Palace Breached

Last updated : 14 February 2021 By Dave Thornley

 Dave Thornley, the Clarets Mad resident match analysist gets his mojo on and reflects on yesterday's game. 

Being a Burnley Football Club supporter is comparable to signing up for a roller-coaster ride of emotional turbulence. Matchday Clarets’ fans usually experience a span of emotions ranging from anguish to euphoria and everything else in between. During this emotional turbulence it is hard to keep a level head, so we just try to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground and grimly accept whatever is coming next. 

Fortunately, Burnley have in Sean Dyche a manager who is adept at doing just that; added to his refusal to buckle and the man’s innate resilience are quite possibly his greatest managerial strengths. 

The downside to that is an apparent inability to rouse his players to soar to great heights for a one-off game – a fifth round FA Cup tie for example. 

The midweek FA Cup defeat at home to Bournemouth was the latest example of Burnley slithering out of a cup competition against opponents they are more than capable of putting away. 

It troubles me that the Burnley gaffer’s overriding priority extends no further than accumulating the forty points required to stay in the English Premier League. That was fine when the Clarets were impressionable newbies to the big boys’ table, but after spending seven of the last eight seasons in the top tier of English football, surely Burnley can consider themselves an established Premier League outfit. 

For us supporters there is no glory to be had in examining the club’s latest balance sheet and surely the game is all about the pursuit of glory? 

It is incumbent upon the new owners to address this by giving Dyche an enhanced squad of players for next season to enable him to make a better effort in the cup competitions and compete effectively on three fronts. 

Anyway, whinge over, and back onto the roller coaster, as Burnley turned in their most compelling and comprehensive ninety minutes of football of the season yesterday afternoon while nonchantly sweeping aside Crystal Palace by three goals to nil at Selhurst Park. 

All the elements of Burnley’s play came together in a display that was exuberant and relentless yet remained defensively solid.  

Solidity at the back we take as read, but some of Burnley’s transitional play through the midfield and linking with the attack came as a joyous surprise, even to this grizzled old supporter. 

The tone was set as early as the fifth minute, when Palace’s centre backs between them made a hash of dealing with an Erik Pieters cross and allowing Johann Berg Gudmundsson the time and space to turn and drill a hard, low shot into the corner of the goal. 

More defensive blunders were to follow; an Ashley Barnes shot deflected wide for a corner, which in turn was delivered precisely onto Jay Rodriguez’s top knot and from there into the Palace net. A simple headed goal from a corner. Roy Hodgson looking on from the Palace technical area must have been beside himself with frustration. 

At times in the first half Burnley looked like scoring with every attack, so precise was their play and so jittery was the home defence. 

Palace had a spell of ten minutes or so towards the end of the half where they put some moves together which, although they ran aground on the Clarets’ defence, at least hinted that the home team may come out strong in the second half and mount a revival. 

Such notions were firmly extinguished on 47 minutes when Matt Lowton picked off a wayward attempt at a forward pass and proceeded to gallop down the right wing. He shrugged of one defender; sidestepped another and slipped the ball to Rodriguez on the far side of the penalty area. 

Jay Rod’s clever and precisely executed clipped return was met sweetly on the volley by Lowton and was past Guaita in the Palace goal before he was able to fashion an effort to repel it. 

A lovely cameo came post-match from a bemused Matt Lowton when he said, "VAR had checked the goal, not to see if it was offside, but to check it actually happened!" 

For the remainder of the game Burnley were composed and professional in dealing with what was quite frankly a very poor Crystal Palace team and might easily have added to their lead. The only downside was a collision late in the game which resulted in Ben Mee being carried off on a stretcher.  

The Burnley skipper is reported to be dazed but otherwise okay. It remains to be seen if he will have recovered in time for Wednesday evening’s home game against Fulham.  

There were several excellent individual performances to recognise at Selhurst Park; Lowton for his brilliant goal and his general all-round contribution; Dwight McNeill was a constant threat on the wing; Jack Cork bossed the midfield; Ashley Barnes who was outstanding in his hold-up play and Jay Rodriguez who came away with a goal and an assist which will do his confidence the world of good. 

When Burnley play like they did yesterday, they look an accomplished and formidable team; and whilst it is rewarding to keep clean sheets and secure the 1-0 wins which keep Burnley in the Premier League, it would be lovely to think that we could be treated to more performances like yesterdays.  

This summary will be posted across various social media platforms from the article written by Dave, which was edited and posted from Clarets Mad, by The Editors Chair (TEC).