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Scout Report: What are third-bottom Burton Albion all about, & are they as bad as Sunderland?

It’s a big game today - the first we’ve ever played against our opponent’s, Burton Albion. Who are they, what are they about and what should we be wary of?

Burton Albion v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship

The story so far

Burton are currently enduring a wretched home run where they have lost their last five and conceded 17 goals. The Brewers have conceded the most home goals this season and have the second worst home form, with seven points picked up from their nine home games. If Chris Coleman could have picked a side to play in order to potentially find a first win, Burton would likely be that side.

Nigel Clough has his team sitting in third bottom within touching distance of those above them. This season they have won three, drawn five and lost 10 games. Their wins this season have been against Birmingham City, Fulham and Millwall. The most concerning thing for Burton, however, is the fact that they have lost 4-1 to Hull, 5-0 to Leeds, 4-0 to Villa, 4-0 to Wolves and 4-2 against Barnsley. That is tied for the worst defensive record, and they share that accolade with... us, of course.

Though Burton share the worst defensive record with Sunderland, they have actually scored nearly half the amount as us in the league. Burton have 12 goals this season - comfortably the worst attack in the division - whereas Sunderland have 23 goals.

If Burton continue to score and concede at this pace until the end of the season they are likely to end up with a goal difference of around -55. Ouch.

Aston Villa v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Grabban has been a source of optimism for the club.
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Last time out

Nigel Clough took his struggling side to London midweek where they faced Brentford. The Brewers were able to steal a late point which could prove crucial come the end of the season.

The visitors were content with keeping themselves tight at the back and not worrying too much about attacking or keeping the ball. Brentford enjoyed 67% of the ball but were only able to convert that possession into two measly shots on target.

Florian Jozefzoon scored a 25 yard free kick to give Brentford the lead just after half time. However Burton punished the hosts for not turning their possession into goals and scored on 78 minutes through defender Ben Turner. The Brewers nearly snatched all three points, but Marvin Sordell fired his shot straight at the keeper after being played through one on one.


Dangerman

It is difficult to pinpoint a dangerman for Burton Albion because they have such a poor forward line. They have three players tied for top scorer with two goals - one of those is center back Ben Turner. So who is the dangerman?

Marvin Sordell is the one name that jumps out from the page - he always looks dangerous and energetic. He could cause our defence problems - I am looking at you John O’Shea - with his pace. That said, Sordell is hardly prolific - he takes an average of 1.5 shots per game and scores at a rate of once every 600 minutes.

Nigel Clough of Liverpool
Nigel Clough played nearly 40 games for Liverpool in the 90s.

Manager

Nigel Clough, son of former Sunderland player Brian Clough, was actually born in Sunderland when his father was manager of Hartlepool United. Nigel played over 300 games for Nottingham Forest before moving onto Liverpool and Manchester City. He finished his playing career at Burton Albion where he was the player/manager from 1998-2008.

Clough left Burton in 2009 for Championship side Derby where he enjoyed some reasonable success. Clough was eventually sacked in 2013 as Derby were stagnating, with the former England international unable to take the Rams any further forward.

The Sheffield United job came calling for Clough almost instantly after he was sacked as Derby manager. During his time at United he guided the club to an FA Cup semi-final and a League Cup semi-final - impressive since they were a League One side. At the end of the 2014-15 season, Clough and the Blades parted ways.

Burton came calling for Clough again after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink left to join QPR, guiding the Brewers to a historic promotion to the Championship, before eventually managing to keep them there last season. This year the task is survival again, and you can’t help but wonder if that Cloughy magic could see Burton defy the odds and stay up for a second successive campaign.


Referee

Darren England will have the privilege of refereeing the first ever league meeting between Burton Albion and Sunderland. This will be the third Sunderland game this season for England, who also took charge of our 1-1 draw away at Hull and 3-3 draw at Brentford.

England has refereed the Brewers just once this season, their 4-1 defeat away at Hull City - where he sent off Burton player Jackson Irvine.


Statistical analysis

Burton Albion are essentially a side playing above their level, and you can see this by the amount of goals they have scored and conceded this season.

However, what Burton lack in ability they can often make up for with hard work and grit. Yes, they have taken some beatings this season, but they have also defended admirably on occasion and have kept a few clean sheets - unlike Sunderland.

Credit www.whoscored.com

Burton have an average possession total of 43% and a pass accuracy of 64%, making them easily the worse side in the league in regards to ball retention. In contrast Sunderland have possession totals of 49% and pass accuracy of 71% - making them about league average with the ball.

Burton are also weak in relation to shot attempts, as they have the league's worst average of shot attempts per game of 7.9 - Sunderland generally get around 11 shots in per game.