A sumptuous Wade Elliot strike against Sheffield United in the playoff final back in May was enough to send Burnley to the dizzy heights of the Premier League. The tricky and agile winger was on hand again on Sunday afternoon to gift Burnley their second 1-0 victory of the season against Everton and cap an excellent start to the season for Owen Coyle’s men.
Burnley have brought a sense of no fear and a refreshing freedom to their play since their promotion earlier in the year, looking to play good football, create chances while also staying solid and gritty at the back. In the Championship they were formidable goal scorers weighing in with an incredible 71 goals during the season including 15 different players getting on the score sheet, showing that they can get goals from the whole of the team. However goal scoring is not the stand out focus of Burnley at this moment, it is the grit and determination of the team as a defensive unit. The signing of Andre Bikey from Reading has proved to be excellent business so far as he possesses pace, power and excellent aerial ability to combat tough physical sides such as Everton. With a tackling percentage success of 78.9% to Everton’s 70.6% it was clear that the engine room of Burnley was working super efficiently in combating the physical threat of Everton’s , Marouane Fellaini, Louis Saha and Tim Cahill.
One player who is beginning to shine as a key player for Burnley is the experienced figure of Robbie Blake. The 33 year old has already got one goal to his name this season after a wonderful strike put Manchester United to the sword on Tuesday night. Blake’s technique and ability to find holes to work space in is a vital part in Burnley’s free flowing system which allows them to create chances and attack as a team. Blake scored 9 goals last term for Burnley in their promotion campaign and most importantly of all weighed in with 15 assists. This shows the importance of Blake to their system, the way he can drop in and out of midfield and create space for himself and also his deadly delivery from set pieces will cause problems for opposing sides with Clarke Carlisle and Andre Bikey giving a physical threat from dead ball situations. A key element which seems to be working for Burnley at the moment is that lady luck seems to be shining on them. Another penalty miss from the opposing side at Turf Moor gifted Burnley the 3 points, however on the balance of the game you would have to say Burnley deserved the luck and the 3 points. One possible improvement which Owen Coyle will be looking at will be the finishing of his two strikers. The tempo of Burnley in the first 10 minutes was incredible however Martin Paterson wasted two chances to put Burnley ahead early. With 19 goals in all competitions last season, Coyle will want his star man to get off the mark for this season and eradicate the poor finishing which could cost his side valuable points in the fixtures which lay ahead.
Chelsea continued to impress with new boss Carlo Ancelotti after a comfortable 2-0 success over West London neighbours Fulham. The Chelsea squad looked as strong as ever as Michael Essien was rested and John Obi Mikel was brought in to add steel to the Chelsea midfield. Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba both got on the score sheet and the combination of raw pace and muscular strength is looking very healthy as Chelsea maintained their 100% start to the Premier League season. The much talked about “diamond” formation which Carlo Ancelotti is so familiar with appears to be working for Chelsea, with the midfield being interchangeable with in their roles and also the deadly duo up front which the Blues have been crying out for since the demise of their natural wing attack of Arjen Robben and Damien Duff in the days of Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United also returned to form with the 5-0 destroying of Wigan at the DW Stadium. Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes returned to central midfield for United and the difference was clear, with fantastic energy being shown from Fletcher who was fantastic from box to box throughout the whole game. Wayne Rooney also started to show the promise and ability he has to get the magic 20 plus goals for United scoring twice. One of which brought up his century for United. Michael Owen opened his United account, a sure confidence boost for him and Sir Alex Ferguson.