Burnley edge closer to first points
The league table is meaningless this early in the season anyway. At least, that's what Burnley fans will be telling themselves after their side fell just short of picking up their first point of the season by going down narrowly 1-0 to Swansea City.
Burnley are now bottom after two matches and face Manchester United at Turf Moor next weekend. It doesn't get any easier in this league!
But Saturday's defeat was a much improved performance from the Clarets, who seemed to have put the nerves on show in Monday's 3-1 defeat to Chelsea behind them. However, it's results that count and Burnley are yet to register a point after their first two fixtures, although they were admittedly tough matches.
Swansea will be wondering how they managed to hold out to win after Burnley threw everything at them in a gripping second half, but Sean Dyche's team still only managed to force one save of note out of Swans goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. In contrast, Jason Shackell headed a goalbound Wilfried Bony effort off the line and Gylfi Sigurdsson shot straight at Tom Heaton from six yards in the first 20 minutes.
That's not to say Burnley had no opportunities. Danny Ings was inches away from opening the scoring in the first 10 minutes and a Lukas Jutkiewicz header flew narrowly over the bar after the break. The Premier League is a steep learning curve and failing to take advantage of those half-chances was ultimately costly for Dyche's side. But his strikers are getting closer.
At the other end, Nathan Dyer's strike was another soft goal to concede from Burnley's point of view. Fingers of blame can be pointed at a few individuals, but a single pass from Sigurdsson easily sliced through the Clarets' backline leaving goalkeeper Heaton completely exposed and fleet-footed winger Dyer clear on goal. Heaton might be disappointed to have been beaten by a weak shot at his near post but he was wary of the simple square ball to the lurking Bony. Perhaps he showed too much of the goal to Dyer.
Still, Burnley have conceded four goals in two games and left-back Ben Mee has been at fault (to some extent) for all of them. His place is likely to come under threat from new signing Stephen Ward as a result. Mee was excellent for Burnley last season but the Premier League is an unforgiving place. Another option is to move him to centre-back alongside Shackell -- replacing Michael Duff -- but that would leave Burnley with two left-footers in the heart of their defence.
A big positive for Burnley was how well their midfield performed, especially against a side with greater numbers in the middle of the park. David Jones and Dean Marney were able to exert a high level of influence in the second half and they showed enough quality to suggest they can compete against Premier League teams. Dyche's 4-4-1-1 formation may work away from home after all. Jutkiewicz was good again, but watching videos of Bony's hold-up play could be useful for the striker as the Ivorian's strength and cleverness in possession was phenomenal.
Certainly, Dyche will be buoyed by his team's much improved second half performance when they had Garry Monk's Swans on the ropes without being able to land the killer blow of a goal. The Clarets shifted the ball much more swiftly and accurately and will take lots of confidence from matching an established Premier League club.
Clarets supporters will still be hoping the club can add two or three quality new signings before the transfer window shuts. Areas such as central midfield and central defence have been badly neglected in the summer dealings so far and failing to add reinforcements in these departments could cause problems for the club in the long period until the transfer window reopens. There also seems to be a lack of depth, with Dyche's substitutes Ross Wallace and Ashley Barnes having little impact on the match.
What was most clear from this game was that Burnley lack a game-changer from the bench and the board will need to back a seemingly frustrated Dyche in the transfer market, with West Brom defender Craig Dawson and Wigan midfielder James McArthur seemingly the club's two main targets.