Saturday 29 April 2017

Burnley in good shape with seven games to go - Sean Dyche

Burnley manager Sean Dyche is breathing a little easier after victory over Stoke
Burnley manager Sean Dyche is breathing a little easier after victory over Stoke

Burnley boss Sean Dyche believes his team are in a strong position to secure a second year in the Premier League after arresting their slide with a vital victory over Stoke.

The Clarets were coming off an eight-game winless run, encompassing the entirety of February and March, and had begun to tumble back towards an increasingly lively relegation battle.

But they were let off the hook by a series of misses from Marko Arnautovic before Jeff Hendrick and George Boyd combined in the 58th minute, the latter sweeping home for the second time this season to seal a 1-0 success at Turf Moor.

That took them to 35 points and created a healthy, if not conclusive, buffer zone of eight between themselves and the bottom three.

"We had to work very, very hard for this win but we're in good shape with seven games to go," said Dyche.

"There was a bit of noise around the run we've been on but we knew that would come. The team is performing and there's points on the board. We've given ourselves a good platform."

Their return already eclipses the club's previous Premier League return of 33 points - a tally which saw them relegated two years ago - and has been built overwhelmingly around their superb home record.

All but three of their points have come at Turf Moor, a record Dyche is thankful for but cannot fully explain having deemed his side unlucky travellers at times this season.

"Early season some of our performances away were not good enough but as we've got into the season I've lost large chunks of my scalp scratching my head about how we haven't won away," he said.

"Some of the performances have certainly been worthy of it. But if you're a fan of Burnley and you've got your season ticket you're certainly getting value for money at home. The performances here have been fantastic."

Potters boss Mark Hughes saw his side draw a blank for the third time in the last four outings and conceded they lacked cutting edge at the business end.

Arnautovic was the guilty man on this occasion, moving into scoring positions on at least three occasions only to spurn each chance on a forgettable evening.

For a player capable of such finesse it was a highly frustrating performance and one that probably cost Stoke a point.

"It's just one of those things," said Hughes of the Austrian playmaker's slack showing.

"A couple of times he broke, straight through once and he over-ran it and another time he waited for Saido (Berahino) and maybe he could have gone solo and got a shot off.

"We certainly had the chance and should have converted at least one of them. We just needed a little quality, a little guile and the ability to pick the right pass at the right time at the top end of the pitch.

"That was the only thing missing in my view."

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