After finishing in second place in the Championship last season, Burnley won promotion to the Premier League for only the second time since the format began in 1992. The smallest town in the Premier League boasts a club with a big heart, and fantasy players at low prices. Burnley can provide you with value players rather than elite ones but a mixture of both can be a winning formula.
Between the sticks stands Tom Heaton, a local boy who started his career at Manchester United. Following spells at Cardiff and Barnsley, Heaton has cemented his place as Burnley’s number one goalkeeper after an excellent first season at the club. Heaton will be facing plenty of shots, and is a more than competent stopper, but the likelihood of clean sheets is low, especially when Burnley are playing away from home. I wouldn’t recommend having Heaton as your primary GK option. Backing him up is Matt Gilks, who played in the Premier League a few years ago with Blackpool.
Burnley’s back line is commanded by their captain Jason Shackell, who is entering his third year with the club after signing from Derby County. Shackell possesses the pace and leadership to be a Premier League defender without a doubt, but as with Heaton, don’t expect too many clean sheets from him and the Burnley back line, which is complemented at centre back by veteran Michael Duff. Burnley are chasing another central defender to start alongside Shackell but as of yet none are worthwhile starters.
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At full back, Kieran Trippier is potentially one of the bargains of the season. Former Manchester City youth player, Trippier was linked with Arsenal this summer before signing a new deal with the Clarets. His pace and power going forward will eventually land him a spot in the England opinion and he works so hard for the team. Trippier will get eight-plus assists this season which, considering his value, is a great return.
Left back Ben Mee, also a former City player, is more cautious going forward but is a better option than Shackell or Duff. Burnley captured Matty Taylor from West Ham and Steven Reid from West Brom. Both can be played at full back or on the wing, though Reid is a constant injury concern. Taylor is not guaranteed a start from the beginning of the season but may become valuable if he can force his way into manager Sean Dyche’s plans.
In midfield, Burnley have a lot of grafters. That is, players who work hard, cover every blade of grass, and put in plenty of tackles for their team. Central Midfield pairing Dean Marney and David Jones are these players. They may not have an 80% pass completion rating, or set up dozens of goals but they keep possession and break up attacking opportunities for the opposition. I wouldn’t think either become a serious factor in fantasy this season. Burnley are yet to sign a central midfielder to complement these two, but if they do I would expect him to be a goalscoring midfielder that might offer more value than Marney or Jones.
On the wings, Burnley have my favorite player, Scott Arfield. He was signed by Burnley last season from Huddersfield Town, a seemingly inferior team. Burnley fans generally felt if he couldn’t get in the Huddersfield team how on earth could he get in our squad? Arfield quickly became one of the best midfielders at the club, and whilst he lacks top end pace, he is technically gifted and can cross a ball effectively. Arfield was Burnley’s top scoring midfielder last season with nine goals across all competitions – some mark for a right midfielder. Arfield has good value this year and could chip in 10 combined goals and assists over the season.
On the left wing is Michael Kightly, a loanee turned permanent signing over the summer. Kightly ended the season with 3 goals in the final 5 games. I prefer Arfield over Kightly at their current value, but both could offer late round appeal.
Up front Burnley have one of the hottest properties of English football in Danny Ings. Ings turns 22 on the 23rd of July, and scored 26 goals last season in the Championship. Ings also won the Championship Player of the Season and got his first few caps for England at the under-21 level, scoring twice in four games. Ings offers a lot of value and is extremely comfortable on the ball. In the Premier League, where players get a little more time on the ball, he should be able to shine. A 15 goal season wouldn’t surprise me for Ings, who will be starting every game for Burnley.
Aside from Ings, Burnley have signed Marvin Sordell and Lukas Jutkiewicz to go alongside Ashley Barnes. Sordell offers the most value of these four in my opinion.
Finally, Danny Ings’ striker partner last season, Sam Vokes, is still recovering from injury and will be sidelined till around December. However, be sure to watch your waiver wire around that time, as he scored 20 goals in 39 games last season.
Kieran Trippier: Trippier is a modern style of wing back, who is equally adept at getting forward and scoring goals as he is at positioning himself at the back and preventing them. He has an incredible engine and seems to be able to sprint for 90 minutes. He has the technique of a winger and pace to match it. Add to this he delivery, and you have a fine football player. I couldn’t suggest you picked up Burnley defenders for their clean sheets, but ‘Tripps’ will pitch in with assists that can give you a nice boost offensivley. Clean sheets will be a bonus rather than a target. I can see Trippier going undrafted in many leagues, but this would be madness.
Danny Ings: The wonder kid from Southampton exploded onto the scene last season with a bagful of goals. He managed 26 in all competitions, despite a slow end to the year (2 goals in his last 12 games). His technical ability and ingenuity on the ball means he will get assists as well as goals. I can see Ings being an England International within 18 months, so don’t wait for someone else to draft him. Ings is a good value pick who could surprise I few. I’s expect 10-15 goals and four to eight assists from the soon-to-be 22- year old.
Key New Signing
Hasn’t Arrived Yet: Burnley have made the joint most signings in the Premier League with six, but I couldn’t say there is one player who stands out as a big signing. Burnley have spread £2m across several positions in an effort to bring in Premier League experience and pad out a squad which was very thin last year. The signings made are either experienced older players (like Matty Taylor), or younger players with little Premier League experience like Marvin Sordell. I believe Burnley are waiting for their marquee signing, which could be Craig Dawson, a centre back from West Bromwhich Albion. As of yet, though, Burnley have made intelligent signings without flashing the big bucks.
Under Rated Players
Scott Arfield: Unheralded doesn’t quite cut it for Scott, who came to Burnley last year with zero expectations. He blew those out of the water and is now a fan favorite and the most creative midfielder at the club. Arfield has a knack of getting in goalscoring positions that is rare in a wide player, but he contributes with assists regularly, too. If Burnley’s strikers have their shooting boots on, Arfield can get up to 10 assists this year for the club, as well as four or five goals himself. Likely an undrafted player, watch out for him as the season begins to see if he makes as bright a start as Clarets fans hope, and expect.
Kevin Long: After a few loan spells, Long finally got a handful of first team appearances last season and should Burnley fail to sign a centre back to partner Shackell, Long may be the answer as Michael Duff lacks pace to cope with athletic Premier League strikers. Long is a really long shot to do anything this season, but if he starts for Burnley in their opener v Chelsea you can have a look at him and see if he passes the eye test.
Cameron Howieson: A full New Zealand International, the 19 year old has not made a mark on Burnley’s first team squad as of yet. He is a forward thinking central midfielder with an eye for goal and is certainly one to watch out for. If he doesn’t go out on loan this season we may see him in action for Burnley at some point, especially if injuries take their toll.