With just ten games to go for most teams in the Premier League the race for European places is hotting up. Just on the edge of this race Burnley are putting together a run of form that could well see them pip a host of bigger clubs to a place in next season’s Europa League.
A run of six games without defeat has put Sean Dyche’s men firmly into the talking for Europe and it’s been a steady season for the Clarets comfortable in mid-table for the most part and currently two points away from the magical forty point mark which generally ensures Premier League survival.
Dyche’s side last qualified for Europe only two years ago and although they failed to qualify for the group stages that season the early start in July for competitive games caught up with such a small squad and Burnley struggled to recapture the form of the previous season finishing fifteenth in the final table.
Wolves have shown this season that it is possible to compete in Europe and maintain a good Premier League showing without a squad that can be rotated and rested like a majority of the bigger clubs and it be interesting to see how Dyche and the Burnley board will approach the summer transfer window should the club once again be heading for foreign shores.
It’s refreshing to look at the top end of the table and find Leicester, Sheffield Utd, Wolves and Burnley in amongst the established clubs, it gives the feel that this season is much more of a competition behind the runaway leaders Liverpool and with Wolves’ great showing so far in the Europa League it shows the smaller clubs can compete to a level.
Dyche knows though there is still plenty of work to be done this season to secure a place and much might depend on Manchester City’s appeal against their two year European competition expulsion as to whether the Clarets make it in or not.
Hosting their fellow challengers and the unpredictability of Tottenham Hotspur today could prove crucial with so few games left, indeed Burnley will climb above Tottenham if they take the three points. Depending also which Manchester City they come up against the following week, followed by Watford’s visit to Turf Moor, the Clarets would go into the international weekend in great health whilst also having passed the survival point mark at the same time.
There is the matter of the negative goal difference which is worth almost an extra point to the teams around them but unlike some of the teams around them players are chipping in with goals, you only have to look at the likes of Tottenham to wonder where their goals will come from for the rest of the season.
Chris Wood’s ten goals have been crucial throughout the season and with a fit again Jay Rodriguez chipping in with eight so far, the Clarets have much to call upon when they need to find the net. Add in six for Ashley Barnes and there would be plenty of other clubs who would prefer these figures for their three top scorers.
With this years league being so tight there is very little margin for error for any club with hopes of the top four or indeed a Europa League placing but with so many twists and turns already going on, it would be a great advert for the Premier League if Wolves, Sheffield Utd and Burnley can upset the odds and gain a European place each, it would certainly give a few other clubs some thinking to do over the summer.
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