5 reasons behind Burnley's success this season
With 11 games played, we have a familiar looking top 6 in the Premier League. Manchester City look set to run away with the title and the rest of the sides are expected to fight for the other three UEFA Champions League places.
Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea are the favourites to finish in the top 4. Liverpool and Arsenal are in contention as well, but they seem to be lagging behind at the moment. Behind the top 6, we have a big surprise package. It's Burnley, who finished 16th last season. Right now, they are actually level on points with Arsenal and Liverpool.
It's been an amazing rise by the side that's playing in the Premier League for only the 4th time. Here's an overview of how a struggling bottom half club has been transformed into a team that's challenging for a European spot:
#5 Manager Sean Dyche
It all starts with the manager, of course. Sean Dyche might be the league's most underrated manager. The 46-year-old former centre-back has moulded his team into a side that's very tough to break down. Burnley has so far conceded just nine goals. Only the two Manchester sides and Tottenham currently have a better defensive record.
Dyche plays a simple 4-4-2 formation or a 4-4-1-1 setup depending on the situation. He likes to use an extra midfielder in away games and in matches against the bigger sides. He doesn't set up his side ultra-defensively like many other Premier League managers tend to do when taking on the better sides.
This has helped Burnley be a threat offensively as well. For example, they have managed to score against Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea this season. They even beat the latter away from home 3-2.
The man, who's sometimes called "The Ginger Mourinho", also deserves credit for his man management. Burnley plays as a unit week in week out, which means everybody in the team has to know their role to perfection and Dyche has helped different players to adapt to it if needed.
Steven Defour was a very unusual signing for Burnley side back in 2016. A record fee of £8 million was paid for the man that was on Manchester United's radar during Sir Alex Ferguson's final years at the club.
He's technically very gifted and a good addition for any side that likes to play the possession game. At first, he struggled in this Burnley side and was even dropped at the end of last season, but he's now an automatic choice.
Burnley has a unique pre-season among Premier League clubs, which includes "Gaffer's Day" - Dyche makes his players run two hours to see if they are ready for the very physically demanding league.
Defour didn't spend the pre-season at Burnley a year ago and got his first taste of it last summer. "It was hard, obviously, but I enjoyed it. It was a good day and I started to realize I can do the job," said the Belgian about the experience recently.