The gulf in class between the Premier League and the Championship continues to grow with each passing season and shows no signs of shortening, especially if the first 11 games of the campaign are anything to go by. Heading into the November international break, Leicester City, QPR and Burnley - last season's three promoted teams - currently occupy the bottom three spots in England's top tier. Leicester's downturn in form is cause for concern, though QPR have shown signs of revival, recently picking up four points from a possible nine.
As the saying goes: "the darkest hour of all, is the hour before day", and after 11 games; Burnley fans will be hoping the sun, at long last, is beginning to rise over Turf Moor. The Clarets finally secured their first league win of the season at the weekend, dispatching of Hull City in a 1-0 win over the Tigers. The victory means Spanish outfit Cordoba are the only team yet to win a game in Europe's top five leagues this season and Sean Dyche will have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Mark Clattenburg blew the full time whistle on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Burnley, however, the win comes at just the wrong time. With the international break now upon us, Dyche loses a number of first teamers to their respective national teams and the two-week break will now seem an eternity to the Clarets boss. The 43-year-old would likely have preferred a game in the coming days in order to gain a head of steam as Burnley look to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.
The worry now is whether the win over Hull was merely a one off. Heading into the fixture, the Tigers had picked up only six points from a possible 15 away from home this season, so were there for the taking. Before the year is out, Burnley face an in-form Newcastle, second-placed Southampton, Tottenham and defending champions Manchester City, while their first league game after the international break is a daunting trip to Stoke.
With only two points picked up away from home - only QPR (zero) have won fewer on the road this season - the Clarets need to hit the ground running when domestic duties resume in two weeks' time. The fear, though, is that Burnley will now revert back to their former selves, despite victory on Saturday. It goes without saying that the Clarets have struggled to adapt to the Premier League following their return to England's top tier.
Burnley acquired the services of strikers Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell over the summer to swell their attacking ranks, but are still firing blanks all too regularly in front of goal. Only Aston Villa (5) have scored fewer goals in England's top tier this term than Burnley (6). Injury to Sam Vokes has not helped the Clarets this term, while Danny Ings' 1 league goal from 24 shots - a conversion rate of only 4.2% - suggests he is not capable of making the leap from the Championship to the Premier League, as do Jutkiewicz and Sordell.
Burnley's profligacy means only Villa (2.1) are averaging fewer shots on target per league game than Burnley (2.9). However, the strikers are not solely responsible for their poor form. Only Crystal Palace (39.4%) and Villa (41.7%) are averaging less possession per match than the Clarets this season (43.4%). Palace under Tony Pulis last season proved that low possession figures does not mean a team will fail to pick up points when needed. The Eagles were able to grind out results and it would perhaps be in Dyche's best interests to adopt a more pragmatic approach for the remaining games of the campaign.
Hull are not the toughest side they will face this season and against the bigger and better teams, Burnley will struggle. A less predicatble means of attack would likely benefit the Clarets. Dyche's side have developed a style of play of 'attacking down the right', with Kieran Trippier in particular responsible for this. Trippier registered more assists (14) than any other player in the Championship last season, but has just one in the Premier League this term, that coming against Hull. If opposing sides can keep Trippier occupied, Burnley's primary offensive outlet is nullified and it's crucial Dyche puts more imaginative attacking plans into practice if they are to build on their win.
Only Palace (68.7%) have a worse pass success rate than Burnley (72.5%). The failure to successfully retain possession is a hindrance on any team, let alone one striving to stave off relegation and midfield men Dean Marney and David Jones can be held accountable for this. The duo are averaging the most passes per game (46.6 and 42.2, respectively) of all Burnley players and the lack of composure on the ball only invites pressure on the defence.
Worse still, Burnley are unable to frequently win the ball back when they do lose possession. Only Villa (14.5) are averaging fewer tackles per game than Burnley (15.9) in the Premier League this campaign. When they do have the ball, the Clarets are struggling to forge the opportunities needed to consistently test the opposition goalkeeper, but lack the necessary doggedness to hunt the ball down when opposing sides are in control.
The step up in quality from the Championship to the Premier League is a big one and it looks as though Burnley are finding it difficult to make that jump between the two leagues. Dyche now has ample time now to work out a system that will help his side overcome Stoke later this month as they aim to climb up the table. However, unless Burnley improve after the international break, the win over Hull may be nothing more than a false dawn in what could be a long season for the Clarets.Suggest a correction