Will Burnley’s ‘Route 1’ football be the death of them?

BURNLEY, ENGLAND – Matej Vydra of Burnley is challenged by Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal leading to a penalty that was overturned following a VAR review. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Sensational Odegaard free-kick helps Arsenal slide past Burnley

The defeat pushes Sean Dyche’s side into 19th place with just one point out of their opening five games. The string of poor results has me asking the question — will Burnley’s style of play ultimately see them playing football in the second division next year?

If there’s one thing we know about Burnley Football Club and their manager it’s that they are reluctant to change the way they go about their business.

The club has seemingly played the same style of football since the arrival of Dyche in 2012. Not to say that’s a bad thing — a consistent style of play usually indicates that things are going well and there’s no need to change.

The club has also been rather quiet during transfer windows. Dyche has always had a smaller pool of players to pull from.

Burnley dipped their toes in transfer market prior to start of season

However, this summer’s window was a bit different, a bit un-Burnley like. They brought in five new singings — Maxwel Cornet, Nathan Collins and Aaron Lennon were the marquee arrivals. Lennon returns to Burnley after a year in Turkey.

The player pool at Burnley does excel in playing Dyche’s style. They set up in a low block 4-4-2 formation and play a “Route 1” style that sees a high volume of balls being played over the top.

They currently rank dead last in the league in touches, passes and possession. Burnley leads the league in long balls and offsides while tallying the third most crosses in the league. All stats that back up their style of play and show their determination to make it work.

It’s one thing to know what’s coming, the league has known for a while how Burnley will set up and play their football, but it’s another thing to be able to stop it.

The long balls launched into the front men, the high volume of crosses whipped in from all angles, the very physical and, at times savage tackling — these are all Burnley FC staples.

These are the reasons why the club is so polarizing. People either despise them because they tend to rough up their opponents or they enjoy the fact that they stick to their style and play it relatively well.

One thing I can promise you is that no fan enjoys seeing Burnley next up on their team’s fixture list. You can expect a physical grind of a match whenever the Clarets take the pitch.

Burnley’s campaign has gotten off to a rocky start but that’s not for lack of effort.

They were rather unlucky to not take three points off Leeds, they were all over Everton until an epic collapse in the final 30 minutes and they fought hard enough against Arsenal to earn a draw. A late VAR decision went against them and took away a would-be game-tying penalty kick in the Arsenal match.

To answer the question I posed earlier — no, I do not think Burnley’s very direct style of play will see them relegated this season. I’m a believer in Dyche and think his men have enough  quality in them to secure enough points and remain in the Premier League once again.

It won’t be easy, especially with one point taken out of a possible 15. But their style of play wears opponents down and challenges their physicality. The Clarets have played well enough to have more than one point to so it’s only a matter of time before they pull themselves out of the basement and start climbing up the table.