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Burnley must improve away form for second spell in Premier League

Burnley, 11/8 to stay in the Premier League next season, have a hard task on their hands. Last time in England’s top-flight, under manager Owen Coyle, until he moved to Bolton halfway through the campaign, they performed rather admirably.

Their first two home games yielded six points. Beating both Manchester United, and then Everton 1-0 in the space of four days, was one way to make sure you were taken seriously. In fact, the club won their first four home matches on the bounce, following up with a 3-1 victory against Sunderland, and a 2-1 triumph against Birmingham City.

Sandwiched between those results however were heavy away losses. Chelsea, Liverpool and then Tottenham beat the Lancashire club three, four, and five nil respectively, not to mention a 2-0 away defeat at Stoke City in their first game of the season.

This time around, the Clarets need to learn from their mistakes of that last top-flight stint. Creditably, the team played attractive attacking football, and didn’t falter in style. This was their downfall when they played away fixtures, as shown from their dismantling in the first few matches.

Turf Moor, however, was a fortress. Coyle’s troops were battle-hardened, and able to adapt to the wild weather that battered their exposed stadium in the midst of winter.

Sub-zero, biting winds turned out to be Burnley’s comfort blanket. Opposition such as Arsenal, Hull City and Sunderland all hated playing there, and struggled to adapt to unpredictable weather throughout a game.

Current Clarets coach Sean Dyche has been dubbed the ‘Ginger Mourinho’ for his success with limited resources, tactical nouse, and similar mannerisms. However, the football that he naturally exhibits is completely the opposite to ‘the Special One’s’ instinctive style.

While the Portuguese, if he had it all his way, would play to keep things tight at the back and counter-attack, Dyche’s Burnley pass and move relentlessly, with their full backs, especially assists machine Kieran Trippier, getting forward.

His strikers, if provided with quality service, can tear it up in the Premier League next term. Both Danny Ings and Sam Vokes netted over 20 goals each last term, though the latter is sidelined by a serious knee injury.

Make no mistake; when both are fit, they will be a handful for defenders, and established outfits would be foolish to underestimate them. England Under-21 frontman Ings is odds-on at 4/6 to be the club’s top scorer, while Wales target man Vokes is a very respectable 6/1 in the same market.

While Dyche will be aware of going too gung-ho at places like the Etihad or Stamford Bridge, he must formulate a plan for these occasions. So far, the Clarets have added proven Premier League steel to their squad, in the form of experienced utility players Steven Reid and Matt Taylor, who both arrived on respective free transfers from West Brom and West Ham.

Winger Michael Kightly has also been signed from Stoke permanently, in a bid to provide service and supplement the strikers with goals. An accomplished Premier League centre back would help Burnley against world class forwards such as Sergio Aguero, and bring organisation to, with the exception of Clarets stalwart Michael Duff, a relatively green defence.

Should they fail in their quest to stay in the Premier League, despite what will be Dyche’s best efforts, then Burnley have the squad to bounce straight back up. They are the odds-on favourites at 8/13 to be relegated next term.