Burnley sent out a stark warning to their promotion rivals with an emphatic 5-0 win away at MK Dons in midweek but it wasn’t a result that told us anything new. When it comes to dispatching mediocrity, the Clarets are unrivalled. Combining their 2013/14 promotion season with this, their record against bottom-half opposition reads W27 D9 L2, which is 90 points over 38 matches.
It’s a formidable show of managerial strength from Sean Dyche, who keeps a firm grip on his players’ mindset, never allowing any form of sloppiness to creep in. The original ‘Ginger Mourinho’ deals with Championship also-rans just as ruthlessly as the actual Mourinho did in his pomp at Premier League level, and ritually opposing the Lancashire outfit against inferior opposition is a fast track to the poor house.
However, while 11th-placed Brentford barely qualify as play-off contenders sitting eight points adrift, they’re not exactly makeweights either. The Bees were worthy top-six finishers last term and are matching those standards again since calling time on the disastrous Marinus Dijkhuizen experiment. Over the past 16 matches, the Londoners have averaged 1.75 points per game, a slight improvement on last season’s overall average of 1.70.
And in terms of performance data, Dean Smith’s men actually boast better figures than Burnley over the same 16-match timescale, their 53 per cent shot ratio eclipsing the Clarets’ very modest 51 per cent. So based on events since the October international break, my ratings actually make the home win shorter than the 7/5 on offer, although the wider 24-match sample agrees with the market completely.
As such, it’s hard to make a clear case for either side because Brentford’s pattern of results when analysed by quality of opposition are similar. The Bees averaged 2.21 against bottom-half opposition last term, compared with just 1.14 points against top-half, and the returns are even more extreme this time around at 2.33 points and 0.57 points respectively.
In short, neither side can really be trusted to find the necessary cutting edge in each other’s company, making the draw a fairly solid call at standard odds of 12/5. Burnley drew nine of their 23 away matches two seasons ago and they are on course to beat that total this time around with six from 13 so far. Combining the two records implies odds of shorter than 6/4.
It should also be remembered that this is the third away trip in the space of six days for the Clarets, on the back of trips to Middlesbrough and Milton Keynes. That shouldn’t be a cause for alarm because Dyche has prepared his squad to cope with such demands and prides himself on it, but it does throw extra weight behind the lack-of-creativity angle on their part.
For more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system, follow this link.