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Wolves v Burnley: Inside track on the Clarets

By Luke Hatfield | Wolves | Published:

Wolves tackle Burnley this weekend - get the inside track on the Clarets here.

Ashley Barnes of Burnley and Willy Boly of Wolverhampton Wanderers (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

We spoke with Charlotte Coates from the Lancashire Telegraph, Dave Roberts from the NoNayNever podcast, and Andy Jones from The Athletic, to get a proper take on Sean Dyche's side.

See what they had to say here...

How have Burnley started off this season? Are there good signs for the club?

CC: With one win and one loss this season, Burnley have started well.

The first half in the 3-0 win against Southampton was one of the worst halves of football you could watch, but Sean Dyche got in to his side at the break and they were different team in the second half and blew Southampton away.

They went to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal on Saturday not expecting much as it wasn’t a happy hunting ground for them.

Despite going behind early, they dug in deep and equalised before half-time.

Arsenal came out on top in the end, but Burnley can be more than encouraged by their performance.

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Arsenal's Joe Willock (left) and Burnley's Chris Wood battle for the ball.

DR: After a slow start last season, it was good to get off the mark and pick up three points with a good home win against Southampton on the opening weekend.

This was followed by a visit to Arsenal last Saturday, and even though that resulted in a narrow defeat, I was pleased with our intensity, and the way we approached the match.

The team appears to have carried on the good signs they showed in pre-season, and look a stronger outfit than at the same stage twelve months ago.

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AJ: Sean Dyche will be pleased with how his side has started this season.

The opening day victory against Southampton was tough for the first hour but once they went ahead, the result was never in doubt.

Yes, they were beaten by Arsenal but there were a lot of positives to take from the game, particularly in the first half where they were very impressive.

There is a good feeling around the club at the moment, compared to the league struggles at the beginning of last season.

The performances so far have echoed that and Dyche will be hoping that continues on Sunday.

Last year seemed like a bit of a struggle from afar, what are the expectations for this campaign?

CC: If you ask anyone at the club, the target going in to every season in the Premier League is survival.

Sean Dyche

If you ask the fans then they may be want a bit more than that now they are in to their fourth successive campaign and have finished as high as seventh.

DR: The first half of the season was very tough, and after a heavy home defeat to Everton on Boxing Day, many Burnley supporters were left wondering if the team could reverse the decline.

However, the second half of the season was a different story, and Sean Dyche's team was able to rediscover the sort of resilience and consistency, which had resulted a seventh place finish during the previous campaign.

Survival is always the primary target at the outset, but such is the close nature of this league, outside of the top six, there is always the potential to push for a top half finish.

AJ: Burnley will be looking to reproduce the form they displayed in the last six months of last season that helped steer them away from any relegation threat.

A Europa League challenge, like they managed two seasons ago is unlikely given the strength, quality and spending power of Wolves, Leicester and Everton but I think the expectations will ultimately be aiming for a much more consistent season with the target a top ten finish.

What transfer business have the Clarets done over the summer, and what have you made of those moves so far?

CC: The transfer window went how it always does for Burnley, very astute signings and not much money being spent.

The signing of Jay Rodriguez appeased some of the fans as he has unfinished business at Turf Moor.

I think the capture of Danny Drinkwater can be one to look out for as he adds that little bit of creativity to the midfield – although he’s unlikely to be involved on Sunday.

Erik Pieters was signed as cover for left-back Charlie Taylor, but he has started both games and has registered two assists.

DR: The new faces in the senior squad are Erik Pieters, who has come in from Stoke City at left full-back, and the return of Burnley-born Jay Rodriguez, from West Brom, to provide another option up front.

In addition, Bailey Peacock-Farrell was signed from Leeds United to provide extra cover in the goalkeeping department, following the departure of Tom Heaton to Aston Villa.

We also needed some support in central midfield, and despite attempts to make a permanent signing, the loan acquisition of Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea will provide us with another very good option in this position.

AJ: Whilst they didn’t do anything particularly eye-catching, Burnley did some smart business in the summer window.

They brought Jay Rodriguez back to the club after a terrific season with West Brom and added some experience at left back with Erik Peters who has settled quickly.

Tom Heaton left the club for Aston Villa, but The Clarets moved quickly to secure Bailey Peacock-Farrell from Leeds and finally Danny Drinkwater came in on loan on deadline day; he is currently working his way back to match fitness.

Who are the big danger men for Burnley and why?

CC: The danger man for Burnley is Ashley Barnes.

He’s started the season on fire having scored three goals in two games. People think he is a striker who is only capable of putting himself about, but don’t be fooled, he is a very intelligent player and his link-up play is excellent. Not many defenders will relish playing against him this season.

Youngster Dwight McNeil was excellent when he came in to the side last campaign, he is a winger who likes to beat a man and get a cross in.

Ashley Barnes is a big threat.

DR: Strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes both hit double figures during the last Premier League campaign, and will be looking to match that this season.

Although Chris Wood was scoring for fun in pre-season, he has yet to get off the mark in competitive matches, whereas Ashley Barnes, who didn't find the back of the net during pre-season, has already scored three goals in two Premier League matches.

Either striker is capable of getting on the score sheet, and there is a healthy level of competition between them, with the added impetus of now having Jay Rodriguez to push them further.

Dwight McNeil was also a revelation on the left of midfield during the second half of last season, and Burnley fans have high hopes for him in 2019/20 as well.

AJ: Ashley Barnes has started the season on fire netting three goals in the first two games. He’s always hassling defenders, never giving them a chance to settle, and when he gets an opportunity you back him to take it.

His strike partner Chris Wood is always a handful as well due to his physicality and the pair combine well.

Out wide, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Dwight McNeil are quick and direct and can cause problems.

What kind of football can we expect from Sean Dyche's side this season?

CC: Of course, like a lot of teams in the bottom half of the Premier League, Burnley will send it long when they need to. But, this isn’t the case all of the time.

They like to get the ball out to their wingers and then to whip crosses in for their strikers to battle for.

Sean Dyche likes his side to be very fit, so they will press the opposition high up the pitch to try and force mistakes.

DR: Burnley have always been a hard-working team, and under Sean Dyche the team ethic means that the whole is more substantial than the sum of its parts.

The system tends to be based on trying to keep a solid foundation at the back, using a low block system to get bodies behind the ball, and then to press as a team in virtually all areas of the pitch.

However, there have been some signs, during the second half of last season, that a slightly more expansive mindset is possible.

Sean Dyche

Dwight McNeil, in particular, has been the catalyst to provide a renewed attacking impetus, and he is only going to get better with age.

The challenge, as always, is to keep the defensive solidity, but building on that by trying to offer more in the attacking third.

AJ: The Arsenal performance was surprising to some with the nature of Burnley’s high pressing which worked really well in the first half especially.

It will be a wait and see as to the approach they adopt against Wolves. Generally, though, the principals of how they play have remained the same and will continue to stay.

At the back, Burnley are compact and look to keep it tight, making it difficult for the opposition.

They always work hard and they have Barnes and Wood at the top of the pitch to bring others into play and score the goals.

What's your predicted XI for Burnley?

CC: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters; Gudmundsson, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Barnes, Rodriguez

DR: It wouldn't surprise me at all, to see Sean Dyche opt for the same XI, which has started the first two matches of the season:

Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters; Gudmundsson, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Barnes, Wood

AJ: Fitness permitting, I don’t see Dyche making any changes to his starting line-up. The players he has picked so far have performed well and there is no real need to change.

He may decide to give a start to Jay Rodriguez, who has come off the bench in both games so far, but I can’t see many tweaks, if any.

With a Carabao Cup game coming up in midweek that will provide a chance of game time for those players who have been on the bench.

Burnley XI: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Gudmundsson, Cork, Westwood, McNeil, Barnes, Wood

Having been through it yourself, how do you think Wolves can manage Europa League and domestic football this season? It seemed to hinder Burnley dramatically before...

CC: I think Wolves will cope with the Europa League better than Burnley did because of the stronger squad at their disposal.

Players such as Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez should be playing in European competition and will relish the opportunity to do so.

Burnley have been through the tribulations of Europa League football, but remain in the top flight after a testing last campaign.

I still think it will have an impact on some of Wolves’ results in the Premier League because Europe does take a lot out of a side.

DR: Although Burnley fell at the final hurdle, before the group stage qualification, with hindsight the European matches were a hindrance for the first few weeks of last season.

It may well have proved to be an ever bigger issue, if we had progressed to the group stages, but we'll never know that for certain.

Although there is a definite prestige involved with representing your country in Europe, it does come at a price, and clubs with much bigger squads have suffered in the past.

AJ: It is never easy to do. Burnley started the league season very slowly and they spent the rest of the season recovering from it. They didn’t win any of their first five league games.

Wolves have got a really good squad, but the amount of games can take its toll as the season wears on.

It always depends on how far you get, but the Thursday-Sunday fixtures do catch up to players and Wolves’ league form could slip if they aren’t careful.

What have you made of Wolves from afar, do you think they have what it takes to break into the top six this season?

CC: I really rate Wolves. They play a good brand of football and can cause any side problems on their day.

Willy Boly is a huge man and is like a wall at the back and then you’ve got Ruben Neves in the midfield spreading play out to the full-backs and wingers.

Conor Coady is a great captain for the side, too. However, I don’t think they will break in to the top six purely because I don’t think anyone will break that for a long time.

DR: Wolves had a very impressive campaign last season, following their promotion, and to finish seventh and earn a place in Europe were both massive achievements.

However, second seasons can often be more difficult, and it may be that consolidation is the order of the day.

Wolves have handled themselves well in their first two games. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

Having to cope with the extra demands of a Europa League group stage campaign, if Torino can be overcome over two legs, certainly won't make that challenge any easier.

AJ: I was very impressed by Wolves last season and they fully deserved a Europa League spot, especially with their performances against the top six.

They’ve had two tricky fixtures to begin this campaign but for them to break into the top six this season, they will need to consistently produce good results against the sides lower down the table.

They certainly have the quality in the squad with the likes of Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves but their progress in the Europa League could be a huge factor in whether they achieve it or not.

Your match prediction?

CC: With Wolves playing in Italy on Thursday night, I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw with Jimenez and Barnes both scoring.

DR: It will be another tough match for Burnley, but based on the positive signs at Arsenal last week, and the fact that Wolves have had to face Manchester United on Monday, plus a Europa League trip to Italy on Thursday, I am going to predict a 1-1 draw for Sunday's game.

AJ: I think this one will be fairly tight. Wolves were excellent in the second half against Manchester United, but tiredness may play a part due to their Europa League game on Thursday. Burnley do carry a goal threat and will be difficult to breakdown. I’ll say 1-1.

You can follow Charlotte and read here work here. You can follow Dave here, whilst Andy's work can be tracked here.

Luke Hatfield

By Luke Hatfield
Digital Sports Journalist - @LHatfield_Star

Digital Sports Journalist based in Wolverhampton working on the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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