last season as one of the favourites to go down, come May. Continue reading