Stoke v Burnley Preview

With Stoke coming up against Burnley tomorrow we sat down and had a chat with Tony from Up the Clarets.

Burnley have been on fire at home this season, much like ourselves back in our first few years, so I’m glad that this weekend’s match is at the bet365, what’s been the reason for such a sharp contrast in form home and away?

I wish we knew the reason and then we might be able to do something about it. I think every team expects to win more home points than away points but not to the level we are currently experiencing.

It’s not as though we’ve really deserved anything. Chelsea were far too good for us on the day but defeats at Leicester and West Brom were to a great extent self inflicted yet at home we’ve beaten Liverpool and were so unlucky not to get anything from games against Arsenal and Manchester City.

I expect away points to be difficult to obtain throughout the season but we will certainly have to solve the dilemma if we are to progress as a Premier League club.

It seems to be so far so good for Burnley this season, are you confident you can beat the drop?

We are certainly capable of beating the drop but know how difficult it is for a club the size of ours to pick up points at this level.

It’s our third season in the Premier League. We were nowhere near equipped the first time and then lost our manager half way through and last time we got our recruitment wrong in both windows, missing out on much needed new players.

This time we are stronger and although the transfer windows still prove difficult for us we are getting better. I’d settle for 17th I suppose but it would give us such a boost to stay up this season.

Last time in the Premier League Burnley didn’t seem to be as capable of survival as you do this year, what’s changed since that last campaign?

It’s just that the club is in a stronger position than previously. The 2014/15 Premier League season saw us get the funds needed to build a new training ground. We were the first club in the country to have such a thing back in the 1950s but it was nowhere near what’s needed now.

This time we’ve been able to strengthen the squad more and although, admittedly, it’s not the strongest squad in the Premier League, it’s a good one at a club where we are now looking much more like a Premier League club both on and off the field.

Stoke were heavily linked with Michael Keane this summer, how important has keeping hold of him been?

Vital is the word I’d use. For a time it looked as though he might be on his way to Leicester but we stood firm and turned down their offers.

He’s an outstanding young defender who can only get better and it has been fantastic to see him win a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad. He’ll get even better and will eventually outgrow us but for now it is so important that he’s in the centre of our defence.

Have you seen much of Stoke this season? Where do you see the Potters finishing?

To be honest I’ve not seen too much of them. I was surprised at the difficult start though looking at the quality of the squad so I’m not surprised there has been an improvement recently, what is it, one defeat in the last eight games.

I don’t think Stoke will be anywhere near the bottom come the end of the season and this from someone who expected them to go straight down when they won promotion in 2008.

Is there any in Stoke’s side who you are really worried about coming up against?

The home game against Stoke last time was a nothing end of season clash but when we won at the then named Britannia Stadium we had to survive something of a second half onslaught.

Bojan was the player who really impressed that day. I don’t know how he’s been playing this season but I do see him as a threat. Joe Allen is the one who has been getting all the rave reviews and I see he is available again after suspension. He too will be one we need to keep an eye on.

Keane, Heaton and Defour have been gaining all the plaudits for you, has there been anyone under the radar who Stoke should worry about?

The player who has really impressed me is Johann Berg Gudmundsson but the good news for Stokies is that he’s been ruled out with a hamstring injury. He signed from Charlton in the summer and is looking a real bargain at £2 million.

Our strength is the team though, not individuals. We’ve got an incredible team spirit at Burnley and that is so important to us. I think, because of that, we are one of those teams where the sum is greater than the parts.

Are there any weaknesses in your side going into this clash?

If we had no weaknesses then we’d be sat on top of the league I guess. We have them yes, but generally we are a very tight unit.

Have you ever tried an Oatcake?

I have to admit my answer to that is no but not for any other reason than I’ve never really thought about it. Maybe tomorrow could be the ideal opportunity. Our next away game is at West Ham but I certainly won’t be going near the eels.

What’s your score prediction? 

It’s about time our fortunes improved away from home so I’ll go with a repeat of the scoreline last time we played at Stoke, a 2-1 win for the Clarets.

So if you want to have a quick investigation into Burnley check out more stuff here:

Interview by Tom Thrower

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