Dele Alli in action during Burnley vs Spurs in the Premier League.

Burnley vs Spurs: opposition strengths and weaknesses

A trip to Turf Moor for Burnley vs Spurs is a tough task, so we break down the strengths and weaknesses of Sean Dyche’s team.

Burnley are the Premier League’s Jekyll and Hyde team. Fiendishly strong at home, but only three points garnered on their travels. Ahead of Burnley vs Spurs we look at their strengths and weaknesses.

Strength: team shape

Burnley are classic 4-4-2 low block counter attacking team. They are good at playing the system and well coached. Pressure on the ball and they squeeze up to condense the playing area. No pressure on the ball and they will drop to avoid being hit over the top.

This gives them an extremely solid base to launch their counter attacks. Up front they have the size and hold up play of Ashley Barnes. Working off him, the speedy Andre Gray can run the channels.

Without the ball, Burnley have a tough shape to break down. The Clarets try and force opponents in to the wide areas by defending narrowly and then deal with the resulting crosses. Burnley have two sizeable centre backs in Michael Keane and Ben Mee to handle any balls in to the box. The full backs will tuck in to help, leaving the wide midfielders to defend the flanks.

FBs tuck in narrow to leave LM and RM to defend flanks ahead of Burnley vs Spurs in the Premier League at Turf Moor.

LB and RB tuck in narrow to leave LM and RM to defend flanks.

Weakness: low crosses

The wide midfielders can be left with a lot to do due to Burnley’s compact shape. These players often have large areas to cover or can be left 1v2 if the full back is reluctant to be drawn out to help.

Opponents that have had success against Burnley have been able to attack the Clarets here in spite of them wanting to force teams wide to cross. However, they have often done it through low crosses rather than high balls. Low crosses force Burnley to defend with their feet, where they are less agile, rather than with their height.

Spurs were an excellent example in our 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane. Our equalising goal arrived as we were able to switch the play to shift Burnley across. Kyle Walker was 1v1 against the left midfielder as the full back was tucking in and thus there was space to attack.

Walker left 1v1 can attack the space left by the LB tucking in during Burnley vs Spurs in the Premier League.

Walker left 1v1 can attack the space left by the LB tucking in.

Walker went at Scott Arfield, which drew full back Stephen Ward out from the back four knowing that the Spurs man had the speed advantage. The Burnley centre backs can deal with high crosses, but the low fizzed ball is right in to the path of Dele Alli to score. Check out the video to see this move in more detail.


Walker’s goal came from getting in to the Burnley left back zone and this is where a number of teams have had success. Burnley’s last home match saw them draw 1-1 with Chelsea and the Blues created their chances from here.

Chelsea created chances from the left back zone ahead of Burnley vs Spurs at Turf Moor stadium in the Premier League.

Chelsea created chances from the left back zone.

Manchester City were the last team to win at Turf Moor in the Premier League. The Citizens also heavily peppered the Burnley left back zone and scored through a couple of cutbacks. Getting inside the penalty area to deliver these passes is dangerous. The attacker can attempt the cross, cutback or pull back closer to his target and it should therefore have a much higher chance of completion.

Man City created chances from the LB zone ahead of Burnley vs Spurs at Turf Moor Stadium in the Premier League.

Man City created chances from the LB zone.

Burnley have been excellent at keeping clean sheets at home. Bournemouth are one of the most recent teams to score at Turf Moor. The Cherries netted twice from getting in to wide areas and using low crosses.

Bournemouth chances created ahead of Burnley vs Spurs in the Premier League at Turf Moor Stadium.

Bournemouth chances created.

The Tottenham tactics for Burnley vs Spurs needs to see us accept Burnley’s invitation to go wide. However, rather than play high balls in to the box that they want, we need to attack them with low crosses, cut backs and pull backs. These low crosses take advantage of their centre back’s slow feet.

Weakness: counter attacks

Burnley are a counter attacking side, but they are vulnerable to swift breaks themselves. Playing a four man midfield can see Burnley exposed from their own set pieces or with men forward. Opponents take advantage with swift one-touch passing and forward movement to expose their lack of numbers.

Our second goal in the match at White Hart Lane was a perfect example. The following video shows how Burnley sent their centre backs up for a set piece and were caught in transition. Quick movement of the ball and forward running exposed the space that the four-man midfield gives up between the lines. Danny Rose sprinted up the pitch to pop up in the vacant full back zone to score.

Chelsea were the last team to play at Turf Moor and leave with any points. The Blues also scored their goal from counter attacking Burnley.

The Clarets were attacking, but turned the ball over. Burnley tried to hem Chelsea in the corner to avoid being hit themselves. Chelsea swiftly countered through neat one-touch passing and fast player movement. They too got the ball to their wingback, Victor Moses, to attack the space out wide with his speed.

Pedro’s counter attack goal is the second part of the following video. The first shows how Chelsea also sat off Burnley to invite them out and create another type of counter attacking opportunity. Burnley likes to draw opponents on to them and then go long to Barnes and Gray. Through dropping off, Chelsea drew Burnley out, pressed in midfield to recover the ball and then quickly counter attacked.

Our ability to create counter attack situations will be an important part of Burnley vs Spurs. How successful Tottenham are at fashioning them will determine whether we leave with the three points.

Strength: set pieces

Burnley are incredibly strong at dead balls. The Clarets are second only to West Brom in set piece goals in the Premier League. However, it’s not just corners where they will take advantage, as Burnley have some very good dead ball strikers. Robbie Brady and Joey Barton both can fire home a free kick when given the opportunity.

Burnley’s last three home games have seen them score their only goal through a set piece.

Robbie Brady curled a sumptuous free kick in to the top corner to earn a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Sam Vokes scored from a corner as Leicester City were defeated 1-0.  Prior to that match, Southampton were sent packing 1-0 courtesy of Joey Barton’s free kick. If Sunderland hadn’t have shown up at Turf Moor then the streak may have continued. Before the Black Cats, Middlesbrough were also defeated 1-0 from another set piece free kick.

The Tottenham tactics for Burnley vs Spurs will need to see us handle the Clarets power at dead ball situations. Bigger men in the wall at free kicks and three centre backs to deal with corners.

Burnley vs Spurs outlook

Few leave Turf Moor with any points and this will be a stern examination of how Spurs deal with a team that has a strong shape.

Tottenham will need to get the ball wide, so our wingbacks will be the key position here. The ability of Kyle Walker and Ben Davies to get in to areas whereby they can dispatch low crosses will be paramount to our success.

Burnley vs Spurs prediction: Burnley 1-2 Spurs.

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5 Responses to Burnley vs Spurs: opposition strengths and weaknesses

  1. Prem Kiran 1st April 2017 at 3:43 am #

    Tough task ahead for Spurs this time around. Well written analysis.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st April 2017 at 5:30 pm #

      Thanks Prem Kiran. Tough game, but a major hurdle overcome!

  2. Reinert 1st April 2017 at 11:50 am #

    Augh! This is it: The first match in the rest of our lives! COYS

  3. Toby4eva 1st April 2017 at 2:19 pm #

    Hi Mark.

    Another seriously good piece – and a seriously difficult assignment.

    They are tough to break down to be sure, but I think we can keep a clean sheet if we don’t give away a silly free in the danger zone.

    Let’s get one early and close up shop.

    This is a great rehearsal for away Euro games.

    And we need to learn how to win ugly rather than get the point.

    But we are light years from a few seasons ago where a point here would be celebrated.

    Horrendous result at Anfield.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st April 2017 at 5:34 pm #

      Thanks Toby4eva. Not the prettiest of games, but a win is a win! Three very valuable three points, made more important with Chelsea losing. Dier and Dembele pairing up once more turned this game in our favour, dominated the second half. COYS!