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Burnley finally ready to make it third time lucky in Premier League survival bid

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Promotion campaigns are always great fun, for supporters, staff and players alike. The excitement often gives the whole town a buzz, but as strange as it sounds, Burnley will be hoping these days are behind them.

After two instant relegations following previous promotions to the Premier League, the Lancastrians will be hoping to strike third time lucky, and remove the unwanted tag of being a 'yo-yo club.'

Here are five reasons why the Clarets are ready to kick on and achieve something they haven't done before - survive in the Premier League.

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Manager

First things first, Burnley have a knowledgeable, young and extremely determined manager in Sean Dyche. The 'Ginger Mourinho', as Burnley fans affectionately label him, has now achieved promotion twice in his three-and-a-half year reign as manager, whilst also experiencing relegation sandwiched in between.

The loyalty that the chairman showed Dyche after their 19th place finish, and vice versa, has had a hugely positive effect on the team. With most relegations nowadays accompanied by removal of the manager, bouncing back to instant promotion is now a rarer sight in the modern game.

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Keeping Dyche has allowed a large majority of the squad to stay and gel further, and this stability will set them in good stead for the 2016/17 season.

Learning from old mistakes

Recruitment was a hotly debated issue during their last stint in the top division, with Sean Dyche constantly insisting that he would not over-spend and maintain his trust the players who had got the club promoted.

This resulted in a season-long relegation scrap which the Clarets were ultimately unable to escape from. The conundrum of having a squad capable of winning the Championship yet not having quite enough quality for the next level is one that so far Burnley have been unable to solve.

Charlton Athletic v Burnley - Sky Bet Championship

With the staff and owner now wiser and more aware of the Premier League standard, you would expect them to have tweaked their policies to better prepare for the top flight.

Goals

Leading on from learning from errors, Dyche's side struggled to find the back of the net consistently, scoring a measly 28 goals in 38 games in the 2014/15 campaign.

This term, albeit in a lower division, Burnley seem to have rectified this issue by becoming the joint-highest scorers of the Championship with 72 goals. The encouraging sign is that 40 of those have come from the main strike partnership.

The form of ex-Luton Town hotshot Andre Gray will leave Premier League defences terrified. In only his second year in the Football League, Gray has finished as top scorer with 25 strikes, adding to the 15 goals of fellow forward Sam Vokes.

Burnley v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship

But if required in a tougher league, Gray is the type of striker who could easily lead the line by himself as he showed with previous employers Brentford.

He has supreme strength in holding the ball up and loves to run in behind to either lash home a one-on-one or to run into the channels and cross it in, as shown by his nine assists.

Gray is a raw talent that in many ways mirrors the style of play of Jamie Vardy, and with the way he similarly stepped up three divisions with consummate ease, he will be a key man in the Clarets' survival attempts.

Defensive steel

Statistically, Burnley have the joint-second meanest defence with Hull City this season, conceding 35 goals which was bettered only by fellow Premier League newcomers Middlesbrough.

This has been helped by the 20 clean sheets collected by England goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who has himself been aided by a steady defence in front of him.

Burnley v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship

Former Manchester United trainee Michael Keane has been a widely recognised standout performer this term, reportedly attracting interest from Everton along the way. If the rumours result in a transfer away from Turf Moor then the club have an excellent ready-made replacement in James Tarkowski, signed from Brentford in January.

Good teams are often built upon solid defences, and Burnley's rearguard will be aiming to ensure they can reproduce this season's showing.

Brilliant 2016

The Clarets managed to go the whole second half of the season unbeaten, with the side really catching the eye in January.

Burnley produced two mesmerising away performances in a row to thrash MK Dons 5-0 and beat Brentford 3-1, in a game which could have easily been 5-0 by half-time. Since then, they haven't looked back, sealing promotion with a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor on the penultimate week of the season.

Burnley v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship

They have put together this 23-game unbeaten streak with almost the same squad that came down the previous season. Andre Gray, Matt Lowton and experienced midfield leader Joey Barton have been the only major changes to the starting 11. This could be seen as positive or negative, as the team didn't have the quality to stay in the division a year ago.

But the extended period of time in playing together in a winning side will surely give Burnley confidence, and with a few additions will be ready to push up the Premier League table.

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Topics:
George Boyd
Joey Barton
Andre Gray
David Jones
Ben Mee
Sam Vokes
Football
Championship
Premier League
Stephen Ward
Tom Heaton
Tom Heaton
Dean Marney
Michael Duff

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