Premier League

Attacking Ward Can Help Make Dyche Proud Again

 • by Thomas McIlroy
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Burnley were flying high back in December when manager Sean Dyche declared himself ‘the proudest man in Proudsville’.

The Clarets were in fourth after a 1-0 win over Stoke City and their ecstatic boss said: “I’m very proud, I’m super proud, I’m the proudest man in Proudsville.

“I’m proud of a lot of things, it’s not just the league position. We’ve worked hard to create a lot of new records from when I first got here to where we are now but they’re markers in time, they’re not markers about all the stuff you don’t see.

“Football is about realities but also about dreams.”

Since then, it’s all gone wrong for Burnley. They may still be sitting in seventh and clear of the relegation zone but they have failed to record a win since that Stoke victory, taking just five points from a possible 30.

Charlie Taylor replaced Stephen Ward in the first half of that game, with the Irish international not featuring since due to injury.

He was back in the squad last time out against Swansea City and is expected to be in contention for a start against Southampton in the Clarets’ next Premier League game.

But who should Dyche start with at left-back? We’ve had a look at the statistics.

There’s no doubt that Ward is better going forward, with a higher pass completion rate of 70 per cent compared to Taylor’s 66 per cent.

He’s also had a considerably higher amount of touches in the opposition box per 90 minutes – 0.68 to 0.2 – as well as more key passes per 90 too – 0.62 to 0.5.

Defensively, Taylor has the edge though, winning more tackles and aerial duels, while Ward has made more interceptions.

Burnley are struggling for goals – only Swansea City have fewer in the Premier League this season than the Clarets’ 20 – while they also have the lowest expected goals (xG) value of any side in England’s top flight at 19.12.

As Dyche looks to turn the poor form around, it would make sense for him to reinstate Ward to give them the extra attacking edge which Taylor doesn’t have.

The former Leeds United man may have been in good form but, with the Clarets desperate for a win and goal, going with the more attacking option is the most logical choice for Dyche.

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