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Statistically speaking, Burnley has best Premier League defence

Wednesday 27th September 2017
Early on, one team is leading the Prem defensively. It's not United, Spurs, or Chelsea. Sean Dyche has prepared Burnley's back line superbly, this summer.

The Premier League is well known for goals. No wonder when Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, and too many others to mention (sorry, Harry Kane) have graced the league for numerous years. However, goals don't always win games. Teams that lack a serious goalscoring threat must turn to their defence for results.

Burnley have conceded five goals in their opening six league games. While it's hardly the least amount conceded, it certainly isn't bad going. Looking deeper, there are numbers suggesting the Ginger Mourinho and his Clarets have performed better defensively than any other top-flight English club in this 2017/2018 season.


Burnley top the table in terms of blocked shots. They do so by a rather large margin, with 16 more than nearest club, Leicester City. Clearly, getting a body between a shot and the goal is essential to conceding less, and therefore dropping less points, collecting more, and putting distance between one's club and relegation.
Three Burnley men, Ben Mee (15), James Tarkowski (12), and Jack Cork (10), feature in the Premier League's top four for individual blocks. While this may not be the most direct approach to limiting goals--Pep Guardiola would argue if the other team doesn't have the ball, it can't score--it can still be pretty helpful. The trio's agents are probably fielding endorsement offers from Deep Blue and Tiger Balm as you read.


This attribute is often overlooked. A simple clearance can result in many things, the most obvious being not conceding. However, it can also allow a defensive back-line to step up, putting more pressure on the opponents, making it harder for them to penetrate the final third. Good clearances also start counterattacks. Beating the attacking player to the ball and 'getting rid' is crucial to keeping a clean sheet. It's a role that requires a lot of guts.
Burnley also lead this category by a significant margin. James Tarkowski tops all EPL players in clearances, making an astonishing 62 in his opening six games. Defensive partner, Ben Mee also makes the top five, with 46.

Headed Clearances

At this point, would it surprise you if I said Burnley were head and shoulders above the rest in headed clearances, too? For a defensive unit, an aerial presence is key to 'getting in the opponent's heads' as they continue to deny them in front of goal.

Brighton's Shane Duffy leads the way in this category for individuals, with 47. James Tarkowski (44) and Ben Mee (34) are second and fourth respectively.
It's important to note that, while the Clarets dominate these three key defensive categories, no other club holds second place in more than one. That suggests Sean Dyche has drilled his side extremely well. Burnley's physicality may pay dividends come season's end, with the Lancashire club aiming for more than a relegation battle this term.
Jack Drury
19 years of age. Sport and Exercise Science Student at Loughborough University. Peterborough United.

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