- Expected formation: 4-4-2
- Expected line-up: Heaton, Lowton, Mee, Bardsley/Tarkowski, Ward; Walters, Hendrick, Cork/Defour/Westwood, Brady; Vokes, Gray
- Penalties: Gray, Vokes, Walters
- Direct free kicks: Brady, Arfield, Hendrick
- Indirect free kicks: Brady, Arfield, Defour
- Corners: Brady, Arfield, Defour
- Opening fixtures: Che (A), WBA (H), Tot (A), CRY (H), Liv (A), HUD (H), Eve (A), WHU (H), Mci (A), NEW (H)
After a gritty, determined performance, Burnley came out knowing they’d have another season in the top flight of our beloved English league, demonstrating that technical ability, isn’t everything. Not blessed with little magicians like David Silva and Philippe Coutinho, or world-class playmakers like Kevin de Bruyne and Cesc Fabregas – who could probably still pick a perfect pass after downing a few pints and spinning 100 times on the spot – they had to fight and battle hard to get what they wanted.
Dyche’s style may not be pretty on the eye, but you have to give him credit for the high level of cohesion between him and his players, as well as the defensive organisation needed to keep the score down, in order to give them a chance of winning games. They conceded 55 goals last year, which is impressive considering Swansea (70), Crystal Palace (63) and Leicester City (63) all conceded a fair bit more and finished higher than them – the reason for that was the lack of goals (39).
It’s because of this that we may only look to their defence for potential selection for our FPL squads, as their defensive options can provide good value for our teams being so cheap and having reasonable potential to provide us with some clean sheets throughout the season.
Lets have a look at some of the key players of interest at Burnley.
Tom Heaton (£5.0m)
Undoubtedly their best player last season, Heaton was heroic in goal for the Clarets. Like some kind of Olympic gymnast, he conjured up all manner of shapes with his body to keep the opposition from scoring (the one to stop Zlatan from close range immediately springs to mind). Not just for his team, but his performances were heroic for a decent number of FPL managers too, myself included, who saw the potential and kept the faith for the majority of the season and for those managers, he did not disappoint!
Heaton made 140 total saves last season, 58 coming at home and a monumental 82 coming away from home including 10 clean sheets and an impressive 21 bonus points, achieving maximum bonus points on 6 occasions. It could be argued that, even with the hard away games, Heaton could well be used on his own for the first ten games, as he is such an excellent shot-stopper and can make so many saves. Will the price rise be enough to deter us from Heaton? I wouldn’t rule him out completely, although it is hard to justify his price without a solid Keane replacement.
Mee, Lowton and Ward all look nailed on and with them all being just £4.5m, any of these look a good pick if you can find a good rotation with them. Palace rotate perfectly with Burnley all the way to gameweek 10, as discussed in my ‘Scouting Potential GK/DEF Rotations‘ article, so if we find that a £4.5m priced defensive asset at Palace, like Tomkins or Delaney, becomes nailed on before the start of the season, then we can choose one of Mee, Lowton or Ward to rotate. If there’s no £4.5m option at Palace then you’re looking at rotating a £5.0m priced player like Scott Dann – which is unappealing – or going with another team like Newcastle for a rotation, as they have decent fixtures.
Other than clean sheets, the Burnley back line don’t offer too much else. A goal and 2 assists marked the best attacking returns for a defender at Burnley last year, so when we invest in these assets, we’re getting the bare minimum, which is why they are so cheap – you get what you pay for.
It’s very much slim pickings, I’ll be honest.
The only notable interest in this area for Burnley from an FPL point of view, is the potential of Jonathan Walters (£5.5m) who has been re-classified as a midfielder for the new season signing from Stoke City. If played up front at any stage during the season, and it is an if as he will most likely replace Boyd on the right of the 4-4-2, then he might just be worth a look for our 4th midfielder slots, but even then, he’s not gonna turn out to be the next Joshua King – I’ll gladly eat the proverbial hat if he scores higher than Josh King’s 178 points last season!
Andre Gray (£6.5m)
Probably the most enticing of the forward options at Burnley. His return of 9 goals, 3 assists and 10 bonus points was half decent in 2260 minutes, which put him as the 15th best forward on the total FPL forwards list. However, at this price I think there are much better options this year. Jay Rodriguez, Dwight Gayle and Charlie Austin to name a few.
Sam Vokes (£6.0m) did fairly well last year too, grabbing 10 goals, 4 assists and 12 bonus points putting him as the 12th best forward on the total FPL forwards list. At £0.5m cheaper, he could well provide the better value of the two if you want a Burnley forward.
With Heaton being given his well-deserved price rise after his unbelievable performance last year, interest in Burnley assets is low from an FPL point of view. Their midfield is like the apocalyptic wastelands from Mad Max – a vast nothingness. From that, the strikers struggle to bang in the goals at an above average level.
This leaves us with the defence as our only avenue for investment. Even then, without Michael Keane and with no apparent sign of a replacement, how much more solid will they be? A lot rests on a Keane replacement, so my advice would be to wait and see who they sign, as Keane was a huge part of why Burnley kept the scoring low and how they managed to survive.