English Premier League 2014-2015 Season Preview: Burnley
Burnley enters the 2014-2015 season as the smallest club in the Premier League, and it shows in the strength of its squad. Whereas most promoted sides use their prize payment to strengthen their squads ahead of a demanding schedule, Burnley has improved on the cheap. Three of the club’s five major offseason acquisitions came on free transfers.
It could be that the club simply doesn’t think change is needed. Burnley made its way into the Premier League based on a record-breaking season for the club that resulted in second place and automatic promotion. Burnley posted the Championship’s stingiest defensive record and got off to the best start in the club’s in the process.
It could also be that the club has learned its lesson. Burnley last appeared in the English top flight five years ago, before which it embarked on a veritable shopping spree. That season, the club was relegated back to the Championship.
One thing is for sure, if Burnley is to survive, it'll need to hope that the defense continues to hold teams at bay at a higher level. If anyone can help raise the level of defenders, though, it’s manager Sean Dyche. In a stint at Watford toward the end of his playing career, Dyche was paired in central defense with a young, unknown American named Jay DeMerit.
KEY ARRIVALS: G Matt Gilks (from Blackpool), F Marvin Sordell (from Bolton Wanderers), M Matthew Taylor (from Burnley), D Steven Reid (from West Bromwich Albion), F Lukas Jutkiewicz (from Middlesbrough)
KEY DEPARTURES: None
PLAYER TO WATCH: Burnley may end up being reliant on its defenders, but it'll need goals too if it plans to beat the drop. Danny Ings scored 26 times in all competitions last season -- can he come anywhere close to that at a higher level?
KEY STAT: Though it represents the Premier League’s smallest town, Burnley Football Club is one of the league’s oldest clubs, having existed for 132 years since 1883.
STADIUM: Turf Moor (Built in 1883; Capacity 21,940)
Four stands surround Turf Moor, providing enough seating for roughly one of every four Burnley residents. Turf Moor was once known for providing lighting for 1890-era night games with 16 creosote-fueled lamps.