Dave Thornley, the Clarets Mad resident match summariser reflects on yesterday's woeful encounter with relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion at a windswept Turf Moor.
First off, the positives; during the week Burnley played two games against teams below them in the league. It was of vital importance that neither Fulham nor West Bromwich Albion left Turf Moor with all three points, this at least was achieved and Burnley’s cushion of points between them and the relegation positions remains intact.
Sadly, for Clarets fans there were plenty of negatives, and these outweighed the positives. In Wednesday evening’s game against Fulham, the image of Johann Berg Gudmundsson trudging down the tunnel after picking up yet another injury was hard to take.
Professional players accept injury as an occupational hazard, but surely not in the quantities that Gudmundsson has had to endure.
This latest setback was perhaps the cruellest of them all, coming as it did just as the Icelandic international had fought his way back into Burnley’s starting eleven, was playing well and scoring goals.
His replacement, Robbie Brady, had a nightmare evening; receiving a yellow card early in the second half and in the process conceding a free kick, which led to a corner. From the resultant corner kick, Fulham scored, which Brady himself would have prevented had his swinging foot made contact with the ball instead of a whiff of the cold Burnley air.
To add injury to insult, Brady’s hamstring gave way and he too was substituted.
At least his blushes were spared when Jay Rodriguez sold a dummy on the right wing which Fulham’s full back not only bought but paid way over market value for. Jay Rod’s precise early low cross was met by Ashley Barnes who finished one of the easier chances to have ever been presented to him.
The Barnes/Rodriguez partnership had flourished against both Fulham and Crystal Palace, but yesterday at home to West Brom, the pair were separated as Barnes was missing in action with yet another injury.
Injuries have become an infuriating sub-plot to Burnley’s season. Whist some of this can be put down to ill-luck, it is worth posing the theory that perhaps this rash of injuries is a direct result of the sheer physical demands of the EPL being placed on a relatively small squad.
Add into the mix the inescapable fact a sizable number of players in the Clarets' first team squad are the wrong side of thirty.
The Clarets’ performance against West Bromwich Albion provided some compelling evidence in support of this theory. With the possible exception of the early season away match at Newcastle, this was by some distance Burnley’s worst display of the season.
Burnley were far too careless in possession; their passing was lamentable and there was no vigour and imagination in their play. There were a rash of unprecedented defensive lapses, which afforded the visitors at least three gilt-edged chances which they squandered. Better teams than the Baggies would not have been so lenient.
All this came after Baggies defender Semi Ajayi had been shown a red card in the first half for a handball which was deemed to have prevented Matej Vydra from fashioning a clear goalscoring opportunity. An impertinent suggestion maybe, but perhaps the VAR official was not as familiar with Vydra’s record in front of goal as Clarets' fans have become.
Ajayi had pushed the ball away with his hand which was pretty obvious. But when another West Brom defender handled the ball in penalty area in an almost identical manner during the second half, this was deemed by VAR not to be an offence. Later, one of the few Burnley passes to reach its intended destination was controlled by Josh Brownhill on his chest, only for Mike Dean to blow for handball.
VAR continues to court controversy and it was a major surprise Dean was not ushered back to the on field monitor at the start of the second half, when the Baggies skipper Kyle Bartley clearly controlled a header by Conor Townsend with an outstretched arm inside his own box. How on earth Burnley were not awarded a penalty defies any logical explanation.
Had Burnley been awarded and converted the penalty they were denied, it would have been unjust in the extreme on Sam Allardyce's team who undeniably played the better football even with ten men.
In such circumstances, it is incumbent on the team with the numerical advantage to make the running and push for the victory. Burnley under Sean Dyche are more comfortable absorbing pressure than they are at applying it and so lax was their play, this was a point stolen rather than one well earned.
At least now there is a break of eight days before Burnley play next against Jose Mourinho’s out of form Spurs. This gives a chance for some player recuperation, and for Sean Dyche to press the re-set button and get some important players back to full match fitness.
There is a tough batch of fixtures ahead, from which Burnley will need to be at their best to gain any points. No re-occurrence of yesterday’s display can be tolerated.
This summary is posted right across social media, which was edited and posted from Clarets Mad, by The Editors Chair (TEC).