Burnley and Sheffield United - two sides chasing an improbable European berth - were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw on Sunday in their Premier League meeting at Turf Moor in Sunday's early kick-off.
A relatively mediocre first half was starved of much goalmouth action, although Burnley grabbed the opening goal against the run of play when James Tarkowski stabbed home from a free-kick just before half time.
Burnley ? Set-pieces— 90min (@90min_Football) July 5, 2020
James Tarkowski puts the Clarets ahead vs Sheffield United. pic.twitter.com/DfpqVpHm6u
Sheffield United threw caution to the (very blustery) wind in the second half in pursuit of a goal, sticking three strikers on the pitch and moving away from their regular back three. Those changes eventually paid off ten minutes from time, as John Egan latched onto Billy Sharp's neat flick to slam an unstoppable half volley beyond Nick Pope.
Not a match to shout home about, but one in which defensive resolve from the hosts almost got them over the line.
Key Talking Point
Coming into Sunday's clash with just one defeat in their last ten matches, the form Burnley have shown in the latter stage of this season is putting them in genuine contention for European football.
As seen with the previous time they entered into European competition, the negative impact it had on their Premier League campaign risked threatening their top flight status. If they are to get into the Europa League again, then the necessity for reinforcements and added quality in attack is heightened ten-fold.
Sean Dyche repeatedly squeezes every ounce of ability he can out of his players to immensely credible lengths, but there comes a point where he needs assistance and finance from the club in order for the Clarets to push on and compete domestically and in Europe. Or else, they risk going down the same route as last time.
Starting XI: Pope (7); Bardsley (6), Long (6), Tarkowski (7*), Taylor (6); McNeil (6), Westwood (6), Brownhill (7), Pieters (5); Rodriguez (5), Vydra (5)
Substitutes: Wood (5)
It was far from vintage Burnley (if that's such a thing) at Turf Moor, but being second best for large spells meant their defenders needed to be on their game. Without Ben Mee, James Tarkowski was forced to take the brunt of the Blades' attacks, something he did fairly well. And he scored, that always helps.
1 - James Tarkowski's goal was Burnley's first goal in the first half of a Premier League game since March (v Spurs) - indeed, this was just the fourth time in their last 21 league games that they've scored a first half goal. Rarity. #BURSHU pic.twitter.com/wHH8RXFktn— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 5, 2020
James Tarkowski and John Egan on the scoresheet in a 1-1 draw between Burnley and Sheffield United at Turf Moor. The Blades centre half was brought in as Tarkowski's replacement at Brentford in 2016.— Daniel Black (@DanBlack84) July 5, 2020
Key Talking Point
Having been chasing Champions League football and blowing sides away on a weekly basis to suddenly at risk of missing out on Europe entirely, there is cause for concern in south Yorkshire. It's been quite evident from their matches since the league resumed is that their fitness levels has dropped significantly.
Playing such a high-intensity style prior to the Premier League coming back meant that the long break would only work to hinder their momentum. As seen at Turf Moor and in the previous win over Tottenham, that is returning, meaning that we're starting to see glimpses of the Sheffield United side who have sparkled this season.
It was not a great display on Sunday, but with the chances they created it was a match they were deserving to get something out of. They looked sharper in attack, more fluid in midfield and Sander Berge is starting to find his feet. After such a fine season, a blip was always expected, but the early signs are there that Chris Wilder's side are overcoming that hurdle.
Starting XI: Henderson (5); Basham (6), Egan (7), Robinson (5); Baldock (6), Berge (7), Norwood (5), Osborn (6), Stevens (6); McGoldrick (7*), McBurnie (5)
Substitutes: O'Connell (6), Sharp (7), Mousset (5), Rodwell (5)
Wilder knows full well what David McGoldrick brings to his side - aside from the obvious omission of goals - with tireless running, neat link up play and a commanding presence in both boxes.
He may not be one for the statistic lovers, but he rarely puts in a sub-par performance, as seen at Turf Moor.
Imagine if we'd built a team around David Mcgoldrick.— Matt Readett (@M_R_93_) July 5, 2020
David McGoldrick is such an underrated player.— Matthew Harris (@MattHarris2909) July 5, 2020
Burnley are in the capital next up to take on relegation-threatened West Ham, while Sheffield United host Champions League chasing Wolves at Bramall Lane.
Source : 90min