Sunday 24 September 2017

Dyche embraces Burnley popularity

Burnley manager Sean Dyche is feeling the love for his side's fighting spirit
Burnley manager Sean Dyche is feeling the love for his side's fighting spirit

Sean Dyche is feeling the love from fans of other clubs as he attempts to defy the odds and keep Burnley in the Premier League.

The Clarets have the smallest budget of any team in the top flight but go into the final 12 games of the season separated from safety only by goal difference.

Burnley have covered more miles than any other team this season and matched the global superstars of Manchester City and Chelsea away from home with a squad consisting predominantly of British and Irish players.

If Dyche was in any way concerned Ashley Barnes' controversial clash with Nemanja Matic at Stamford Bridge last weekend might harm Burnley's appeal, he would have been reassured by a trip to the Etihad on Tuesday.

He said: "I was at Manchester City the other night and there were loads of City fans coming up saying, 'I hope you do it'.

"There's a story behind the story. Written off at the beginning of the season, written off after game 10, and I think there is a stiff-upper-lip mentality to that with British fans.

"That underdog spirit and bulldog spirit, back in the day. I think it's still there, it just needs igniting once in a while, and maybe people deem us to be part of that."

Burnley are back at Turf Moor this weekend, with Swansea the visitors fresh from their victory over Manchester United.

The Clarets gave United a scare at Old Trafford earlier this month before slipping to a 3-1 loss and then fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Dyche admitted it has been hard to take that Burnley's performances have not been rewarded with more points.

He said: "Particularly the last few weeks, I think we've been operating at a very high level. And yet, we've got a couple of points out of three games.

"I'm surprised but that's the nature of the Premier League. It's very tough to win. The next one comes and we'll be ready for it for sure. We're in good shape mentally and physically.

"I think we've got complete freedom to go hard for the next 12 games and see where it takes us."

Burnley have no fresh injury worries. Matt Taylor is closing in on a return after making a slow recovery from Achilles surgery but is not yet ready for the matchday squad.

Dean Marney and Kevin Long will both be out until next season after suffering cruciate ligament damage.

Bafetimbi Gomis' fortune in front of goal might just have changed for the better according to Swansea manager Garry Monk.

Gomis has had a frustrating time since switching from Lyon last summer, first firmly cast in the role of understudy to Wilfried Bony and then finding goals hard to come by after the Ivory Coast striker completed his initial £25million January move to Manchester City.

The 12-times capped France forward hardly endeared himself to the Swansea faithful as he appeared to agitate for his own January exit but Monk insisted that the 29-year-old was staying put at the Liberty Stadium.

Gomis rewarded Monk's faith with the winner against Manchester United last weekend and the Swansea boss was not bothered that the Frenchman's second league goal was a complete fluke as he inadvertently deflected Jonjo Shelvey's long-range shot past David de Gea.

"You do need that little bit of luck sometimes, for that first one to go in and then you can go on a run," Monk said.

"You see all strikers doing it and hopefully this is his chance to do that.

"Bafe could have scored a couple more - he had one cleared off the line against United and had a couple of chances in the previous game at West Brom.

"But I've said before that Bafe's working hard and he's had some good chances to score those goals before, but unfortunately the luck wasn't quite on his side."

Monk admits it has been a period of transformation for Swansea since Bony's departure as the Ivorian was so central to their way of playing.

But he says the squad has done a lot of work on training ground to attune themselves to Gomis' style of play.

"Obviously we are training more for the way that Bafe moves and the way he wants to receive the ball and, hopefully, we'll see more of that in the next 12 games," Monk said.

"But Bafe will always be a threat, he's a top player and the team are getting more used to the way that he plays.

"All strikers want to score goals. That's what they live and breathe for and they all want to go on runs."

Monk has no new injury concerns. His biggest dilemma is whether to revert back to his favoured 4-3-3 formation after switching to a midfield diamond for last week's 2-1 victory over Manchester United.

If Monk decides to do that then Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero could be recalled, with Nathan Dyer, who was omitted from the 18-man match-day squad against United, returning to the bench.

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