Reality check required at Turf Moor.
Having ascended to the stratospheric realms of cloud nine with the Clarets against the odds victory over Chelsea last week, Burnley yesterday received a harsh reminder that the Premier League can be an unforgiving environment when West Bromwich Albion turned up at Turf Moor and were allowed to escape with all three points.
“Fortress Turf Moor” is now becoming a myth. The cold hard statistics reveal that Burnley have not won on their own patch since Stoke City were dispatched as far back as early April, that being the only victory out of eight home games in all competitions.
Whilst this will rightly be of some concern to Sean Dyche and his staff, comfort can be drawn from the fact that there was still much to admire in Burnley’s play yesterday, particularly in regard of some smart midfield combination play from Jack Cork and Steven Defour.
The two combined to produce a series of eminently accessible goal-scoring opportunities, which sadly went unfinished. Missed headers from Mee and Gudmundsson in the first half and Walters close to full time, were particularly profligate.
Defour indeed was something of a revelation, gone is the spent force after seventy minutes; in his place is a thrusting, vibrant, ball-hungry player making lung-bursting forty yard sprints deep into stoppage time.
On another day those chances he helped to create would have been converted and Burnley would have secured the win. Instead of which, an uncharacteristically miss-timed header by Ben Mee allowed Hal Robson-Kanu to break clear, shrug off a fairly limp challenge from James Tarkowski and stroke the ball into the corner of Tom Heaton’s goal.
The red card shown to Robson-Kanu shortly afterwards for his flailing elbow which flattened Matt Lowton, came too late to make a difference and Albion’s rigid discipline and flagrant manipulation of the clock allowed them to absorb Burnley’s pressure.
So an irritating result for the Clarets, throwing up some things to ponder upon and perhaps one or two tweaks to make, but in general nothing to be unduly distressed about.
One of those tweaks looks like coming in the form of Chris Wood, whose £15 million transfer from Leeds United looks like being completed tomorrow. Wood fits the template established by Sean Dyche of a typical Burnley signing; a consistently successful Championship performer who is young enough and hopefully hungry enough to succeed at Premier League level.
Will he be thrust into the white-hot cauldron of Wednesday’s League Cup fixture at Ewood Park? If he is, he can expect no tougher test of his metal than that.
The cup tie against Blackburn is an unwelcome fixture; weighed down with the enormous quantity of extra baggage that any other draw would not have carried; it is no longer a game the Clarets should win, but one which they must win.
Cup matches of the recent past against Accrington Stanley and Lincoln City have shown Burnley to react badly to being heavy favourites, they cannot afford for this to happen on Wednesday.
This match review was written by the long suffering Burnley fan that is David Thornley. Read him at your peril. (TEC.)