A point for home draw specialists Burnley
Having drawn the three previous home games against Brighton & Hove Albion, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise that last night’s game against Leicester City also ended all square at 1-1.
We came back with a superb second half performance to get the point against Brighton which was the least we deserved and we possibly did enough against Fulham to get us more than the point. Both those games ended 1-1. Next were West Brom and I think enough has been said of that game but at least we did get a point.
Last night’s was different. Whereas the three previous opponents all currently sit below us in the Premier League table, Leicester are very much at the other end and had they beaten us would now be sitting second behind only runaway leaders Manchester City and at kick off had secured as many away points as any other team in the league, a total of 30, the same as Manchester City.
This was, undoubtedly, on paper, the most difficult of the four but against a Leicester side who the whole world has been telling us have been hit by injuries. Yes, they have, but so have virtually the rest of the Premier League and we all know that life hasn’t been easy for us in terms of picking teams this season with the injury list running from anything between manageable to out of control.
The recent West Brom game, which ended 0-0, broke one sequence at Turf Moor. In the previous seven home games in league and cup we’d gone 1-0 behind. We wanted to avoid that last night and we soon put that particular statistic to bed.
What a start we made. Ben Mee was inches away from giving us the lead in the very first minute but we didn’t have to wait long. It all came from a poor ball played back by Hamza Choudhury but then it was all about Matěj Vydra. He saw the opportunity, played the ball with his right foot to go past Wilfred Ndidi. That took him into the box where he took one more touch with his right foot before hammering a shot home past Kasper Schmeichel who didn’t have an earthly of keeping it out.
Vydra’s long wait for a Premier League goal was at an end. His last one came in the 27th game last season against Bournemouth and how he celebrated with his delighted team mates.
I thought, generally, we were doing well in the first half but we lost our lead to what can only be described as a superb finish from Kelechi Iheanacho. I know the experts will dissect it, they will tell us that a couple of our defenders weren’t where they should have been, that Pope shouldn’t have come off his line, but the finish, a left foot volley, after a long through ball from Ndidi was sublime.
I wondered how we would react to that but it took a fine save from Schmeichel to prevent us taking the lead. Goal line technology took a look at it but Schmeichel had gone down to his left to deny James Tarkowski, a superb save with the ball just about on the line.
That was about it for the first half. If anything, I thought we’d just had the edge but I was worried that Leicester, beaten only by Liverpool on their travels this season, could be the ones to step it up after the break. How wrong I was.
Very early in the second half he made an astonishing save to deny Wood who likes scoring against his former club and was at his very best last night. As soon as Wood headed it I screamed goal and still can’t believe the Danish international got to it.
He saved again from Wood but then it was the foot of the post that denied Ashley Westwood who shot from the corner of the box on the right, across to the far post only to see it come with inches of restoring the lead.
But as the half progressed, Leicester made changes and started to come back into things. There was a spell of a few minutes when I thought they got on top and was worried we might go on to lose the game. Thankfully, we held firm and they didn’t really create a chance of note and I did think we’d seen that threat off long before the end.
Four successive home draws. I didn’t need to think too long to determine when that last happened to us in the Premier League. It was the final four home games of the Owen Coyle era against Aston Villa, Fulham, Arsenal and Bolton although we’ve done that since in the Championship against Portsmouth and Cardiff in the final two home games of the 2010/11 season followed by Sean Dyche’s Watford and Cardiff again at the start of the next season.
As for these draws. This one, given the opposition, has to be viewed as the best of the four. It was hard to believe this was the same Burnley who had laboured in the previous home game then took a hammering at Spurs last Sunday. This was a Burnley that looked more than capable of getting enough points to be nowhere near the drop zone come the end of the season and let’s hope that is the case.
Let’s hope we don’t get another rush of injuries either, and on that front, what a superb return it was for Wood last night and that means also a mention for Vydra who I thought played as well as I’ve ever seen him play in a Premier League game.
Until we get a few more points we will continue to look over our shoulders but we are, I think, I hope, edging slowly but surely to safety.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Matěj Vydra (Jay Rodriguez 90+2). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Erik Pieters, Dale Stephens, Josh Benson, Lewis Richardson.
Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Daniel Amartey, Wilfred Ndidi, Çaglar Söyüncü, Nampalys Mendy(Wesley Fofana 66), Ricardo Pereira, Hamza Choudhury (Sidnei Tavares 77), Youri Tielemans, Timothy Castagne, Kelechi Iheanacho (Marc Albrighton 67), Jamie Vardy. Subs not used: Danny Ward, Cengiz Ünder, Christian Fuchs, Luke Thomas, Thakgalo Leshabela, Vontae Daley-Campbell.
Yellow Cards: Fofana, Ricardo Pereira.
Referee: Andy Madley (Ossett).