09 Mar Burnley’s Gudmundsson has sights set on catching Arsenal
Johann Berg Gudmundsson thinks catching Arsenal is not out of the question for Burnley as they look to finish a remarkable season in style.
The Clarets have been the surprise package of the Premier League campaign and, with nine matches to go, they are the best of the rest outside the big six and have a chance of qualifying for Europe next season.
Burnley were once as high as fourth and can close to within two points of Arsenal in sixth with victory over West Ham on Saturday before the Gunners meet Watford on Sunday.
Gudmundsson said: “I think they are only five points ahead of us now, but it’s about going into every game and working as hard as we always do. And just try to get as many points as we can by the end of the season. If that means catching Arsenal, it would be great. If not, we have still had a fantastic season.
“We just want to keep doing better. This is the first time we have got 40 points this early, so it’s about finding new challenges and getting even more points. Footballers are all winners – we want to win every game so even with 40 points we are not going to put the handbrake on and stop showing up at the weekend.”
Burnley were among the favourites to go down, but Sean Dyche’s men have built on last season’s achievements, when they survived in the Premier League for the first time by finishing 16th with 40 points.
Last weekend’s victory over Everton, their first win in 13 matches, saw them equal that tally and they will be fancied to set a new club record at the London Stadium on Saturday.
West Ham have stuttered after a fine start under David Moyes and have won just one of their last seven matches, losing the last two 4-1 against Liverpool and Swansea.
“That shows how far we have come if people think we are favourites against a big club like West Ham,” said Gudmundsson. “Away as well. That’s credit to us. They have had two sticky games so they will be fired up for this one.
“Hopefully it will be a good game. Our performance against Everton was very good and if we carry on like that we will have a really good chance.
Icelandic winger Gudmundsson has been one of the stand-out Burnley players this season, scoring twice and setting up six goals as well as many more chances with his excellent delivery from the left.
He has been ever present since the end of October and appreciates his run in the side all the more after last season, when he started just 10 Premier League games.
He said: “Last season was tough for me personally. A few injuries – did my hamstring, did my knee, did everything I possibly could do. That was frustrating but this season I think I have played some good football. The team has played well too, so it has all come together. Luckily I have been playing more than on the bench, and that’s where you want to be.”
While Gudmundsson is fully focused on helping Burnley, he has the huge carrot of a first World Cup finals this summer after Iceland built on their stunning European Championship performance by qualifying for Russia.
He said: “Obviously the World Cup is coming up and if I can carry on the form I have been showing so far, then happy days. There are definitely similarities (between Iceland and Burnley) – how we play, the mentality of the squad, and we are both doing very well.”