Burnley can put pressure on their title rivals by beating Leeds on Saturday lunchtime.
Steve Evans has promised that Leeds will play with the utmost integrity when they go into bat for the Championship’s other automatic promotion contenders at Turf Moor. And though it’s difficult to envisage the Whites causing a shock of any kind, they can at least make Burnley wait for the points. Take the 18/5 available on the Draw/Burnley half-time/full-time wager.
Having established a seven-point lead at summit in mid-March, the Clarets have since slipped back towards the pack with dropped points at home to Wolves and Cardiff, raising questions about whether they can hold their nerve over the remaining six matches. It’s a valid query but one you would expect Sean Dyche’s men to address with their customary tunnel vision.
The goalless draw with Cardiff in midweek was hardly an onslaught but Burnley did enough to win the game, while the earlier setback against Wolves was down to a late sucker punch they had no time to correct. When you’re comfortable playing in the realm of fine margins, you will get caught out occasionally but these hiccups shouldn’t be taken as any slight on their mentality.
The Clarets are probably most people’s idea of the strongest of the four contenders in the psychology stakes. And, as Dyche is correct to point out, it’s easy to take issue with the pattern of when and where draws occur, but his team have shown the steeliness to remain unbeaten in 17 league matches, over which period they’ve averaged more than two points per game.
Indeed, if you put stock in the relationship between mind and body, then a fully fit squad at this stage of the campaign speaks volumes for just how much the players are relishing the challenges ahead. No fewer than nine players have racked up 32 appearances or more and such is the reliability of the reinforcements, Lloyd Dyer, signed in February, has yet to make the 18.
Going first this weekend arguably helps too. With Middlesbrough and Hull conscious of what unfolds ahead of their 3pm kick-offs, and Brighton not in action until Monday, this is an ideal opportunity for Burnley to go out and perform without any distractions and put the onus on others. Just don’t bank on them blowing the opposition away from the first whistle.
Of the 13 home wins they have registered this term, six were level at the interval versus seven where they were already ahead. That’s a pretty convincing distribution for taking the 18/5 available on the hosts taking the patient route to three points, especially when you compare it directly to the paltry 7/5 on offer about the Burnley/Burnley alternative.
Click here for more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system