Premier League 2023-24 preview No 6: Burnley

Guardian writers’ predicted position: 16th (NB: this is not necessarily Will Unwin’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

Last season’s position: 1st (Championship)


There will, undoubtedly, be a level of momentum from defeating all-comers in the Championship on their way to 101 points but the Premier League is a very different beast. As with any club that is promoted, the focus will be on survival, regardless of how bolshie or confident a team might seem from the outside. Starting off at home against Manchester City will give them a good indication of how hard this season will be but no one will have an easy time at Turf Moor.

The summer window has been a touch frustrating for Burnley. Last season’s star man Nathan Tella has not returned from Southampton because his employers feel he could repeat his Championship antics to help the Saints get back into the Premier League. Burnley have tried and tried – and will possibly try again before the window closes – but bringing back Tella looks complicated. A deal for Borussia Dortmund’s Soumaïla Coulibaly fell apart at the last minute, too, which was not ideal.

There are plenty of positives to take from the club’s work in the market. Jordan Beyer and Michael Obafemi have completed permanent moves after being on loan. Nathan Redmond arrived to bring some much-needed Premier League experience, while a number of young players with high-potential have been snapped up. James Trafford joins from Manchester City and 22-year-old Zeki Amdouni was bought from Young Boys. The test will be to see how these players react to stepping up to playing in, arguably, the best league in the world.


The manager

Vincent Kompany, managing in the Premier League for the first time, is the polar opposite to his predecessor Sean Dyche. The former Manchester City defender transformed Burnley last season to become a dynamic and attacking side, his team running away with the Championship. Kompany now faces a more complex campaign where he will need to mix his ideals with pragmatism in what should be a tough year, regardless of the investment levels. He has already had interest from other clubs thanks to his success at Turf Moor and securing survival could be a double-edged sword for the Clarets because it will likely lead to job offers for Kompany.

Vincent Kompany during a friendly match between Genk and Burnley

Vincent Kompany has already attracted interest from other clubs. Photograph: Shutterstock

Leading the shirt sales

A year away in the Championship has done wonders for Josh Brownhill. The midfielder was an almost ever-present, mixing his aggression, workrate and skill on the ball to help set the tempo in Kompany’s upbeat side. He had two seasons in the Premier League where he proved his competence but this could be his opportunity to kick-on in the top flight under a manager who offers more freedom to players that like to attack. He is a senior player at Turf Moor and his experience of Premier League football will be required in a young team that took the Championship by storm but the likes of Brownhill know how difficult the step up is and the 27-year-old will have to set the example.

Folk hero

Purely by being at Burnley for so long, Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson has become a popular figure in Lancashire. The Iceland international was a steady performer under Dyche, often coming off the bench to provide impetus when required. For a winger, he is not the most skilful but his direct running has proven highly effective down the years. When Kompany arrived last summer, he could see the value in the 32-year-old and he became a regular in the much-changed side. His stats rarely reflect his work rate – he scored only four times in the Championship last season – but the fans love his attitude.


One to watch

After securing his big-money move from Manchester City and saving a last-minute penalty to win the European Under-21 Championship, James Trafford will get his shot at the Premier League. The Cumbrian keeper was excellent while on loan at Bolton last season, helping them to the playoffs and securing the Papa John’s Trophy. Days after being England’s hero, he turned up at Wanderers’ friendly at Curzon Ashton, to show how much he enjoyed his time there. The 20-year-old is not short of confidence and will be unfazed by stepping up to the top flight – he is likely to have a busy season between the sticks but he will embrace it.

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