Ahead of Southampton's clash with Burnley, we got the lowdown on the Clarets from Lancashire Telegraph journalist Tyrone Marshall.
How have Burnley started the season?
“They’ve started it pretty well and probably would have taken this. There’s an element of caution there, in that five of their seven games so far have been at home. I think they needed to start relatively well, and two victories is probably the minimum they were looking for.
"It’s a lot better than the way they started two years ago, that’s for sure, and I think it’s given everyone a bit of extra belief. They were unlucky not to pick up an extra point against Arsenal before the international break – they played very well in that game, which gives real signs of hope going forward.
"They’ve switched formation the last couple of weeks as well, from 4-4-2 to a three-man midfield with one up front, which has worked quite well. They look more of a Premier League team in that formation and are much better at keeping the ball."
You mentioned the formation. What’s Burnley’s style of play like this season?
“Until the Leicester game a few weeks ago, Sean Dyche was always an avid fan of the 4-4-2, with Sam Vokes and Andre Gray up front. He’s rarely deviated from that, but the Leicester game away he sprang a surprise and played 4-2-3-1 and it’s been that shape ever since.
"Gray’s suspended at the moment, so it’s Vokes up front. I think it will be 4-2-3-1 again at the weekend, with Vokes. They spent quite a bit of money in midfield over the summer on Steven Defour and Jeff Hendrick, so it allows them to play to the strengths of the squad and get three central midfielders in the team, so it’s been quite a significant shift in terms of shape in the last couple of weeks. It’s taken them a little bit of time to get used to, but it does look to be working. In terms of possession, it’s certainly given them more options on the ball and helped them to keep the ball."
Do you feel they’re better equipped this time around to survive in the Premier League?
“I think so. Getting promoted last time around they were well ahead of schedule then and were always up against it. A lot of that squad is still here and they’ve learnt from that. They’ve also spent a lot more money since then. They spent big money on Hendrick and Defour this summer. There’s a lot more Premier League experience in there, and I think the manager himself has probably learnt from two years ago, in terms of setting up a team and what you need to compete in the Premier League, so I think they’ve definitely come on from that and they’ll see this season as a much bigger chance to survive."
Who would you pick as Burnley’s key men for this Sunday?
“Defour in midfield has been hugely influential since he arrived. You can see his technical skills are fantastic, his passing’s superb and I think he’s been involved in four of the five goals Burnley have scored this season. He really makes that midfield tick and they like to get him on the ball as much as they can.
"They’ve been pretty good defensively so far, and a lot of that has been down to Michael Keane who has been fantastic. He reads the game really well, he’s strong in the air and good on the floor too. First thing’s first, they’ll be looking to try to keep a clean sheet down there and take it from there."
What sort of a game are you expecting?
“I think Burnley will be relatively defensive and probably look to play on the counter attack with this shape. They’ll try to keep the ball as much as they can, but first thing’s first they’ll be looking to keep a clean sheet. If they do that, they’ll be confident of creating at least one good opportunity and trying to nick a goal. I think that’s how they’ll try to play it."