Burnley need to hit the January sales to strengthen the squad as defeats highlight their lack of depth - Dan Black's verdict

Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur beats the tackle of Matthew Lowton of Burnley on his way to scoring
Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur beats the tackle of Matthew Lowton of Burnley on his way to scoring

Despite previous claims to the contrary, the manner of defeats against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur has highlighted a distinct lack of depth in Sean Dyche's squad.


The Burnley boss has always maintained that the class of 2019/20 is the strongest group he's had at his disposal during his Turf Moor tenure, with adequate cover in each position, but performances during a three-game stretch of losses may prompt a rethink.

The Clarets, who have now lost six of their last eight in the Premier League, have demonstrated a disturbing vulnerability of late, which has gifted the initiative to their opposition on each occasion.

And that flaw might need some attention in January as the mid-season transfer window approaches. Burnley might have the luxury of carrying two players in each position, but those individuals waiting in the wings have to be good enough to deputise.

With injuries to key personnel coinciding with a slide in form, an inquest has been opened while incisions in certain areas of the side have been put under the microscope. It seems Dyche might be forced to shop in the post-Christmas sales.

After Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Phil Bardsley and Ashley Barnes sat out the 5-0 thumping in the capital, with Danny Drinkwater an unused substitute, the Clarets chief said: “We’re depleted at the minute.

"It does make you realise sometimes...we have a competitive squad, I do believe that, but we’re not far off playing the players we should be playing by the looks of it, because when they play, we look a stronger outfit, and when we haven’t, we’ve looked a bit off.

“That has its moment, but, on balance, I have stated it’s the strongest competitive squad we’ve had, so therefore I do expect more sometimes.

“We're not a million miles away, but we need more than that, particularly when we’re dealing with the ball, that’s the biggest thing."

It's as permeable as we've seen the Clarets under Dyche. Though reversals have come against high class opposition since the start of advent, they've shown a soft underbelly, portrayed a meek and mild nature, and failed to display any form of backbone.

Burnley are the only side in the top flight who haven't picked up a point against the recognised 'top six' so far this season.

Aside from the 2-1 loss at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates in August they haven't even come close either.

That's certainly a concern for the club who, even when beaten, they've always been competitive and put up a fight.

They contained both City and Spurs in their corresponding fixtures last term, missing out on a point against the champions by a matter of millimetres - as Sergio Aguero netted - and losing out on a share of the spoils by a matter of seconds at White Hart Lane - when Christian Erikssen converted.

"I don't think there is any lack of effort I think the stats will show we put plenty of effort in, sometimes misguided effort.

"Are you running in the right place, are you reading the game, are you anticipating, the sharpness of movement.

"But there will be no lack of effort on the stats, I can assure you of that. We covered more ground than Man City the other night, as you can imagine, because we were chasing the ball."

He added: "It is difficult that one because they started so bright. If you give them the openings we did and they have that sharp edge to them then that is when you get hurt.

"Maybe you can look at us and I am looking at it and going 'rise to that or kill the game and slow it down' and we didn't do either.

"But sometimes you have to look at the opposition and I thought they were super sharp for the first 15-20 minutes, as sharp as a team we have seen this season."

The game was gone with just eight minutes on the clock. Harry Kane rifled home from 30 yards after Matt Lowton had given the ball away cheaply and then Lucas Moura tapped in unchallenged when captain Ben Mee suffered an unfortunate ricochet.

It's a trait that has plagued Burnley's campaign to date, it's an ailment they'll have to cut out if they're to secure a fifth successive season at this level.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson was caught in possession for the Gunners' winner at the start of the term, Erik Pieters conceded a spot kick at Molineux and Mee's misplaced pass led to Liverpool's second.

Lowton and James Tarkowski were also punished for giving the ball away at home to Chelsea and the latter was at fault at Bramall Lane, conceding possession as Sheffield United struck on the stroke of half-time.

“My biggest gripe is we gave the ball away for fun in key areas, key moments - five goals from five giveaways," said Dyche, following the club's biggest league defeat in 14 months.

“Credit to them for that, but they were key giveaways, sloppiness, details we don’t normally turn it over in those moments that easily.

“They started super-fast, possibly a faction to a tough result the other night - the energy, the quality they showed in the first 25/30 minutes, that always makes it tough."

Moussa Sissoko almost added a third when his attempt from Heung-Min Son's excellent pass came back off a post while a perfectly-timed intervention from Tarkowski prevented Dele Alli from extending the advantage when one-on-one with Nick Pope.

The visitors almost gave themselves a lifeline when Robbie Brady's header from an exceptional Dwight McNeil delivery dropped down off the crossbar and Davison Sanchez blocked Chris Wood's follow up on the line.

Jay Rodriguez forced goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga in to a save when getting on the end of Pieters' cross and should have hit the target from another trademark McNeil whip after Son had made it 3-0.

“In balance, we had two key chances, at 1-0 and 2-0 down, and I’m not saying we win the game, but it gives you a foothold," Dyche said.

“If you take those chances, the feel of a game can sometimes calm down, and it gives you a foothold.

“But it wasn’t to be, and in the end they were too strong, too good and too detailed in their finishing. They were super-clinical."

A mix of the sublime and the ridiculous allowed the South Korean forward to net the 'best goal of his life'.

The 27-year-old collected the ball near the edge of his own penalty area from a Burnley set-piece and carried the ball the length of the pitch before dispatching it past Pope.

Son glided through more than half of the away side's XI, with a number of them showing far too much respect as they timidly attempted to stick a boot in.

It was an episode that pinpointed most of Burnley's frailties, a showreel that will make for unpleasant viewing for Dyche when analysed.

Kane guided a Son set-piece just wide of the mark at the end of the half before the England international thumped the ball in to the roof of the net after the break.

Jose Mourinho's men still had too much for the Clarets when taking their foot off the gas and Sissoko componded their misery in the 74th minute when swapping passes with Kane and poking the ball in to the corner.