Our team-by-team guide to the new Fantasy Premier League season continues with this preview of Burnley.
After a tenth-place finish in 2019/20, last season was a little underwhelming for Sean Dyche’s side.
The Clarets failed to pick up three points until November, and ended the season just as poorly, losing seven of their final nine matches.
In the end, survival was confirmed by a comfortable 11 points, thanks largely to a good run of results over the festive period, but a 17th place finish indicates that the current squad needs reinforcements ahead of the new campaign.
DOUBLE FIGURES FOR WOOD AGAIN
Despite that, there were positives, including the performances of Chris Wood (£7.0m).
The 29-year-old scored 12 Premier League goals as he recorded double figures for the fourth consecutive season, and finished particularly strongly, registering eight goals and three assists between Gameweeks 27 and 35.
However, for large parts of the season he struggled, which isn’t a huge surprise given Burnley’s attacking numbers:
|Total||Rank v other Premier League sides|
|Shots in the box||234||17th|
|Shots on target||127||18th|
|Expected goals (xG)||39.97||16th|
MIDFIELD FOUND WANTING
One of the key areas Sean Dyche will surely look to address this summer is the lack of goals throughout the rest of the team.
None of Wood’s team-mates managed to score more than three, with their midfielders combining for a measly three big chances over the entire season. It really was that bad.
Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) and Ashley Westwood (£5.5m) do at least provide some threat from set-pieces and crossing, and Josh Brownhill (£4.5m) may appear in a few squads simply as a budget enabler, but even the most ardent Burnley fan would struggle to get too excited about their attacking assets given their Gameweeks 1-8 fixtures:
Aside from Wood, Matěj Vydra (£5.5m) is perhaps the other forward with the most potential.
The Czech put himself back in contention with some good performances at the end of the season, with his partnership with Wood adding a new layer to Burnley’s attack.
However, he has always struggled to maintain a regular place under Dyche, and it’s hard to see that changing with Ashley Barnes (£5.5m) and Jay Rodriguez (£5.5m) also vying for starts.
Meanwhile, Burnley had a surprisingly porous defence since the turn of the year, as they kept just five clean sheets in 23 fixtures.
During that period, they conceded 35 goals, and aside from a legendary Matthew Lowton (£4.5m) haul in Double Gameweek 24, it was all a bit uninspiring.
Over the course of the season, Nick Pope’s (£5.5m) points-per-match average of 4.5 was the best among Burnley assets and the fourth-highest among Fantasy goalkeepers.
The Burnley no. 1 managed to hit clean sheet double figures (11) for the second consecutive season, with only Emiliano Martínez (£5.5m) collecting more bonus points, which does suggest he could be a useful asset at times next season, providing the fixtures fall kindly.
However, with Pope coming in as one of the more expensive goalkeepers in the game, and given last season’s defensive numbers, it does maybe feel a little pricey for what’s on offer.
|Total||Rank v other Premier League sides|
|Shots in the box conceded||358||18th|
|Shots on target conceded||179||15th|
|Big chances conceded||73||12th=|
|Expected goals conceded (xGC)||55.56||15th|
Some of those totals may cause concern, but they do require careful analysis.
Burnley do give up a lot of shots, that’s clear, but they also get a lot of bodies behind the ball, and it’s no surprise that centre-backs Ben Mee (£5.0m) and James Tarkowski (£5.0m) both ranked in the top three defenders for blocks last season.
The full-backs also played their part, and that could be where the real value lies.
Matthew Lowton (£4.5m) played his way back into form in the second half of the season, and a quick comparison between his performances from Gameweeks 1-22 and 23-38 highlight just how much his role developed as the campaign went on, and essentially how much more attacking he became:
Above: Matthew Lowton’s attacking numbers between Gameweeks 1-22 (left) and Gameweeks 23-38 (right). Averages per match shown.
Investing in Lowton from Gameweek 9 could be an idea, then, when the Clarets’ fixtures ease:
Wood’s consistency helped Burnley get over the line last season, but if they want to progress, he will need help on the goalscoring front in 2021/22.
Having recently been acquired by American business firm ALK Capital, the hope is now that they can add new faces to a squad that has been stretched to the limit in recent times.
The early signs are promising, with defender Nathan Collins (£4.5m) arriving from Stoke City for an initial £12m fee last month, but it’s those attacking midfield areas where additions are needed most.
As it stands, the only offensive asset worth considering is Wood, and it’s worth noting that he will return to training late as he has been named in New Zealand’s squad for the Olympics, with the final on August 7, just one week before the Premier League season kicks off.
FPL managers should probably look elsewhere to begin with, then, and reassess ahead of Gameweek 9 when their fixtures ease.
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