After a stunning Sofiane Boufal solo goal against West Bromwich Albion, Southampton had a fantastic opportunity to build some momentum with a win over Brighton & Hove Albion. But after approaching the game in our usual cautious and defensive manner, Mauricio Pellegrino’s side were predictably held to a draw and failed to entertain the travelling crowd.
Over the past 12 months Southampton have shown a clear weakness in being able to break down organised and resilient teams that are willing to sit deep and wait for us to make the mistake. Southampton’s opponents tomorrow are a team that have proven themselves to be a master of such tactics, but to find out more about Sean Dyche’s Burnley, we spoke to Up The Clarets.
How would you summarise your season so far?
It’s certainly been far better than we might have expected or dared hope, particularly away from home. Last season we stayed up because of our fantastic home form and the April win at Crystal Palace was the only time we took three points on the road.
When the fixtures gave us Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City in the first five away games it looked as though we would have to gone one better than last season at home but wins at Chelsea and Everton along with draws at Spurs and Liverpool have been beyond our wildest dreams to be honest.
We are one of the small clubs in the Premier League, so to be seventh after ten games, over a quarter of the season, is way better than we might have even dared hope. It really has been a fantastic start.
What would make for a successful season?
Every time we’ve been in the Premier League our target has been to stay in it. The first twice we failed; last season we succeeded and, to be honest, that has to be the target this season.
In some ways it might be disappointing to finish 17th now after the start we’ve made, but I’m sure most Burnley fans would take being in the Premier League next season and continuing to build the club.
Having said that, it wouldn’t be bad to continue as we are an qualify for Europe for the first time in over 50 years.
Which player has surprised you most by stepping up this season?
I was concerned when we sold Michael Keane to Everton and didn’t bring in a replacement. It meant we would be kicking off with an inexperienced central defender in James Tarkowski who had only got his first Premier League start in April. But he’s been sensational and has turned in some simply outstanding performances.
Just how much do Clarets fans adore Sean Dyche?
Sean Dyche, five years our manager, the subject of so much speculation regarding his future, but Burnley fans would love him to stay another five years.
We’ve got a manager who told us how things were and what he wanted to do on the day he walked in. It wasn’t all plain sailing, certainly in the first few months, but he’s never wavered from his promises and has taken our football club way beyond where we thought it was capable of going.
Last Monday, on the occasion of his 5th anniversary, he received a wonderful ovation from the Turf Moor crowd before the game and another at the end. I can’t imagine there is a Burnley fan who doesn’t realise just how important he is to us.
How do teams get the most joy out of your defence?
Only one team has got much joy out of us this season and that was Manchester City. Even they struggled, holding just a 1-0 lead from a shocking penalty decision until we’d gone into the last twenty minutes.
Dyche has us well drilled, well organised and we are a very difficult team to break down.
You’re stranded on a desert island and can only be joined by one Clarets player; who’s it going to be?
This is a difficult one to answer given I don’t know the players other than watching them play football. Maybe Ashley Barnes who I’m told is one of the jokers in the pack or maybe Ben Mee who is a Burnley type player through and through.
What a shame Joey Barton is no long with us though, he’d be brilliant company if I could get him off social media.
Which Southampton player would you take to join your side?
I don’t have to even think about this one, it’s Charlie Austin because he scores goals. When we signed him from Swindon I wondered if he would be able to score goals at Championship level. By the time he’d gone that question was well and truly answered.
He’s since gone on to score regularly at Premier League level too and I’m sure, given the chance, he’d have been an international goalscorer.
As an outsider looking in, which Burnley player would help to improve Pellegrino’s Saints most?
One of our goalkeepers I’d imagine given some recent performances I’ve seen from Fraser Forster. I hope he has another difficult day on Saturday.
And finally, what do you think the score will be this Saturday?
This is the question I don’t particularly like answering. I’m certainly not going to suggest a Southampton win so I’ll go for Burnley to win it 1-0.