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Burnley were one of the major surprises from last season, as they defied the odds to avoid the drop back to the second tier, having made it back to the Premier League by virtue of their EFL Championship triumph in 2015/16.
A nervy finish saw them end up in the 16th place, but the Clarets never really looked in threat of getting relegated and that level of performance deserves great plaudits. Manager Sean Dyche built a strong side that was extremely hard to beat, especially at the Turf Moor and he will be hoping for more of the same come the new season.
Last season, it was about surviving the drop, but this time around, the club will aim to break into the top half of the table.
Dyche has been fairly active in the transfer market, adding more British players to his contingent that he is building at the club. Burnley, so far, have brought in left-back Charlie Taylor from Leeds United for free, after his contract expired, and have signed seasoned campaigners Jonathan Walters and Phil Bardsley from Stoke City. In between those two transfers, the Clarets signed midfielder Jack Cork from Swansea City.
A couple of more additions could be expected in the form of another striker and a centre-back.
The most high-profile exit from the club so far has been that of defender Michael Keane, who joined Everton for a fee in the range of £25million.
Attacker George Boyd joined Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday for free, while Michael Kightly joined Southend United for free as well. Joey Barton, Paul Robinson and George Green have been released by the club.
There is uncertainty over the future of star striker Andre Gray, after contract talks hit a stalemate. The 25-year old has been monitored by several clubs in the Premier League and it remains to be seen how his situation unfolds.
The best scenario that the Burnley fans can hope for in the coming season is a finish in the higher places in the bottom half of the table. While the aim will be to challenge for ‘Top 10’, given the amount of investment and the rebuilding that several other mid-table clubs like Bournemouth, Leicester City have gone through, breaking into the top half will be unrealistic. A place somewhere between 11th and 13th would represent a good season.
The worst-case scenario is obviously the prospect of facing relegation. Having lost Keane and with Gray’s future uncertain, they could find themselves in the deep end and may eventually go back to the second division.
Their best line-up with the current squad would somewhat look like this:
Tom Heaton, Matthew Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor; Robbie Brady, Jack Cork, Jeff Hendrick, Scott Arfield; Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes.
Sam Vokes. The Welshman had a strong finish to the previous season, ending as the top scorer for the club, with 10 goals. With Gray’s situation far from ideal, Vokes will have to step up and fire on all cylinders from the start of the season.