Inside Track: Burnley

By SFC Media time Fri 01 Feb Burnley v Saints
Photo by Gareth Copley | Getty Images

What can Saints expect from the trip to Turf Moor? We get the lowdown on this weekend's opponents from Burnley Express Sports Editor Chris Boden...

It’s now five league games unbeaten after the 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Have Burnley got back to what they’re renowned for of late and what’s the mood like at the club?

The mood never really changes. Even when they were losing games, the manager never gets carried away when they’re winning or too down when the form isn’t as good. The players were still upbeat but it seems like a switch has been flicked after the home defeat to Everton. They’ve won more games in the second-half of the season than they did in the first 19 which is strange.

The run has coincided with Tom Heaton coming back into the side and Joe Hart hadn’t done a great deal wrong albeit he didn’t have his greatest game against Everton. Tom has lifted the fans and they look a lot more like Burnley.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Phillip Bardsley and Thomas Heaton of Burnley celebrate following the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Fulham FC at Turf Moor on January 12, 2019 in Burnley, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
With two clean sheets in January, Tom Heaton's influence at Burnley is clear

You mention Tom Heaton there, has that been something that has really galvanised the team and had a positive effect on those that are in front of him?

It was suspected there might have been a change in goal as there had been a lot of changes in other positions previously and as soon as the team came out against West Ham the fans were singing his name and he didn’t have a great deal to do in the game, but you sensed it had an impact. I don’t know whether it’s a communication thing but James Tarkowski and Ben Mee all of a sudden looked like the players we’ve come to love.

All together they look a lot more disciplined again, more organised and a lot more difficult to beat as you’ve seen with the five games unbeaten in the league.

Which other players have been the key men that have helped the Clarets’ upturn in form?

You’d probably have to look at Dwight McNeil to be honest. He hadn’t been involved since September time and he came in against West Ham as well. He was really direct, really positive and looks after the ball so well.

He got his first goal for the club in that game and then an assist in the next game at Huddersfield too. His level of performance hasn’t really dipped. Even in the 5-0 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup he looked comfortable at that level with that quality of player up against him.

He’s the first player since Jay Rodriguez who has not only broke into the team but looked so comfortable so quickly and it’s hard to say he’s established after a handful of experiences but I think he’s well on the way.

How do you see the game going and is it being viewed as must win?

A couple of weeks ago had Burnley not beaten Huddersfield away and really picked up their form I think it would have been a must win but due to recent weeks it’s more of a must not lose.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s very much like last season at Turf Moor and it ends up as a score draw.

A cult hero in Sam Vokes left for Stoke City on Deadline Day, with Peter Crouch coming the other way. How is that move being viewed?

Sam didn’t want to be on the bench, he wanted to play more regularly and he’s not starting for Wales at the moment. It suited him and Stoke and Burnley will have thought if they can get a significant amount as well as someone else coming the other way then I think they were happy.

If you look at Crouch as an impact substitute then he’s probably more than capable of contributing five or six goals before the end of the season. He’s only here until the summer and then it’s a case of taking it from there if he does well.


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