August-September: Part one of the Clarets' 2016/17 success story
The Clarets’ 2016/17 campaign will go down as one of their best in recent times, as Sean Dyche’s squad successfully maintained their Premier League status.
After two previous attempts to avoid relegation from the Premier League at the first time of asking, Dyche’s class of 16/17 became the first Burnley team to secure back-to-back seasons in the top flight since 1975.
Never in the bottom three all season – bar the opening weekend – the Clarets finished 16th in the table thanks to some memorable moments along the way.
Starting today, and for the rest of the week, we take a look back at a wonderful 10 months for Dyche and his men.
The season actually started on a low note as Swansea took the points from an opening day 1-0 win at Turf Moor.
Dave Jones made his final appearance in a Burnley shirt ahead of a move to Sheffield Wednesday as the Clarets’ line-up – missing only the departed Joey Barton – resembled the side that had won the Championship title.
But they didn’t hit their stride as Michael Keane was denied a penalty appeal for a tug on his shirt in the box and Leroy Fer struck late on to give the Swans the points.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson made his debut off the bench but the Iceland international couldn’t help force an equaliser as the Welshmen completed what would be the first half of a win double.
Much of the action was happening off the pitch, though, as Sean Dyche looked to strengthen his squad ahead of the transfer deadline.
Belgium international Steven Defour arrived in a record-breaking transfer from Anderlecht and his debut came in one of the matches of the season as the Clarets bounced back to lay down a significant marker with victory over Liverpool.
The fixture was switched from Merseyside as the Reds completed ground re-development at Anfield.
But any thoughts they would make Turf Moor feel like home from home were quickly despatched as it was the Clarets who did a job on Jurgen Klopp’s heavyweights.
The possession statistics stacked up massively on Liverpool’s side – some sources putting the figure at 80 per cent in the Reds’ favour.
But the Clarets kept the visitors at arm’s length and famously made it count when they had the ball to seal a first league win over Liverpool since October, 1975.
Sam Vokes and Andre Gray both netted with classy first-half strikes to kick off their duel to become top scorer as Burnley enjoyed a red-letter day with a result that set the tone for the months ahead at Turf Moor.
However, proof that nothing would come easy arrived with the news that historic social media messages from Gray would subsequently land the striker a four-match ban.
The Clarets’ Capital One Cup campaign also failed to get off the ground thanks to a 1-0 defeat at neighbours Accrington Stanley.
And Burnley also became one of many to come unstuck at Stamford Bridge as champions-in-waiting Chelsea cruised to a 3- win.
Despite a typically defiant performance from goalkeeper Tom Heaton, the Clarets were sunk by goals from Eden Hazard, Willian and Victor Moses.
But the cavalry was on the way, as Dyche ended the month by breaking the Clarets’ transfer record for a second time to land long-time midfield target Jeff Hendrick, while Lukas Jutkiewicz signalled the end of his Turf Moor career with a loan move to Birmingham City that would become a permanent deal at the turn of the year.
Following the first international break of the campaign, the Clarets returned to action to face old Championship rivals Hull City.
Hendrick started his Burnley career on the bench after just a couple of days’ training with his new team-mates.
And it was Defour who almost stole the show.
A brilliant run and finish gave the midfielder his first goal in English football and Burnley a 1-0 lead with just 18 minutes to go.
But the Tigers had started the season well under former Claret Mike Phelan before going into freefall and ultimately heading for the drop.
And in stoppage time they grabbed a dramatic equaliser thanks to perfectly placed free-kick from Robert Snodgrass, who would feature at Turf Moor again on the final day of the season following a January move to West Ham.
A 3-0 defeat at defending champions Leicester City followed as the Clarets showed they were still trying to find their feet away from home.
But signs that Turf Moor would become a productive source of points were evident again as Watford were comfortably beaten 2-0 in front of the live television cameras as Monday Night Football came to town.
A first top-flight meeting between the two sides proved to be something of a mis-match as a superbly controlled performance from the Clarets gave them one of their most comprehensive wins of the season.
Hendrick scored his first goal for the club as he headed Burnley in front before the break.
And when Keane repeated the exercise when nodding in from another corner early in the second half it was as good as game over as Dyche’s side ended the month 13th in the league table.