Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Storming The Bridge

The road to Europe: Season review part I

22 May 2018

What a season that was. Seventh place in the Premier League gave the Clarets their highest league finish since 1974, with Europa League qualification taking Burnley into European competition for only the third time in their history and the first for 51 years. Over the next few days, we recount how the glorious journey unfolded.

August-October

It all started on a red-hot summer’s day in London as the Clarets went to Chelsea and beat the Premier League champions.

Antonio Conte’s side paraded the league trophy before kick-off as the Blues doubtless expected to continue an unbeaten run on the opening day of the campaign stretching back to 1998.

What hit them was almost unbelievable as the Clarets roared into a 3-0 half-time lead to stun everyone inside Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were down to 10 men after just 14 minutes after ex-Turf Moor loanee Gary Cahill was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Steven Defour.

And Sean Dyche’s men went for the kill in spectacular style as they immediately buried the memories of the 2016/17 struggles on the road.

It had taken until the penultimate away game of the season to record a victory on the road but three goals in a 20-minute blitz made sure there would be no waiting this time around.

Sam Vokes hooked in the first to become the first Burnley player to score in four successive Premier League games before Stephen Ward celebrated signing a new contract with a stunning volley into the roof of the net.

Vokes then planted a header past Thibaut Courtois to leave Chelsea shell-shocked and with too much to do in a second-half fightback which bought goals for substitute Alvaro Morata, on his debut, and David Luiz and a red card for Cesc Fabregas.

It was nail-biting stuff by the end, but the Clarets were up-and-running.

Back down to earth with a bump, the opening home game brought a 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion.

The Baggies extended their unbeaten Premier League record at Turf Moor thanks to a second-half winner from substitute Hal Robson-Kanu, who was then sent off for a late challenge on Matt Lowton.

It had been a great start for Tony Pulis’ side but after back-to-back wins they wouldn’t taste victory again in the Premier League until mid-January, long after the departure of Pulis and on the way to relegation.

The Clarets’ daunting looking fixture list then sent them to Wembley to face Tottenham – having just knocked Blackburn Rovers out of the Carabao Cup at Ewood Park – and again they produced a capital performance to earn a 1-1 draw.

Dele Alli’s second-half opener threatened to end Spurs’ poor run in their new temporary home, but on another scorcher it was Dyche’s side which finished the stronger.

And just a week after his record signing from Leeds United, striker Chris Wood made the perfect introduction when he came off the bench to produce a clinical finish in the last minute and register the first of 11 goals for the season for the New Zealand international.

Following the first international break of the campaign, the Clarets opened their home win account with a slightly fortuitous 1-0 win over Crystal Palace thanks to another well-taken goal from Wood.

The Eagles left Turf Moor still without a goal or a point and Frank de Boer heading out of a job, while Burnley effectively announced a major ‘new’ arrival.

Tom Heaton’s bad luck in sustaining a dislocated shoulder opened the door for Nick Pope to make his Premier Legaue debut and the goalkeeper never looked back. Twelve clean sheets later and he’s off to the World Cup.

It was then off to Anfield and another red-letter day away from home as the Clarets secured a first point at Liverpool since an Ian Brennan-inspired win in 1974.

This time, Scott Arfield was the goal-scoring hero as he coolly slotted home to put a dampener on Liverpool’s 125th-birthday celebrations.

The Reds did hit back to equalise, Mo Salah giving a further taste of things to come as he steered in the fifth goal of a season that would go onto deliver 44 goals and the Player of the Year title.

But Burnley had given further notice that they would compete with the best as they retained the seventh place that would be theirs for most of the season.

Proof that nothing would come easy, however, followed with a 0-0 draw at home to Huddersfield Town next up in a first top-flight meeting between the clubs since 1971, before the Clarets kicked off October with victory at Everton.

The first leg of what would turn out to be a vital a double over the Toffees in the race for Europe was sealed by one of the goals of the season as Jeff Hendrick provided the finishing touch to a magnificent 24-pass move.

The 100th win of Dyche’s managerial career also brought Burnley’s first win at Goodison Park since 1976 as the records continued to tumble.

Back Turf Moor there was another important goal from Wood as he headed in late on to extend the Clarets’ unbeaten run to six games with a 1-1 draw against West ham.

The Hammers had played much of the game with 10 men following the dismissal of Andy Carroll but had their slice of luck when Burnley were denied a seemingly clear-cut penalty when Joe Hart brought down Wood.

It was to be a recurring theme as the Clarets became the only side in the league to go through the season without being awarded a spot-kick.

Five penalties were given against Dyche’s side, including one at Manchester City.

The would-be champions didn’t need much of a helping hand but were set on their way to a 3-0 win over Burnley and a club record-equalling 11th successive win when Pope was judged to have fouled a free-falling Bernardo Silva.

Sergio Aguero equalled City’s goal-scoring record by converting it and further goals from Nicolas Otamendi and Peroy Sane late on finally killed off the Clarets’ resistance as their unbeaten away record was ended.

But not for the last time in a remarkable first half of the season Burnley bounced back, ending the month and marking the fifth anniversary of Dyche as manager in fitting fashion with a 1-0 home win over Newcastle United.

Hendrick was again the match-winner, calmly converting a Johann Berg Gudmundsson cross at the far post to kick off a run of three straight wins as Dyche reached the landmark having taken the Clarets from 14th-place in the Championship to the top seven of the Premier League via two promotions and a Championship title.


Advertisement block