In his media interviews, Sean Dyche often refers to the “fine margins” that separate teams and decide games in the ultra-competitive atmosphere of the English Premier League.
It is unlikely however, that when making those statements he was envisaging a margin quite so tight as the 29.51mm by which Sergio Aguero’s scuffed shot had crossed Burnley’s goal line at Turf Moor yesterday, before Matthew Lowton scooped it clear.
Who knew that the goal-line technology was calibrated to such a degree of precision? It is akin to being in receipt of a speeding fine after a camera had recorded your car going at 30.1 miles per hour.
Despite the single goal defeat, at the hands of the title favourites Manchester City, there was nevertheless much to admire about Burnley’s play.
For the second time in a matter of six days, the Clarets had shown stoic resistance against technically superior opponents and although they were not rewarded yesterday with the point they had earned at Chelsea the previous Monday evening, they nonetheless received a fulsome acknowledgement for yesterday’s efforts from the Turf Moor faithful.
The 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge had displayed Burnley at their splendidly resolute and bloody-minded best. Jeff Hendrick’s sweetly struck volley had given Burnley the lead and although that lead was swiftly overhauled by two slickly-crafted Chelsea goals, the Clarets came back strongly to equalise when Ashley Barnes slid in at the far post to turn in Ben Mee’s deft header.
From then on Burnley held firm to the intense irritation of Chelsea manager, Sarri, his players and his staff. David Luiz complained that Burnley had scored from both of their two attempts on goal, completely missing the point that Luiz, as a defender, was culpable and could learn much about his craft from Burnley’s rearguard, in particular the excellent Ben Mee.
Sarri complained about Burnley wasting time, the irony of which was not lost on Burnley’s fans yesterday when Pep Guardiola sent on two auxiliary central defenders and instructed his players to head for the corner to preserve City’s lead. Burnley, it seems, play “anti-football” whilst Pep is a tactical genius. Go figure!
But this is not a time to complain or bemoan Burnley’s luck; the point they earned the hard way at Chelsea, coupled with Cardiff’s Saturday afternoon defeat at Fulham, mean that the Clarets’ Premier League future is confirmed to the satisfaction of the mathematicians.
The Burnley players, staff and manager deserve immense credit for their efforts in the second half of the season, when all had looked lost on Boxing Day. To achieve safety with three games still to play is to have achieved a task of Herculean proportions.
Written by Dave Thornley who contributes regularly for Clarets Mad. (TEC.)