Burnley have had a disappointing start to the season, as Sean Dyche’s men have failed to win a single game in the Premier League. The Clarets have three points from seven games, and all three points have from games that they have drawn. Burnley’s poor start to the new Premier League season continued in their goalless draw against Norwich City, a result which dented either side’s immediate hopes of climbing up the Premier League table.
In their recent game against Norwich, Burnley were not in the position to complain at the final whistle as they lacked both quality and goals. Burnley have been in this situation before as they had to wait till the eighth game for their first win last season and yet they survived relegation by 11 points. In the recent post-match interview Dyche stated that although his side are finding it hard to score goals, they are getting into key areas. One of the players that has been able to get into good positions in the game is Dwight McNeil. Although McNeil has not been involved in any of the goals five goals that Burnley have scored so far, he has been a vital part of their squad and not noticed by many given Burnley’s team form. Most of Burnley’s attacks have come through the attacking actions that McNeil has attempted, so let’s look at the stats.
McNeil has been starting on the left flank for the Clarets from the start of the season. As Burnley are more of a defensive team, we can see that he has also been present in his own half. The heatmap indicates that at times, the winger has switched to the right-wing to create more space to cut inside and take a shot. But his preferred side is the left flank, as being a left-footed player it is easier for him to cross the ball.
McNeil is yet to score a goal for the Clarets this season, but he has taken his share of attempts on the goal. We can see that most of his shots are from positions outside the penalty area, which indicates he does not move forward into the penalty area and plays more outside the 18 yard box. He has not been that effective with his attempts, but helps keep pressure on the opposition defence.
McNeil has been able to create a threat on the opposition defence with this dribbles that he attempts on the left flank. McNeil has a strong physique and this helps in guard the ball from the opposition defenders when he is dribbling. As seen in the heatmaps, McNeil is able to get into great positions on the wider areas as he dribbles past the defenders to put in crosses with his left foot.
McNeil has attempted the most number of crosses in the whole league and has attempted an average of 5.74 crosses per 90 minutes. Burnley have always relied on the aerial prowess of their players and try to put in as many crosses as possible to pressurise the opposition defenders. Dwight McNeil has been their supplier for most matches, but their strikers have not been able to steer in the crosses attempted by the young English winger.
As stated in the above visual, that McNeil has attempted the most number of crosses in the league, we can see from his pass map that most of these crosses are from the left flank. McNeil has also attempted a few crosses from the right flank, and those crosses had the highest expected threat. McNeil has also been heavily involved in keeping possession of the ball as he has made a lot of passes in his own half towards his defence.
McNeil has not been able to contribute to the goals scored by his team so far, but the workrate he has put into matches has been impressive. He has the potential to break the opposition’s defence with his crosses as well as dribbles he attempts, but only has to work harder while providing the final ball. Sean Dyche will be looking to use McNeil to his full potential as better performances from him will help them get better results.