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Season Review: Champions (Part Three)

18 May 2016

December began with a jolt to the system, as Preston North End delivered a perfect away performance to take all three points at Turf Moor, thanks to goals from Daniel Johnson and Will Keane.

But after a 0-0 draw against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, it meant the Clarets had suffered just one defeat on the road in 18 months.

That sensational run came to a halt at promotion-chasing Middlesbrough who secured a 1-0 win thanks to Emilio Nsue’s strike.

If that was disappointing though, the response was emphatic as Burnley despatched Charlton in a Christmas cracker.

Scott Arfield was at the double in 100th appearance for the club, and prolific duo Andre Gray and Sam Vokes both notched as their burgeoning partnership showed no signs of relenting.

The final bump on the road to glory was a 3-0 defeat to Hull City when Steve Bruce’s men showed the clinical touch in front of goal.

It was to prove a catalyst. The only taste of defeat to come was to Arsenal in the Emirates FA Cup.

Bristol City were next up at Turf Moor and Andre Gray grabbed his first ever Football League hat-trick as 2015 ended with a 4-0 romp.

January began with the visit of Ipswich Town, who were still holding aspirations of reaching the end of season Play-Offs under the management of Mick McCarthy.

The Clarets were frustrated in a stalemate despite Ben Mee coming close with a header mysteriously disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper.

But there were seven days to savour soon after, as goals from Rouwen Hennings and Stephen Ward inflicted revenge over Middlesbrough at the Riverside in the FA Cup.

Confidence was coursing through the ranks and it showed just three days later when the Clarets hit five past MK Dons without reply.

Then, on a Friday night under the lights at Brentford, Burnley stung the Bees with a scintillating first-half display.

Scott Arfield’s beautiful curling strike lit the blue touch paper for the 3-1 victory, with goals of equal quality from Joey Barton and George Boyd before the interval.

And sensational form continued in the demolition of Derby, making it five wins in six games for Dyche’s men.

Despite exiting the FA Cup with heads held high at Arsenal, despite another memorable moment for the travelling fans following a goal from Sam Vokes, fresh from signing a new long term deal, optimism was understandably high.

Momentum for something memorable had started building…

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