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Not Half Good!

History looks kindly on the Clarets as they head for the season's half-way point

20 December 2017

Dan Woffenden, a first-year sports journalism student at UCLAN, takes a look at the stats and facts behind the Clarets' rise up the Premier League table.

The Clarets have more than built on the solid foundations laid in the Premier League last season, breaking-records along the way in claiming a place in the top six ahead of the Christmas holiday programme.

We have dipped into the past to reflect on what has been a superb first half of the 2017/18 season and put into context the achievements, so far, of Sean Dyche and his team.

After comfortably seeing off relegation from the top flight for the first time in 40 years last season, the Clarets have risen to a new challenge this time around.

And their highly productive campaign means Burnley head into the weekend’s showdown with seventh-placed Tottenham Hotspur only two points adrift of the division’s top four.

An opening-day win at Chelsea set the tone

Claiming points against the division’s elite – including Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool ­– and winning half of their games so far, have sown the seeds for even more Turf Moor evolution.

No Burnley side has ever conceded so few goals at this stage of a top-flight campaign, with 13 the previous mark from the 1947/48 season, when the Clarets ended their return to the top flight in third place, giving Arsenal and Manchester United a run for their money.

Dyche’s men, meanwhile, find themselves only three points off Burnley’s record tally at this stage of the season. The Clarets, led by Harry Potts, had the equivalent of 35 points in the 1962/63 season. Not surprisingly, the current rate of progress has not gone un-noticed.

“They’re more efficient these days. They’re all progressing nicely and they’re growing in stature,” BBC pundit Martin Keown said recently.

“They’re very good at fixing the play. They try and trap you in, they do it brilliantly. There’s extra composure in the team now.”

Ashley Barnes sent the Clarets briefly into a top-four place

The record-breaking first half of the season has come down to a squad of players, doing the job in hand and continuing to find their feet in the Premier League.

The literal high-point of the season so far came in the victory against Stoke City earlier this month, Ashley Barnes’ winner firing the Clarets up to fourth place in the table, their highest League standing since March 1975.

The Clarets go into Saturday’s tea-time game at Turf Moor unbeaten in three games and even when they have lost – on only four occasions – they have bounced back with a win each time.

With only two defeats at home so far this season – first up against West Bromwich Albion and then frustratingly late against Arsenal – the record betters by one last season’s tally at this stage, when outstanding home form and 10 Turf Moor wins were the bedrock of survival.

Arsenal and Liverpool meet on Friday night and if results go in the Clarets’ favour over the weekend they could be as high as fifth come Christmas Day.

A merry Christmas indeed.

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