March could be key for Burnley
BURNLEY’S march to the Premier League could be defined by the month of March.
Seven games in the space of 29 days will give the Clarets a better idea, come April, of how they will be involved in the promotion shake-up.
With a 14-point swing from Burnley, in second, to Wigan Athletic, in seventh, it is almost inconceivable that Sean Dyche’s side will not finish in the top six.
It is not impossible. But it would be an almighty collapse for a team that have only lost three league games all season to drop enough points between now and the end of the campaign to rule them out of at least the play-off picture.
As things stand, with 14 games to go, they are among an apparent four-horse race for second spot.
And they kick-off this action-packed period with a showdown with their nearest rivals, Derby County.
Home form has been a huge factor in Burnley’s success story to date.
They are closing in on 12 months unbeaten in the league at Turf Moor, and Saturday’s visit of the Rams is earmarked as one they must not lose.
In terms of the outlook at the top of the table it is a bigger, more significant fixture than the following weekend’s derby, until that tussle comes around of course.
The chance to put an end to 35 years without a win over their nearest rivals could not come at a more important time.
A trip to Birmingham City follows in midweek. The Blues have the second worst home record, but Burnley have not won at St Andrew’s on their last four visits so will not take form for granted.
Tough tests will be provided by Leeds United, at home, and away to Charlton Athletic, especially considering the depreciating quality of The Valley pitch.
Burnley round the month off with back-to-back home games.
Doncaster Rovers do not travel well, but Dyche will insist on taking nothing for granted as they bid to bookend March with momentum, and a televised home game with leaders Leicester City.