The Burnley we know and love
Liverpool came from behind to beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor last night, a third successive home defeat for the Clarets that keeps us next to bottom of the Premier League with 15 games gone.
We’ve lost five of our seven home games this season; our only win at the Turf came on 22nd September against Bournemouth. We really need to find the winning formula soon or we will continue to be in serious trouble at the bottom end of the table.
That all but ends the negativity in this report because last night’s performance, if not the result, was all about the Burnley we have got so used to seeing in previous seasons. “We no longer play like a Dyche side,” was something said to me over the Palace weekend. Last night we played very much like a Dyche side and we came ever so close to getting a result that would have lifted us above both Huddersfield and Southampton and out of the bottom three.
It had been a miserable, damp day in town and while some of us got wet making our way down to the ground it was certainly worse for others with traffic problems for those travelling to Burnley via Rawtenstall and Haslingden with seemingly a good number missing kick off.
For those of us there early enough, it was a wait for the team news with suggestions from the manager that there might be changes. We all expected one with Steven Defour ruled out with injury but I don’t think many of us could have expected five. Ashley Westwood returned for Defour but there were recalls for Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Robbie Brady and Ashley Barnes at the expense of Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Aaron Lennon and Jeff Hendrick.
Liverpool made changes of their own, seven from the team that had started against Everton, but this was still a very strong looking Liverpool side and an expensively built one at that, one that was looking to close the gap on Manchester City at the top to two points.
What we needed more than anything else was a better, more passionate performance than we’d seen at Palace and that’s exactly what we got. In the first half, I thought we were every bit as good as our opponents. Chris Wood should have got an early shot away, Phil Bardsley led the way with some old fashioned tackling that apparently Jürgen Klopp, obviously keen on a non-contact sport, didn’t like and we pressed them and worked our socks off as our team usually does.
Midway through the first half, Liverpool had to replace the injured Joe Gomez. Klopp didn’t like that either but there was no foul, nothing wrong with what Ben Mee did and the injury was just unfortunate.
It was a terrific first half from us and we even thought we’d got in front for a couple of seconds. Brady’s free kick into the box was met by Barnes who hammered home a superb volley past Alisson. Unfortunately, the assistant’s flag had already gone up for offside. No arguments, it was the correct decision and television pictures showed we had at least three players, including Barnes, offside when the kick was taken.
There have been a lot of groans recently at home games, and plenty of moans too, but the roar that went up at half time as the players left the field was a reminder of what it can be like at the Turf when things are just that little bit better, both on and off the pitch.
We knew we would have another difficult 45 minutes to contend with and we knew if things went wrong for Liverpool they would just throw on the likes of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, but they’d been in a battle in that first half and knew it.
Liverpool did step it up early in the second half and actually forced Joe Hart into a couple of saves, one of them routine but the other excellent to keep out the diminutive Naby Keita. But when the first goal came it was the home stands that rose to salute it.
It all came from a corner on the right taken by Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson. It was met by Tarkowski. Wood tried to get on the end of his header but didn’t quite get a touch. Barnes did though and knocked it straight at Alisson but Jack Cork was lurking and tucked the loose ball home from just inside the six yard box.
Oh my word, Liverpool didn’t like it. They surrounded referee Stuart Attwell, another player went to the assistant. There is a hint of offside with Wood but they seemed to be suggesting there had been a foul. There hadn’t, there clearly hadn’t, unless you spotted Trent Alexander-Arnold trying to pull at Tarky. We were in front.
It was just a shame that we couldn’t hold that lead a little bit longer than we did. James Milner equalised eight minutes later with a shot from outside the box and a further seven minutes on we fell behind when Firmino, with his first touch, scored from close range after Virgil van Dijk got to a free kick.
You sensed then it might be another defeat and it would have been three but for some miraculous defending with two Hart saves, one block and eventually Bardsley clearing off the line.
So, another defeat, but this time the players left to an amazing ovation. The home fans knew exactly what they’d got and responded. If, and it is if, we can continue to play like that then we will be more than good enough to move away from the bottom three. Saturday will be different, goodness knows what Klopp makes of the way Brighton play if he didn’t like our style, although at least he didn’t come charging onto the pitch when the final goal was scored.
Another defeat, sadly, but this really was so much more like the Burnley we know and love. Let’s have more of it, lots more of it, both on the pitch and in the stands.
The teams were;
Burnley: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Robbie Brady (Aaron Lennon 71), Ashley Barnes (Matěj Vydra 83), Chris Wood (Sam Vokes 71). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Jeff Hendrick.
Yellow Card: Matěj Vydra.
Liverpool: Alisson, Joe Gomez (Trent Alexander-Arnold 23), Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Alberto Moreno (Mo Salah 65), Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Divock Origi (Roberto Firmino 66), Daniel Sturridge. Subs not used: Simon Mignolet, Rafael Camacho, Fabinho, Adam Lallana.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton).
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