Burnley in Relegation Scrap: Will Clarets Pay the Price For Dumping Dyche?

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As we enter the last month of the current Premier League season, the battle to avoid relegation is just as intense as the battle at the summit of the Premier League table. Nineteenth & 20th positions look sewn up, with Watford and Norwich destined for Championship football next year.

It’s the 18th place we are going to look at in this series. Having covered Everton yesterday, the next club under the microscope is Burnley.

Burnley

Although not considered a Premier League heavyweight by any stretch of the imagination, The Clarets have been ever-present in the Premier League in recent years. They gained promotion from the Championship back in the 2013/14 campaign under Sean Dyche. They experienced an immediate relegation, but then immediately returned to the league in the 2016/17 season. Their EPL form peaked back in the 2017/18 campaign when they shocked everybody by qualifying for the Europa League by virtue of a seventh-placed finish.

Those halcyon days must seem like a long, long time ago for fans of the Clarets.

Burnley truly hit the panic button just a few weeks ago. After a 2-0 defeat to cellar dwellers Norwich City, they sacked manager Sean Dyche after nine and a half years of service. They replaced him with an existing member of the backroom staff, Mike Jackson.

When Dyche was relieved of his duties, The Clarets sat in 18th place having won just four of their 31 Premier League fixtures. Although he had become renowned for keeping Burnley up for five consecutive seasons, the board decided his time had come. They had just survived by finishing 17th in the 20/21 Premier League and the Burnley hierarchy was obviously not convinced that lightning would strike twice.

Since Mike Jackson has taken over, the Clarets have certainly had the famed ‘new manager bounce’. A 1-1 draw with high flying West Ham was the new gaffer’s first result, followed by consecutive victories over Southampton and Wolves, respectively. Those last two results have lifted Burnley out of the relegation zone. They now sit in 17th place, two points ahead of fellow strugglers Everton (who have a game in hand over their relegation rivals) and only three points behind 16th placed Leeds United.

The Run Home

Now we have set the stage, so let’s look at the Clarets’ remaining fixtures and see if we can gauge how many points Mike Jackson’s men might expect to finish on come the 23rd of May.

Vs. Watford (A)

Burnley’s next assignment comes against a club that looks pretty nailed on for relegation. They travel to Vicarage Road to take on the 19th placed Hornets. The reverse fixture at Turf Moor was a dull 0-0 draw. That result won’t be helpful for either side this time around. Burnley has a pretty outstanding record against Watford. They’ve only lost once to the Hornets since 2017.

I am predicting the new manager bounce to continue and the Clarets to win 1-0.

Vs. Aston Villa (H)

Next up they face Aston Villa. This is a quirk of the COVID rescheduling, as the Villains and the Clarets clash twice in the final two weeks of league fixtures. They have split the last two fixtures between these two sides at Turf Moor between the two sides.

I am going to go with a 2-2 draw this time around.

Vs. Spurs (A)

Sandwiched between the Aston Villa two-parter is a clash against North Londoners Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs will be keen for revenge after Ben Mee thwarted them and gave the Clarets three points in the reverse fixture.

Considering The Lily Whites will probably be in a fierce battle with arch-rivals Arsenal for fourth place, I predict that this is where the honeymoon ends for Mike Jackson as Burnley’s manager. Tottenham wins 4-0.

Vs. Aston Villa (A)

The sequel to the aforementioned Aston Villa doubleheader, this time at Villa Park. Their previous two Premier League fixtures at Villa Park have ended in draws. Not this time around, though. Still feeling the effects of the whooping at the hands of Spurs, I am predicting Burnley to suffer their second straight defeat.

2-0 to Aston Villa.

Vs. Newcastle (H)

So if my predictions hold up, the Clarets will head into Championship Sunday at 35 points. And they will face mega-rich Newcastle, who is a team transformed under Eddie Howe.

Unfortunately for Burnley, except for a League Cup victory right at the beginning of this season, they don’t have an impressive record against the Magpies historically. In their history, they have only defeated Newcastle in the Premier League twice. 

Newcastle will have confirmed a comfortable mid-table finish by this point, so a lot will depend on how motivated they are to pick up the three points against the Clarets.

Despite history suggesting otherwise, I think the Clarets might just pick up all three points. I think the fact Burnley will actively have something to play for will get them over the line. After a tense game that sees both sides score, Wout Weghorst heads home from a corner in injury time to seal a 2-1 victory for Burnley.

In the highly unlikely occurrence of my predictions being all spot on, that would mean Burnley finishes the season with eight victories, 14 draws, and 16 defeats. That would give them a grand total of 38 points. For context, that would be enough points to ensure safety in every season of the Premier League since the 2010/11 season.

That season, 39 points relegated both Birmingham and Blackpool.

And if you’re following this series, you’ll know that it is one more point than I predict Everton to pick up.

Can the Clarets do enough to survive, despite hitting the panic button and sacking their long-term manager? I think they just might.

Stuart Kavanagh is an up-and-coming sports journalist from Melbourne, Australia. Along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website thepyrrhic.com, he is also the co-host of the ‘After Extra Time’ podcast. Football mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.

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