Clarets Mad resident feature writer Dave Thornley reflects on yesterday's narrow and undeserved home defeat at the hands of the Gunners.
Coming away from Turf Moor after yesterday’s 1-0 defeat by Arsenal, there was an overwhelming feeling that recent history was repeating itself.
Most Clarets fans, like myself, still wince at the injustices heaped upon us when offside and handball “goals” in previous encounters had robbed Burnley of hard-earned points against frankly better Gunners teams that the one which rocked up at Turf Moor yesterday afternoon.
This time, culprit in chief was referee Anthony Taylor, whose flagrantly unbalanced interpretation of the rules saw numerous challenges from Arsenal players being waved away, whilst free kicks were invariably awarded for similar challenges by Burnley players.
That said, it is hard to argue against the fact that Taylor got the decision which led to the game’s only goal correct.
The slippery Arsenal and England forward Bukayo Saka’s weaving run was terminated by Ashley Westwood clipping his heels on the edge of the Burnley penalty area. The central positioning and its distance from goal ensured that, to an accomplished free kick taker, this was almost as good as a penalty.
It transpired that Martin Odegaard is such a free kick taker, and his kick by-passed the Burnley wall and found the corner of Nick Pope’s net.
In the second half, the introduction of Matej Vydra and, particularly debutant Maxwel Cornet brought about a distinct lifting of the tempo from Burnley and offered enhanced impetus. The crowd responded by creating the sort of atmosphere that the players invariably respond to.
Dwight McNeil, Josh Brownhill and Charlie Taylor all had impressive second halves, but on the evidence of his half hour cameo, it is clear that Cornet has it within him to provide the kind of intelligence and class that can win Premier League matches.
On the hour, a lose pass was seized upon by Mattej Vydra. His attempt to take the ball around Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal resulted on Vydra falling over Ramsdale’s outstretched arm.
Taylor pointed to the penalty spot. As fouls go it was marginal, but VAR deemed Taylor to have made a “Clear and Obvious Error” and overturned the award of the penalty. It may have been the correct decision, but was there a “clear and obvious” reason to overturn the original award? That much is debatable.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision (and to restart play with a drop ball instead of a corner was farcical) I am a Burnley fan, I wanted the penalty and the goal that would have followed and coming at a time when Burnley had the game by the scruff of the neck, it may well have concluded with a Clarets win.
As it happened, Arsenal were able to withstand the pressure Burnley exerted, partly through a solid defensive performance and partly through Burnley being unable to find a precise cross or a defence splitting pass.
It has become a recurring theme of this season’s pieces to acknowledge that Burnley have played well but failed to emerge with a win. This has become an annoyance and whilst we may bemoan a lack of good fortune, placing a reliance on a change of luck is not going to help Burnley extract themselves from their current predicament. At least however, the performances, once introduced, of Cornet and to a lesser extent Vydra, and the way it galvanised both the team and the supporters, pointed to an immediate future of greater promise.
Finally, it is with sadness that we learned today of the passing of Jimmy Greaves, one of the truly great goalscoring legends of English football and another of the Boys of 66, although in Greaves’ case his experience of that tournament was not one of triumph, rather one of bitter disappointment when he missed the final after picking up an injury in an earlier round and found himself unable to re-claim his place.
The experience caused him to lose his focus and that, plus an unhealthy relationship with drink, combined to shorten a brilliant career. His redemption came as a sparky and irreverent TV pundit in the eighties when he was teamed up with Ian St John for the Saint and Greavsie show.
Rest in peace Greavsie, memories of your genius will linger on.
Slowly, the truly iconic players of the 1960's Burnley and Spurs teams are passing on to the great footy pitch in the sky. Thanks for all of the memories guys. (TEC.)