Tuesday 22 November 2016

Burnley's Unsustainable Survival Technique.

Monday night's live game pitted two of the Premier League's more dour sides against each other.

WBA is the magnificent Tony Pulis' current port of call, where they are the recipients of his exclusive brand of pundit flummoxing, survival techniques.

Meanwhile, Burnley are getting by on a meagre 0.8 expected goals per game. They are conceding an average of 2.1 expected goals per game and through the grace of the probabilistic gods, actually allowing just 1.4 real goals.

That's not a Pulis approved survival approach, at least in the long term, but it has given Sean Dyche's side a few notable results.

Top of the tree of upsets was Burnley's 2-0 early season win at home to Liverpool, where Dyche tired out his opponents, not by engaging them in a presssing foot race, but by nicking an early lead and then handing them dozens of goal attempts.

All of which they missed.

The blueprint of being overwhelmed, but showcasing the England credentials of your defence, was wheeled out again at Old Trafford for the approval of Jose. And while Burnley didn't quite manage to nick a goal here, they did keep their goal intact for a welcome point.

Sandwiched in between was another expected goals beating at the hands of a top six contender where the reality better reflected the distribution of the quality and quantity of chances created in the game.

Chelsea's invite left Burnley nursing a 3-0 loss.

On the surface Burnley had made a comfortable start to their renewed acquaintance with the Premier League. "they look far better equipped for survival this time around, sitting comfortably in 9th place"  might have been something that was written about the Clarets prior to Monday's game.

But scratch beneath the media soundbites and Burnley's well being is supported by a large helping of unsustainable variance.

Hats off to the 14 Burnley players who withstood the battering from an 11 and then ten man Manchester United in late October, but simulate the exercise 1,000's of times and a United win is by far the most likely outcome of the three possible results.

Simulate all 120 matches, along with the multitude of possible tables, 1,000's of times and Burnley's most likely current position is.....bottom. Rather than the more comfortable 9th they occupied prior to match week 12.

Of course, points already won are kept, no matter how ill gotten or deserving and should Burnley continue their idiosyncratic survival process, coupled with their recent showing in the Championship, they probably won't finish in their current expected position of bottom in May.

They'll most probably finish 19th.

If you want to check out all of Burnley's shot maps, along with all Premier League games for the last three seasons, download the free Infogol app 

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