Hardly a classic but the run continues
Burnley drew 0-0 at home against Huddersfield Town yesterday and it isn’t a ninety minutes that will live long in the memory. However, it did take our unbeaten league run to four games, equalling our previous best which came in November and December 2014.
I don’t know why, but there seemed to be a real belief yesterday that this was going to be a comfortable in. Maybe that was because we were playing a newly promoted club, one new to the Premier League and a club hardly bigger than our own.
But we were also playing a Huddersfield team that have started the season well and sat above us on goal difference, a Huddersfield team whose main plan is to keep clean sheets as often as possible and they arrived at the Turf having kept three in their first five games which is some achievement.
With the warmer weather still with us, I’d been able to take advantage and watch the youth team earlier in the day and the 3-1 win against Yorkshire opposition, Sheffield Wednesday in their case, left me hopeful of a double against white rose clubs. It’s wasn’t to be, it wasn’t a good performance and certainly wasn’t a good game but, on reflection, the performance was nothing like as disappointing as some would have you believe.
Sean Dyche made one change from the team that drew at Liverpool with Jeff Hendrick, fit again and having got through ninety minutes against Leeds, coming back in at the expense of Johan Berg Gudmundsson, who missed out for the first time this season.
In the previous home game, against Crystal Palace, we reverted to the tried and trusted 4-4-2, and there were thoughts it would be the same this time, but Dyche opted for the formation he’s used in all the away games and in the home defeat against West Brom.
We were, undoubtedly, the better side in the first half but it was a frustrating affair against a very defensively minded Huddersfield, marshalled by Christopher Schindler and his list of defenders. Rarely did we open them up and there were very few chances created although Chris Wood should have done better with a header following some good work down the left from Robbie Brady and Stephen Ward with the latter getting in the cross.
Without a goal at half time; if we thought we were going to step things up in the second half we were to be disappointed because Huddersfield had more of the game and probably the better of the chances.
They allowed us to have the ball but always with numbers behind it. There was one little spell when it looked as though Brady might have the key to unlock their defence but we just couldn’t get through them. Ashley Barnes came on, and then Gudmundsson, but only a couple of efforts from Wood tested the goalkeeper while at the other end they did force a good save from Nick Pope with a shot that took a deflection.
Sean Dyche: I travel across the country with my kid playing football and I’m watching 14-year-olds diving all over the place
Long before the end it looked as though it would end 0-0 and so it did, but not before the main talking point which came when Huddersfield substitute Rajiv van La Parra went down in the box. From my viewpoint some considerable distance away I waited with baited breath to see whether referee Chris Kavanagh was going to point to the spot or not.
At least four Burnley players were pointing fingers at him and the referee agreed with them, booking the Dutchman for simulation. Having seen it since, it really is a shocking case of cheating and I have to agree with Sean Dyche that the new rule has not done enough because he gets away with this other than a yellow card.
“I travel across the country with my kid playing football and I’m watching 14-year-olds diving all over the place. Where do they get it from? They copy players,” Dyche fumed.
“Absolutely agree Sean, it needs to be stamped out,” said Gary Lineker on Match of the Day while on Sky, Iain Dowie described the player’s actions as outrageous and disgraceful.
So, not the most exciting of games but any reporting of it with no mention of Steven Defour would be absolutely wrong. Not many noticed it, and certainly haven’t commented on it, but he played the full ninety minutes yesterday for only the second time in the Premier League.
I was critical at times last season, but this is a different Defour entirely and his performance yesterday stood alongside any I’ve seen from a Burnley player in the Premier League, and in a game where it was so difficult to shine.
I’ve referred to it before, but when he signed, a poster on the message board claimed he would be the signing that would keep us up last season. We’ve stayed up and now he’s a player who, hopefully, is helping to take us to the next level. He was simply outstanding.
Everton next and, at least, a game where the opposition won’t be in such a defensive mood.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield (Johann Berg Gudmundsson 77), Jeff Hendrick (Ashley Barnes 74), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Adam Legzdins, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ashley Westwood, Sam Vokes.
Yellow Cards: Jack Cork, Scott Arfield, James Tarkowski.
Huddersfield: Jonas Lössl, Tommy Smith, Mathias Jorgensen, Christopher Schindler, Chris Löwe, Jonathan Hogg (Philip Billing 80), Aaron Mooy, Elias Kachunga (Florent Hadergjonaj 89), Abdelhamid Sabiri (Rajiv van La Parra 63), Tom Ince, Laurent Depoitre. Subs not used: Rob Green, Scott Malone, Dean Whitehead, Michael Hefele.
Yellow Cards: Abdelhamid Sabiri, Rajiv van La Parra.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester).
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