Burnley remain unbeaten away from home in the Premier League this season with yesterday’s 1-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park and the three points have lifted us to sixth in the table.
It was another wonderful away performance from the Clarets with as fine a goal as you are ever likely to see. The move involved all but Nick Pope and Ben Mee and reached a total count of 24 passes before Jeff Hendrick finished it coolly after sidestepping Morgan Schneiderlin.
Was this our best away performance so far this season? I’d say so, certainly over the full ninety minutes, although that half hour at Chelsea when we went 3-0 up will live long in the memory.
I suppose we could have had Brilliant Bridge, Wonderful Wembley and Awesome Anfield previously so why not Glorious Goodison for this report title, a Burnley performance that really was something special.
It was around 12:15 when I left home. The early kick off had led to their being no lunch and drink stop on the way although that was still to be part of the day out. We parked up around a quarter of an hour’s walk from the ground and, for the first time this season, gained entry with no sign of a queue at the turnstiles.
My seat was not good. There was nothing wrong with the actual seat, just the view from it which was obscured by a big pillar just inches in front. I’ll let Everton deal with that issue for now while I report on the game as I saw it from my standing position in the Lower Bullens.
To provide some balance, I do like Goodison. It’s an old traditional ground and the whole place is full of tradition. The teams still come out to the old Z Cars theme while both before and after you are treated to a rendition of Grand Old Team although, listening to the Evertonians there is nothing too grand about them right now.
Our grand team were unchanged from the week before, the same eleven being given the opportunity to get us back to winning ways after drawing the two previous games at Liverpool and at home against Huddersfield. The only change came on the bench where Anders Lindegaard was preferred to Adam Legzdins as the substitute goalkeeper.
On the journey over there was a preview on the radio. It was all about Everton and their supposed problems and the suggestion was that Sean Dyche would tell the players to try and quieten the home crowd, or better still get them restless, by keeping it tight for the first half hour or so.
It didn’t quite work out like that. Everton certainly started the brighter of the two teams. Gylfi Sigurdsson failed with probably their best chance when he fired straight at Nick Pope. This came about after Ben Mee was caught out but I think that was his only mistake all afternoon, in all likelihood the only real mistake from any of the back four.
One of those four, Stephen Ward, who again was outstanding, saved the day when Oumar Niasse’s effort was heading for goal. It had gone over Pope but Ward was there to clear the danger from not too far from the line.
Sigurdsson went down in the box, but his attempts at winning a spot kick were waved away by referee Jon Moss but it wasn’t one way traffic and on a couple of occasions we’d had decent attacks that left you thinking Everton might be vulnerable defensively.
With less than twenty minutes gone, Everton’s best chances in this game had been and gone. Soon after we took the lead with a sensational goal that probably won’t be worth a mention on Match of the Day’s October Goal of the Month vote but it was superb.
I knew we’d strung a few passes together and that one of them, the cross field ball from Robbie Brady to Ward was brilliant, and that the finish was as calm as you like, but I hadn’t realised until seeing it again that it was 24 passes involving nine players, all but the goalkeeper and captain Mee.
Keep them quiet for half an hour? We’d flattened them and for the remainder of the first half they offered no threat and we might have even added to the goal. Just before the break we found ourselves with two yellow cards for Steven Defour and Scott Arfield, his third of the season.
Defour apparently said something to the referee but when we saw what the likes of Tom Davies got away with later in the game you have to wonder about the legitimacy of that card. The big debate came with the second when Arfield was booked for diving just a week after Dyche’s rant over Rajiv van La Parra.
Will Arfield be getting Dyche’s curly finger today? I don’t think so. It’s not a penalty, that looks certain to me, but there is slight contact and I don’t think Arfield has dived. The card for me is harsh.
I thought we’d played so, so well in the first half. We’d got it just right in my view, but the second half I thought was absolutely brilliant as we shut out any threat of a response for the home team who were left appealing for non-existent penalties in sheer desperation.
Ronald Koeman moans about us being a direct side but this wasn’t Dutch total football we saw from the home side, it was as direct as it comes as ball after ball was played forward. We dealt with the lot of it without too much concern.
We were brilliant. The back four got everything right with James Tarkowski simply outstanding and in front of Michael Keane at the other end who looked nothing like the player who wore claret and blue with such distinction. The midfield worked their socks off. I was shattered just watching the likes of Jack Cork but they all worked as hard.
Everton threw on Wayne Rooney just past the hour. When I saw he was missing from the Everton starting line up I thought he might not have been able to get there. It looks as though Colleen must have dropped him off.
His contribution was to fire a few shots from distance high into the Sir Philip Carter Stand and feel he could argue every decision that didn’t go their way with the referee.
I have to admit that I was looking at the clock far too often; I didn’t need to do that to be often but I also have to admit that my heart was in my mouth twice when they all went up for those penalties. The first one isn’t. I don’t care where it has hit Matt Lowton, it is not a penalty. The second appeal is nothing short of a joke, it’s nowhere near his arms.
It was nothing other than desperation from Everton who were losing to a better team, it’s a simple as that.
Ashley Barnes came on late in the day with Hendrick leaving to great applause from the Burnley fans. He did what he does and immediately won us a free kick.
Up went the board for four extra minutes but it mattered not. This game was in the bag.
When this season’s fixtures came out I looked at the first five away games and they looked terrifying. I’m not even going to dare suggest that a trip to the Etihad in three weeks won’t be difficult but eight points from the first four is brilliant, and, you know what, every single one of those points has been fully deserved.
Yesterday’s win has taken us past last season’s points total on the road, and we were already well past the 2009/10 total. We are now just six points short of our best season on the road in the Premier League.
You have to go back to the 1970/71 season for the last time we played four top flight games without defeat. On that occasion they were all draws at Stoke, Blackpool, Manchester United and Newcastle.
The win also took our unbeaten run, home and away, to five games since losing against West Brom and that’s a record for us in the Premier League, beating the run of four games in 2014/15 against Hull, Stoke, Aston Villa and Newcastle.
And it was our manager’s 100th league win as a manager. What more can we ask?
Being in Liverpool yesterday it reminded me once more of that chat I had with former Claret Billy Rodaway in 1977 when he asked me why I kept going to away games when we were so poor. “You never know when it’s going to be good,” I told him. It’s beyond good now and I can’t wait for the next trip.
The day wasn’t quite over. We might have missed the refreshment stop on the way there but we certainly weren’t missing out on the way back.
We are not aware of any towns by the name of Tarkowski or Defour, there’s not even a Hendrick or an Arfield, while Cork was too far away, so off we went to LOWTON close to Newton-le-Willows to a pub for some good beer and food, and guess what? There are two Clarets living next door to the pub.
What a day out it was.
The teams were;
Everton: Jordan Pickford, Cuco Martina, Michael Keane, Ashley Williams, Leighton Baines, Nikola Vlasic (Tom Davies 69), Idrissa Gueye, Morgan Schneiderlin (Wayne Rooney 63), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Omar Niasse (Sandro Ramirez 82). Subs not used: Maarten Stekelenburg, Mason Holgate, Davy Klaassen, Ademola Lookman.
Yellow Cards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Leighton Baines.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield, Jeff Hendrick (Ashley Barnes 88), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ashley Westwood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Sam Vokes.
Yellow Cards: Steven Defour, Scott Arfield.
Referee: Jon Moss (Horsforth).
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