Can Burnley avoid relegation dogfight?
Burnley looked in real danger of dropping out of the Premier League last season before a strong second half of the campaign saw them finish in 15th spot.
In the 2017-18 campaign, the Clarets came in seventh and reached the Europa League qualifying rounds.
Sean Dyche’s men have three points from two games this term, but will Burnley be pushing for Europe or battling against relegation come the business end of the season?
The early signs are positive for the Lancashire club as they comfortably overcame Southampton 3-0 at Turf Moor in the opening round of fixtures.
Burnley’s results at home will go a long way to determining whether or not they can avoid the relegation scrap this season and a big win over a solid Saints outfit will have provided an early season confidence boost.
A 2-1 defeat at Arsenal followed, but Burnley did compete well against a team likely to be pushing for a top four finish come the end of the campaign.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson was a member of the side who came in seventh two years ago, having arrived from Charlton in 2016, and the Iceland international has confidently claimed the current crop is the strongest squad Burnley have boasted during his time with the club.
— Johann B Gudmundsson (@Gudmundsson7) July 19, 2019
“I think it’s the strongest squad yet,” he told the Lancashire Telegraph. “It’s pretty much the same core since I’ve been here, we’ve just added more quality players to it.
“It looks really good. It’s only been two games, but it’s been a really positive two games.”
Burnley’s struggles last year were largely due to a sluggish start to the season as they lost four of their opening five games.
The Clarets had just 12 points to show from their first 19 games of the campaign but after a 5-1 Boxing Day mauling by Everton at home, they bounced back and lost just six of their final 18 fixtures.
Burnley were involved in the Europa League qualification rounds last summer and that probably played a role in their early season struggles. The Clarets haven’t had any European football to contend with this term and that should work in their favour, while summer signings Danny Drinkwater, Jay Rodriguez and Erik Pieters look shrewd additions.
Gudmundsson may be correct in stating the current Burnley squad is the strongest incarnation during his time with the club but their rivals have also strengthened and a push for Europe may be out of reach. However, the Clarets look to have the quality to avoid the battle against the drop – particularly if they can make Turf Moor a fortress once again – and a top 10 finish is by no means out of the question.