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In Focus: Brilliant Burn key to Magpies' rearguard resilience
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Alan Feehely
Dan Burn has been fundamental to Newcastle's superb defensive record
Dan Burn has been fundamental to Newcastle's superb defensive record

Newcastle's attacking stars have stolen the headlines this season but it is quietly impressive acquisitions like Dan Burn have provided the bedrock for the Magpies' European charge. 

Burn — a boyhood Newcastle fan — was signed from Brighton in January last year and has proven himself to be solid and reliable. 

The Magpies have not played European football since 2012-13 when they were eliminated from the quarter-final of the Europa League by Portuguese giants Benfica and are on course to return next season. 

Ahead of Newcastle's Premier League clash with Bournemouth this evening, we take a look at 30-year-old Burn's impact.

Quite the year

Toon have enjoyed a remarkable year since the club was taken over and appointed Eddie Howe as their new coach, going from battling relegation to fighting for Europe.

The Magpies have taken 40 points from the 21 games they have played this season and are fourth in the Premier League ahead of their visit to the Vitality Stadium.

They are within five points of both Manchester clubs, while Tottenham, the team chasing them in fifth, have played a game more than their northern counterparts and are a point behind. 

That makes a big change from when Howe took over. Newcastle were 19th in the league table having taken just five points from their opening 11 games and were yet to win that season.

Strong foundations

The bedrock of Newcastle's success has been a superbly organised defence. They have conceded just 12 goals in the Premier League so far this season and boast the best rearguard. 

Howe has almost exclusively set his side up in a 4-3-3 formation that has Nick Pope starting behind a back four of Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman and Burn. 

This is the kind of asymmetrical back four that has become increasingly popular in the modern game. 

Burn is a centre-back playing on the left, holding his position while Trippier is allowed creative freedom. 

This means that the Magpies are often actually playing a back three as Trippier is so important to their production in the final third. The flexibility to play that hybrid role is hard to find but Burn has managed to look comfortable while doing so.

Despite his towering stature, Dan Burn has primarily featured at left-back this term
Despite his towering stature, Dan Burn has primarily featured at left-back this term

Clean and competent

Burn has won 25 tackles, 19 interceptions and 50 aerial duels in the 1,766 minutes of Premier League football that he has played so far this season.

Not that he is incapable on the ball, either. Burn has completed 654 of his 830 attempted passes, funnelling 110 of those into the final third.

 He is also a boyhood Magpie, having been born in Blyth in Northumberland, just 21 kilometres northeast of the River Tyne. 

The foreign imports Newcastle have brought in — notably Guimaraes — have also become folk heroes on the terraces. 

But there is something special about a boyhood supporter who succeeds in his club's colours.

Dan Burn has been a defensive rock so far this season
Dan Burn has been a defensive rock so far this season

International recognition

Howe has understandably been delighted with the impact that Burn has made since arriving on Tyneside.

Speaking last month, he revealed he believes his defender could even be in line for international recognition.

He said: "Dan is probably silently motivated by [his exclusion from England's World Cup squad]. I do not think it is something he would communicate necessarily to me or to his team-mates. But I think he is very much of the mindset that his performances speak for themselves.

"For me, he was very unlucky not to go to the World Cup. Not putting pressure on Gareth but I would think he would have been very close. He just missed out, I think, and has carried that form on. 

"It is a credit to Dan that he has carried that form on. The World Cup has ended and that dream faded, but there is still time for him and his adaptability and versatility is potentially a real avenue and a route in for England."

Season-defining few months

Dan Burn has been brilliant in the air for Newcastle
Dan Burn has been brilliant in the air for Newcastle

As well as pivotal fixtures in the Premier League, Newcastle have a date in the capital to look forward to.

 They face the mighty Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on February 26. 

Burn has enjoyed himself in the competition and there is nothing like a cup run to inspire a fanbase, especially when it correlates with an impressive showing in the league.

Burn scored his first — and only — goal for the Magpies in the quarter-final of the competition, opening the scoring in what turned out to be an eventual 2-0 victory over Leicester. 

He would love for his second to come against United later this month, as would Newcastle's legion of supporters.

But whether or not he troubles the scoresheet, his defensive excellence is what has won their hearts.


Premier LeagueNewcastle UnitedDaniel Burn
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