Another away game and another game which could have been closer ends up running away from Burnley. Similar to the match against Tottenham, when they had a dubious offside decision against them, Burnley pushed West Ham close for the first 15 minutes, conceded a goal and ended up finding themselves 5-0 down. It must be infuriating for the manager, Owen Coyle to constantly see his side start well, get caught cold and then play when things are beyond them.
It must be especially galling for him when the performance against Manchester City showed promise and a real determination to hold on and keep in a game. Gaining a point at Eastlands against such attacking intent and resources and then falling so far behind at Upton Park leaves me scratching my head. They seem to keep getting caught cold, by sucker punches, when playing well. I know that a lack of nous and experience can catch you out in the Premiership, but to this extent?
Add to that, the excellent home record that the Clarets have and it leaves you bemused. The concern for me is that whilst the home form is currently excellent, it can’t continue. Presently they’ve got the joint third best home record in the Premiership, with Sunderland and behind Manchester United and Chelsea but the worst away record. At home, that’s an impressive bit of form, but the bad home run will come and it’s the points that newly promoted sides nick away from home that make the difference.
Burnley have the worst away record in the Premiership, so when the bad run comes, they could find themselves sucked down the table toward the relegation battle. Currently 5 points off Bolton Wanderers who sit in 18th, December will see the home form come under a severe test. Arsenal, Fulham and Bolton will all be visiting in the run up to the end of the year, interspersed with away games at the struggling trio of Portsmouth, Wolves and injury ravaged Everton.
Burnley’s season could hinge on getting something from those 3 away games and with all three teams currently below them in the league, it’s crucial they take 3 points from one of them. Yet those sides will be viewing the visit of Burnley with the feeling that they can win the game. This is a side that’s conceded 25 goals in 7 away games, an average of 3.5 a match. Any side that’s struggling for points will be praying for a visit from Burnley currently and they need to tighten up.
Not doubt that for me, December is a crucial month for most sides. With 6 league games to be played in the next 4 weeks, this is the period that can see sides cut adrift, or kick on and move onward and upward. Burnley have shown a resilience and strength of character at Turf Moor that they simply can’t replicate on the road. Tactically, they seem too open and set up to concede on their travels, individual mistakes compounding the tactical naivety.
Of course, it’s refreshing to see sides go away from home and try and play football, but Burnley’s main concern is now to make themselves tough to beat away from home. They need to be able to grind out games, rather than try and out score the opposition. It may not be pretty to watch, but survival is the key here and Burnley’s away form could yet come back to haunt them. Owen Coyle will be hoping for some much needed defensive strength in his Christmas stocking this year.
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