Punching Above Their Weight

GW17 presents Burnley with another opportunity in which to maintain their impressive momentum

If it wasn’t for the heroics of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City side, Sean Dyche would surely be a shoe-in for the Manager of the Year award. After 16 rounds of the 2017/18 English Premier League season, the Clarets sit just 2 points outside of the Champions League places – a quite remarkable achievement.

At the beginning of December, Will Gürpınar-Morgan penned a fascinating article for StatsBomb highlighting how Burnley were continuing to defy the stats, while expressing his reservations about their ability to sustain it long-term.

Saturday’s 1-0 win over Watford was indicative of what they have been achieving all season. Dyche has them well-drilled and they seem to cope with whatever injuries come their way. A defensive resilience and a real work ethic is enabling them to collect maximum points even when the Expected Goals (xG) indicates that their opponents had the better opportunities. Data from Understat detailing their victory over the Hornets illustrates this perfectly.

Next up for the Clarets are Stoke City, a side that has conceded more goals than any other side this season. Burnley have secured 5 clean sheets in their last 7 Premier League home games and our GW17 goal projections suggest that another one could well be on the cards.

GW17 - EPL Goals

There have been less than 3 goals scored in 13 of Burnely’s last 15 Premier League games but with the visitors looking so vulnerable, there could be a temptation for Dyche’s side to be a bit more ambitious here. However, we’re not expecting that to happen and believe that they will continue with the game plan that has suited them so well.

Elsewhere, the Big 6 all seem to have fairly straightforward tasks on paper but the threat of squad rotation will be a concern for many Fantasy Premier League managers as we move into this hectic festive period.

It was a tactic that backfired for Jürgen Klopp over the weekend, when he chose to leave out two of his ‘Fab Four’, with Skysports reporting that the Liverpool manager has now made 59 changes to his starting line-ups this season, 20 more than any other manager!

It can be a risky ploy but don’t expect Dyche to follow suit though – he’s a man who knows his percentages!