It went Leicester’s way on Filbert Way
For only the second time this season we failed to score away from home a goal away from home and for only the second time we came home with a defeat after going down 1-0 to Leicester City yesterday at the King Power Stadium.
The only goal of the game was certainly a poor one from our point of view. A nothing ball into the box from Riyad Mahrez evaded both central defenders, leaving Nick Pope to parry the ball right into the path of Demarai Gray who could hardly miss.
We recovered well and for the remainder of the first half at least we were much the better side and should have at least drawn level, but the biggest blow of all may well have come around the half hour mark when Robbie Brady went down with a knee injury and left the field on a stretcher.
Outstanding at Bournemouth last Wednesday, he was certainly looking our most dangerous player again and was heading for another man of the match performance but, if early indicators are accurate, we could now be without him for some considerable time.
There’s no doubt it affected our performance. Despite being a goal behind, we were by some distance the better of the two teams up to that point. He and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson have really taken our play to another level in recent games. Scott Arfield came on for him and no matter which way you look at things, Arfield is a totally different type and Brady’s departure lost us a lot of our attacking threat.
Still behind at half time, it allowed Leicester to come out in the second half and, as manager Sean Dyche said after the game, play the way they like to on the counter although even then we might still have got something from it.
After the long, almost tortuous journey home from Bournemouth, it was plain sailing down to Leicester via pick ups in Yorkshire and down the M1. It’s good having our food and drink planner on the trips too and he found us a more than suitable hostelry no more than two miles from the ground.
We were still parked up for the game early so decided to take the short walk to the old ground at Filbert Street, no more than five minutes walk away. The stands are gone, I don’t think the grass has been cut since their last match there, a 2-1 win against Spurs in 2002, the same opponents they beat by the same score at the King Power while we were at Bournemouth.
It was another misjudgement at the turnstiles I’m afraid. I thought getting into the queue at 2:35 p.m. would be more than adequate but it was a late push to get in on time and I’m sure a good number of Burnley fans missed kick off.
It was sad to see a huge expanse of empty seats to our right. These were seats that we opted not to take with Leicester clearly not having sold them. They were generally out of range for the television cameras so the Premier League and the broadcasters wouldn’t have been too concerned.
It was same again for Burnley. We knew Matt Lowton would be unfit and it was a close call for Steven Defour who, thankfully, did make it and was able to continue his partnership with Jack Cork.
The game had hardly got started when the goal went in. It may well have been a mistake from Nick Pope, of which there have been precious few since he came into the first team, but it is worth noting that he certainly didn’t allow it to affect his performance and he went on, otherwise, to have a good game.
And neither did the goal knock back our performance. We took the game to Leicester and were by some distance the better team for the majority of the first half. The pattern was set with both Brady and Guðmundsson prominent and there were certainly chances for us to draw level, the best of them falling to Chris Wood against his former club, but the striker’s header missed the target.
James Tarkowski also headed wide and Kasper Schmeichel saved well from Guðmundsson but the big blow to our hopes was just around the corner. When Guðmundsson and Jeff Hendrick combined to play in Brady it looked as though we might get an equaliser but as Brady looked to shoot he did no more than kick at Harry Maguire.
Both players went down injured as referee Paul Tierney who, along with his assistants, struggled to get a decision correct all afternoon, blew for a Leicester free kick. Maguire was finally able to get to his feet but for Brady it meant a stretcher and potentially a long term injury.
It was a blow to us in this game, it will be a bigger blow for us going forward if the early diagnosis proves to be correct, but a massive blow to the player who has simply been in outstanding form in recent weeks and probably turned in his best ever Burnley performance in the midweek win at Bournemouth.
Scott Arfield was his replacement but, no matter how well he might play, Arfield is not the same kind of player as Brady and we knew that wonderful ability the Irishman has would immediately be missed.
Even so, we remained the better side for the remainder of that first half and could count ourselves very unfortunate to go into the interval with a one goal deficit.
It was a much more even affair in the second half when, at times, we had to take some risks, particularly in the latter stages. Phil Bardsley cleared one Leicester effort off the bar while our best chance fell to Guðmundsson. He started it himself, bringing the ball out of defence, but it was the superb pass from Hendrick that sent him clear as he moved forward. Maybe he shot just too early but he saw his effort blocked by the feet of Schmeichel after a great counter attacking move by the Clarets.
Dyche sent on first Ashley Barnes and then Sam Vokes to try and force an equaliser but that allowed Leicester the opportunity to create a couple of chances themselves with Gray denied a second by the post.
It really wasn’t our day and the worst part of it, undoubtedly, is the loss of Brady just as he was beginning to show everyone why we broke our transfer record for him last January.
But I’m sure we’d have all taken three points from these two away games; I’d have happily settled for two draws, and we are still in a very good position on 25 points. And there is no doubt that we’ll win games this season when we don’t play as well as we did yesterday.
There were times when we didn’t help ourselves, the goal being the obvious one, but overall this was not a bad performance and it’s just a shame we couldn’t get something when no one could deny we deserved a draw, particularly given our first half performance.
It’s back home for two games now, the first of them against a Watford side who, probably alongside us, are the most surprising this season and currently sit just one place and three points below us.
The teams were;
Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Harry Maguire, Wes Morgan, Ben Chilwell, Riyad Mahrez, Vicente Iborra, Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi, Marc Albrighton, Demarai Gray (Shinji Okazaki 88), Jamie Vardy. Subs not used: Ben Hamer, Christian Fuchs, Aleksandar Dragovic, Andy King, Kelechi Iheanacho, Leonardo Ulloa.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Steven Defour (Ashley Barnes 66), Jack Cork, Robbie Brady (Scott Arfield 31), Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood (Sam Vokes 74). Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood.
Yellow Cards: Phil Bardsley, Ben Mee.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan).
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