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1718 burnley turf moor 03 1000x500Burnley go into Christmas on the back of a 3-0 home defeat against Tottenham Hotspur, our heaviest home defeat in not far short of seven years, and a result that, despite a number of contentious decisions, we can hardly complain about.

Quite simply, Tottenham were better than us for much of the game and in Harry Kane they had the one player who eventually made the difference by scoring all three goals.

Things might well have been different, however, had Dele Alli seen red from referee Michael Oliver rather than yellow for an early challenge on Charlie Taylor, or had he been sent off for a second yellow for simulation when he won an early penalty.

The FA won’t be suspending him for deceiving a match official but that was a blatant dive in my book from a player who would not have been playing in this game had referee Craig Pawson carried out his duties correctly last week, and for that matter neither would Kane or Jan Vertonghen.

Oliver got that horribly wrong in his ‘look at me’ performance and he was no better in the second half when he so wrongly ruled out a Sam Vokes goal while turning away a proper penalty appeal for a foul on Ashley Barnes. Those decisions weren’t result defining, the game had long gone by then as far as we were concerned, but poor decisions all the same.

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It was an earlier than usual departure for me yesterday, earlier than it would be for a 3 p.m. kick off and it was to be a day of mixed emotions. Jo Cunningham, a very good friend of mine and a fellow Claret, passed away in September at the age of 50. I’d known her for around 20 years and a group of us met up for a drink in her memory ahead of the game along with her husband Steve (or Nobber as we often call him), who gave up watching his own team Preston to be with us, and her son Harry.

We were all present and correct which is more than can be said for the players Sean Dyche had available to him. You’d expect all of Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady and Chris Wood to be in our strongest line up. With one of them out suspended, three out injured and one on his way back from injury, only Wood started and he came off before half time with an injury following what looked like a collision with Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Spurs included the three players who should have all been out suspended in what looked a very strong team and, even without the helping hand from Oliver, they played us better than any other team has done for some considerable time.

Those first two helping hands came very early. Alli was yellow carded for the challenge on Taylor in only the 4th minute and Spurs were in front on 7 minutes when Kane dispatched the penalty awarded for a supposed foul by Kevin Long on Alli. Sean Dyche said there was gamesmanship; Alli blatantly cheated.

Who knows? 0-0 with well over 80 minutes remaining and 11 v 10, it could have been different. But we didn’t get that chance and, once in front, there really was only going to be one winner here, so much better than us were they.

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They totally dominated the opening 25 minutes or so, and when we did finally offer some threat Spurs broke quickly and should have doubled their lead. It all came from our corner but they broke so quickly and twice Nick Pope denied Moussa Sissoko with his feet when I’m not sure there were many in the ground who weren’t expecting a goal.

We did get into things during the latter stages of the first half but then were hit with more problems. Serge Aurier gave the ball away to Wood who played the ball left to Steven Defour, again our best player. The Belgians low cross was met by Wood who clashed with Lloris and stayed down. He continued for a short time after treatment but then went down again and was replaced by Ashley Barnes.

We could really have no complaints at the half time score of 1-0, but we could have complaints at referee Oliver who got off the pitch very quickly with Dyche marching up behind him and abuse directed at him from most areas of Turf Moor.

Nothing improved in the second half. Kane missed a chance to double the Spurs lead and then Son Heung-min missed what could only be described as a sitter when his effort flew way over the bar when he looked a certain scorer.

I thought we were just starting to get back into it a little, and at 1-0 anything can happen, when Kane went through one on one. He was never going to miss this one and when that went in they had made absolutely sure of the points.

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Kane got another to complete his hat trick on a miserable day for us, but how on earth Oliver saw fit to disallow the Vokes goal is beyond me. Needless to say, Match of the Day didn’t bother showing it, neither did they show the Barnes foul that I thought was a penalty. “Michael Oliver, it’s all about you,” the angry Burnley fans sang but, refereeing decisions apart, we were second best by some considerable distance and it was Spurs who moved up to fifth in the table rather than us.

It’s our heaviest home defeat in the Premier League since losing to Liverpool 4-0 in May 2010, and, incredibly, we have not lost a home game by three goals since March 2011 when two Paul Robinson goals and one from Andros Townsend gave Millwall a 3-0 win at the Turf, that some 19 months before Dyche became our manager.

The day ended in disappointment, no doubt about that, but we have to put things into perspective. We were playing one of the better teams in the division and, no matter how well we’ve played this season, that will always mean a tough game. When teams like that play well, for us to get anything out of the game becomes very difficult.

It’s Christmas Day tomorrow. We are seventh in the Premier League. We’ve won 49 Premier League points in 2017. It would be nice to get past 50 in the two remaining games, but it has been a remarkable time for us.

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I hate the phrase ‘shows how far we’ve come’ but I did think it would be interesting to look back at the pre-Christmas games in years past.

5 years ago
Birmingham 2 Burnley 2 – a wonderful Danny Ings goal and a superb free kick from Ross Wallace – 14th in the Championship
10 years ago
Ipswich 0 Burnley 0 – John Spicer sent off by Phil Dowd – 9th in the Championship
20 years ago
Fulham 1 Burnley 0 – last minute Friday night goal in front of the Sky cameras – 23rd in Division 2
30 years ago
Cardiff 2 Burnley 1 – Steve Davis (Mark 1) gave us a 1-0 half time lead – 15th in Division 4
44 years ago
Manchester City 2 Burnley 0 – last time we were higher at Christmas than we are today – 3rd in Division 1

Turkey and party hats next, then it’s Old Trafford on Boxing Day. I’m looking forward to it.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield (Nahki Wells 86), Jeff Hendrick (Sam Vokes 71), Chris Wood (Ashley Barnes 35). Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Matt Lowton, Ashley Westwood, Jon Walters.
Yellow Card: Steven Defour.

Tottenham: Hugo Lloris, Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Jan Vertonghen, Ben Davies, Eric Dier (Erik Lamela 83), Moussa Sissoko, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli (Fernando Llorente 87), Son Heung-min (Mousa Dembélé 78), Harry Kane. Subs not used: Michel Vorm, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Juan Foyth.
Yellow Cards: Dele Alli, Moussa Sissoko.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance: 21,650 (including 2,366 from Spurs).

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