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Exploring the grades and data behind Burnley's transformation under Vincent Kompany

The Championship returns this weekend and it is Burnley who kick things off on Friday evening when the runaway leaders in the Championship host Sunderland.

In his first season in charge, manager Vincent Kompany has overseen a comprehensive transformation from the side we were used to seeing in the Premier League, in a marked departure from predecessor Sean Dyche.

The previous play style under Dyche was extremely successful in his near 10 years in charge of the Clarets, but it is at odds with Kompany’s Guardiola-inspired possession-based approach.

While Burnley’s 6-0 hammering at the hands of Kompany’s former manager in the FA Cup might have tempered expectations, they will almost certainly face Man City again next season as they now only need two more wins to clinch promotion at the first attempt.

Burnley will face a lot of squad turnover in the summer between their assortment of loan players and needing to strengthen the squad for their Premier League survival bid. However, it is still worth taking a deeper look at the players leading them back to the top flight using PFF’s grades and metrics.

Player name Position Passing grade (rank) Ball Carry Grade

Line-breaking passes completed p-90

Josh Cullen

CM 91.0 (3rd) 83.9 (5th) 4.8 (17th)
Jack Cork CM 81.6 (13th) 78.6 (10th)

2.8 (61st)

Jordan Beyer

CB 71.7 (9th) 88.5 (1st) 3.8 (22nd)
Taylor Harwood-Bellis CB 64.9 (31st) 77.9 (8th)

8.2 (1st)

We have previously explored the Championship's best passers and it was no surprise to see several Burnley players featured. Centre-backs and midfielders who are strong on the ball are important components of any possession based approach and it appears this holds true for Kompany’s team as well.

Young centre-backs Jordan Beyer (22) and Taylor Harwood-Bellis (21) have been extremely impressive, and challenge grades of 79.6 (47th) and 79.7 (46th) respectively suggests they don’t necessarily sacrifice defensive ability for on the ball skill.

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany
2MY1MBJ Burnley manager Vincent Kompany applauds the fans after victory in the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich. Picture date: Saturday February 4, 2023.

However, both Beyer (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Harwood-Bellis (Man City) are loan signings, causing a potential headache for Kompany if he needs to replace them next season. Although, it has been reported that Burnley do hold an option to buy clause as part of the terms of the loan deal for Beyer.

Josh Cullen’s 91.0 pass grade leads the team, and Burnley will likely require the Irish international to replicate his form next season.

Player name

Minutes played Crossing grade Shooting grade

Chances created

Nathan Tella

2,328 88.4 (3rd) 91.6 (3rd) 29 (21st)
Josh Brownhill 3,202 78.3 (8th) 76.5 (15th)

63 (5th)

Anass Zaroury

1,998 75.0 (10th) 58.1 (87th) 31 (16th)
Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson 1,601 71.5 (23rd) 80.9 (7th)

38 (14th)

Burnley’s strength in attacking areas is a key factor in their success. Nathan Tella (on loan from Southampton) has undoubtedly been Burnley’s star man this season. With relegation looming for the Saints, Burnley may fancy their chances of holding on to the attacking option who has scored the third most Championship goals (17) of any player so far this season.

Josh Brownhill has operated centrally and out wide in Kompany’s system, and seems to have the tools for both, also boasting a 80.8 pass grade. His 63 chances created leads the team and is 10th among all players.

Player name

Minutes Played Shooting grade Goals

True shot on target %

Michael Obafemi

1,428 75.3 (25th) 5 (31st) 56% (47th)
Jay Rodríguez 1,821 75.3 (26th) 9 (14th)

60% (36th)

Ashley Barnes

1,544 73.0 (37th) 4 (41st)

38% (65th)

One area for potential improvement is up front, with Burnley being quite dependent on Nathan Tella’s shooting prowess. Their forward trio has been solid if unspectacular, but concerns will remain about their ability to produce goals in the top flight.

Burnley have the option to make winter loan signing Michael Obafemi permanent, and will likely need to, seeing as Jay Rodríguez will have turned 34 by the time next season started and Ashley Barnes' contract expires at the end of June.

Overall, Burnley have been by far the best team in the Championship this season, and our metrics reflect that, but Vincent Kompany will need to fight to retain key players and also continue to improve the side if they are to flourish on their return to the Premier League.

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