Classy Clarets honing in on top flight return

The trail blazing effort of Vincent Kompany’s all conquering men from Turf Moor is set to bear sweet fruition with the taste of Premier League football just games away. The Clarets require just four more points to seal promotion.    

At a canter, the men from Lancashire have been without a doubt the best side in England’s second tier. Racking up wins at ease and playing beautiful free flowing, attacking football has made even the neutral fan stand up and applaud. The hangover which many clubs experience from falling through the trapdoor to the Championship has not deterred Burnley in the slightest.

Granted, the lucrative riches of the parachute payments from the Premier League has helped owner Alan Pace, allowing former Manchester City captain and Anderlecht manager Vincent Kompany to spend over €38.2 million on players. The most notable of those captures was the arrival of South Africa international Lyle Foster from KCV Westerlo who came at a hefty Championship fee of €11 million.

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The most exciting player for Burnley this term has been the pacy, explosive forward Nathan Tella. Tella was deemed surplus to requirements at Premier League basement club Southampton and the former Arsenal youth product has certainly made a huge impression with Burnley. Deployed in the number 10 role in Kompany’s favoured formation of 4-2-3-1, Tella has flourished. Notching an eye catching 18 goals and contributing 3 assists in the process, he has been the driving force behind their march to the promised land. The exceptional form of Tella sees him as Burnley’s top scorer and third in the scoring charts just behind Coventry sharp shooter Viktor Gyokeres with 18 and Middlesbrough hotshot Chuba Akpom who leads the way with 25 majors.

While Burnley have set the pace at the Championship summit they have left the chasers in the dust. Anytime you can sit at the closing stanza of a promotion race seventeen points clear of the chasing pack of Middlesbrough and Rob Edwards Luton Town in third and fourth respectively, you know you are ready to make that giant leap up the ladder. Burnley have garnered huge results in the promotion race with notable big wins over rivals Middlesbrough 3-1 at Turf Moor back in December and then defeating relegation candidates Huddersfield Town again at home at a canter 4-0.

Turf Moor has been the place where the Clarets have made their stamp. Losing no games at home as been the catalyst of Burnley’s impressive season. With 14 wins and 6 draws, Turf Moor has certainly been a place that Championship sides left empty handed most times than not. Finding the net 43 times while keeping the backdoor shut has also been some of the reasons as to why the Claret and Blues have been trail blazers.

The attacking system to which Kompany demands of his side as been a breath of fresh air to a league that some managers favour safety first. The handbrake has been set down this season and the shackles are clearly off as the highest scorers in the division close in on Premier League football. Players such as Republic of Ireland international Josh Cullen has been instrumental.

Cullen and Josh Brownhill are the anchors in midfield who allow the likes of Manuel Benson, Anass Zaroury flourish on the wings which then allows Tella to put the finishing touches to the hard graft. They have added quality like on-loan Swansea striker Michael Obafemi on the bench, as well as wide man and veteran Johann Berg Gudmondsson who adds more fuel to Burnley’s arsenal.

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The heart of the Burnley revival under Kompany cannot been forgotten either. The rock solid backline marshalled by the highly rated Manchester City loanee Taylor Harwood-Bellis and German Jordan Beyer have seen the Burnley rear-guard rarely breached. On the full back side, Connor Roberts, linked with various top flight clubs in the summer window, and the dangerous Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen have bombed up and down causing teams chaos.

Maatsen in particular has been the key figure in the defence. Claiming an impressive four goals and six assists in a campaign will set any club on their way to a successful season. In the last line of defence, Arijanet Muric has been a revelation. Another player that Kompany went back to his old club to poach he Kosovo native has presided over keeping fifteen clean sheets in 36 league games which equates to 42%.

So, come this Easter weekend the champagne will be close to being popped open. Burnley face Middlesbrough at home on Good Friday and know that a win and a slip up from Luton Town will mean they will only require a point on Easter Monday at home to second place Sheffield United will seal a place amongst England’s elite. And if those results are attained, nobody will begrudge them.

The Author

Jonathan Burke

Mayo Resident, Blackpool supporter

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