Calamity Defending Costs Clarets

Last updated : 12 March 2019 By Dave Thornley

Losing to Liverpool at Anfield is no big deal; the majority of Premier League teams have, and will, suffer the same fate that befell Burnley in Sunday's lunchtime encounter.

To harbour ambitions of causing any sort of upset at the home of the title contenders, then it is essential that the basic disciplines of defensive play are scrupulously adhered to.

Such disciplines are traditionally Burnley’s strength; it is their modus operandi, it is what they do best; more than that, it is hard-wired into their DNA – it is who they are.

So when that defensive structure becomes less secure, it is doubly alarming, as it threatens to bring down the whole edifice and undo much of the progress that the club has made under Sean Dyche.

When the things upon which Burnley rely without thought or question cease to function, then the wheels ineviably fall off the wagon.

Goalkeeper and skipper Tom Heaton is the de facto commander-in-chief of Burnley’s defensive unit; but at Anfield he oversaw some defensive play which was so sloppy it bordered on the farcical.

Having taken an early lead as a result of Ashley Westwood’s corner being caught upon the blustery Liverpool wind and floating directly into the Reds’ goal, Burnley then had a perhaps unexpected foothold in the game. If ever a lead needed to be preserved, protected and cherished then this was it.

But as it transpired, Burnley gifted back the advantage to Liverpool with some defending that was so uncoordinated that it made Bambi on ice look like Torvill and Dean.

Heaton himself compounded the misery in the second half with a loose clearance that fell invitingly to the feet of Mo Salah, who combined with Roberto Firminho for Liverpool’s third goal.

Although Johan Berg Gudmundsson narrowed the deficit in stoppage time; Burnley’s subsequent anxiety to press for an unlikely (and undeserved) equaliser merely resulted in them leaving their back door wide open to invite Liverpool in for a fourth goal.

This defensive deterioration coupled with a woeful set of results the previous day leave Burnley once again deep in trouble. The Clarets’ season now hinges on their next four matches; home games against Leicester and Wolves; a visit to Bournemouth and culminating in what now looks like a vital clash with Cardiff City at Turf Moor.

Burnley have enough talent within their squad to survive in the Premier League; but so too do Brighton, Southampton, Cardiff, Newcastle and Crystal Palace; one of those teams, however, will be relegated. The Clarets must make sure that it is not them.

A reflection on Burnley's current relegation woes written by Dave Thornley on behalf of Clarets Mad. (TEC.)