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Having recorded a blank for the first time since August last week with our 0-0 draw at Blackpool, it was back to the Burnley we’ve come to expect yesterday in front of goal as we saw off bottom of the league Wigan Athletic with a 3-0 victory at the Turf.

Two goals from Nathan Tella, to take his total to fourteen in the league this season, a total currently only bettered by Middlesbrough’s Chuba Akpom and Coventry striker Viktor Gyökeres, and a third scored by Lyle Foster, his first for the Clarets, was more than enough to see off a side who had to play over an hour with ten men after Omar Rekik was sent off.

Playing Wigan doesn’t often fill me with too much confidence. I know we won there 5-1 earlier in the season, our first ever victory at Wigan, but our record against them is not good. Prior to this season, we’d beaten them just three times in twenty league games and we’d also been knocked out of cup competitions twice by them.

Our first ever meeting against them back in 1983 at home ended in a 3-0 win with goals from Brian Flynn, Tommy Hutchison and Kevin Reeves. Graham Branch, a half time guest yesterday, scored in a 1-0 win in 2004/05 and on their last visit we won 2-0 to clinch promotion to the Premier League when Ashley Barnes scored his first Turf Moor goal and Michael Kightly scored from a free kick.

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I really shouldn’t get hung up on these sort of stats but historically there are teams we do struggle to beat and others where it comes more easily and for whatever reason, it seems to continue year on year.

I arrived early yesterday to collect tickets for the Manchester City cup tie and without success. Having been sent from one place to another, there was to be no success which will mean having to arrange to meet friends at the Etihad turnstiles. Despite only having to travel a couple of miles from home, it was almost like a different climate. Having had to get through the drifted snow at home, it was absolutely clear around the Turf, no suggestion that we’d had a couple of bad days.

As I walked down Harry Potts Way, the media circus with several TV cameras was there covering the arrival of J J Watt, the recently retired NFL player who spent nine years with Houston Texans before playing his final two seasons for Arizona Cardinals. There with his wife Kealia who plays football (not the American game) and has three caps for the United States. A self-confessed Chelsea fan, he’s reportedly looking to invest in Burnley and was accompanied, in the absence of the chairman, by Director of Fan Experience Russell Ball, himself a Brighton fan.

We knew there would have to be at least one change from the team that had drawn at Blackpool following the injury sustained to Josh Brownhill. That injury brought a change to our ground too with the removal of the black sheeted area just over the touchline in front of the Longside.

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Ian Maatsen, who has missed the last couple of games, was back, and Maatsen for Brownhill was the only change with a bit of shuffling of the line up required that saw Vitinho move from left back to a wide position on the right, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson play in a deeper position with Tella having that free role which seemed to send him everywhere.

Omens? Apart from Wigan’s decent record at the Turf, the last time we lost a home game at this level, Will Keane scored for Preston. He’s Wigan’s leading goalscorer this season but he was on the bench so there was, at least, going to be no early goal for him.

If we needed a good start, we got it. As we took the game to Wigan, they seemed to have no answer to us. Anass Zaroury fired a right foot shot against the bar and two minutes later he provided a left wing cross every bit as good as the one from which Ashley Barnes scored against Blackburn, this time for Tella to head home expertly.

Zaroury’s shot came after Barnes had gone down in the box but the goal started when Vitinho won it back with a back heel on the right touchline. From there we worked it across to the left, which included a nice turn from Guðmundsson. It finally reached Zaroury who got the better of ex-Claret Tendayi Darikwa. His left foot cross was perfect for Tella to head home right into the corner of the net.

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By then, Wigan’s Omar Rekik had been yellow carded for a foul on Tella and that proved to be significant. They were struggling to contain Tella and he might have scored again when he got clear on the right. His last touch took him just a little wider than he’d have liked and his shot across goal went just wide of the post.

As we approached the half hour, Barnes played a delightful ball forward for him. Despite having some ground to make up, Tella’s pace took him past Rekik who brought him down. It earned him a second yellow card. He didn’t look too happy with the decision and had to be pushed away from the referee by his captain Darikwa. Both of the cards were correct decisions and his own manager Shaun Maloney said after the game that he had no issue with either of the two decisions.

A goal down, a man down, and soon after that they needed Ben Amos to save well from an Ian Maatsen right foot shot. Then, as so often happens after a red card, the team a player down had their best spell of the game.

Twice they could have levelled the scores and twice we were thankful to Arijanet Muric who made two outstanding saves. Former England international had been introduced following the red card, replacing Josh Magennis who had appeared only interested in the dark arts of the game, It was Caulker who forced the first big save from Muric, denying his close range header superbly.

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Right on half time, Hjalmar Ekdal got it all wrong on the right hand touchline. Yes, he got a push from Ashley Fletcher but the Wigan player looked a certain scorer until Muric made another outstanding save. He’s oft spoken about is Muric but not often for his basic goalkeeping skills, more for his ability as an almost eleventh outfield player. Here, twice, he’d shown us how good a traditional goalkeeper he is.

A goal up at half time, it probably should have been a bigger lead but could so easily have been no lead at all. We were playing well again and I felt a second goal would ensure victory.

It didn’t take too long for the second goal to come. In the first minute of the half, Zaroury turned and twisted before seeing his cross headed out for a corner on the right. Taken by Guðmundsson, it was met by Jordan Beyer who flicked it forward for Tella to head home. Two for Tella, two for Burnley and surely the game just about won.

For the remainder of the half it was a case of whether we would score any more goals with Wigan offering no threat at all. Zaroury shot just wide with an effort across goal and Barnes just couldn’t get the ball down quickly enough to get a shot in. Wigan defended in numbers; beaten they were doing all they could to keep the score down as much as anything.

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Wigan made a few changes; we made five in all, two just past the hour, that saw Jack Cork and Lyle Foster come on. One of them scored and the other went very close.

The third, and what was the last, goal came with just under a quarter of an hour to go. Zaroury received the ball out on the left touchline and came inside before playing a terrific ball into the box for Michael Obafemi, who had been on the pitch for just a couple of minutes. He knocked it back for Foster, from a tight angle, hammered home a first time left foot shot for his first Burnley goal.

With snow starting to fall, and the temperature dropping, it was now whether we could get ourselves any more goals. We didn’t; we settled for three and another very comfortable win after another very good performance as news came in that Sheffield United had been beaten, some comfort for those who are still nervous of our promotion prospects.

Three more goals. That’s the thirteenth time we’ve scored three or more goals in a league game this season. We’ve scored 71 in total. The last time we scored that many in the first 36 league games of a season was in 1965/66 when Willie Irvine and Andy Lochhead were leading the way. It was 71 then too; the last time we’d scored more was four years earlier. We’d scored an astonishing 97 goals then.

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Vincent Kompany said he wanted goals and that he wanted the spread across the team. Yesterday, I believe, with Foster’s goal, we created a club record in having nineteen different players score for us in one league season, beating the eighteen recorded twelve years ago.

I was asked yesterday who the players were. I’m not sure whether they meant those in 2010/11 or those in 2022/23 but here are both.

2010/11: Chris Iwelumo, Clarke Carlisle, Ross Wallace, Graham Alexander, Jay Rodriguez, Andre Bikey, Chris Eagles, Dean Marney, Martin Paterson, Jack Cork, Tyrone Mears, Brian Easton, John Guidetti, Steven Thompson, Nathan Delfouneso, Michael Duff, Wade Elliott, Chris McCann.

2022/23: Ian Maatsen, Josh Brownhill, Jay Rodriguez, Nathan Tella, Samuel Bastien, Vitinho, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Manuel Benson, Connor Roberts, Anass Zaroury, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Halil Dervişoğlu, Ashley Barnes, Josh Cullen, Jordan Beyer, Scott Twine, Hjalmar Ekdal, Michael Obafemi, Lyle Foster.

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It seems we are setting or equalling new records almost every game and the really important one is the number of points showing in the league table. It’s reached eighty now. Since we went to three points for a win in 1981 we’ve only ever reached that total on five other occasions, all of them promotion seasons. Three times we went on to win the league; the other two occasions we were runners up, but in none of those seasons were we anywhere near eighty after this number of games.

Our previous manager used to talk about us being relentless. Whatever has changed at Burnley in the last year, and much has, we are still very much relentless and long may that last with hopefully more wins and more of this outstanding football from us.

The moment our promotion  is confirmed is getting closer but for now there are trips to Hull and Manchester City to look forward to. And did I really use the words look forward and Manchester City in the same sentence?

The teams were;

Burnley: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Hjalmar Ekdal, Jordan Beyer, Ian Maatsen, Josh Cullen (Samuel Bastien 84), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Jack Cork 63), Vitinho (Michael Obafemi 74), Nathan Tella, Anass Zaroury (Halil Dervişoğlu 85), Ashley Barnes (Lyle Foster 63). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Ameen Al-Dakhil.
Yellow Card: Connor Roberts.

Wigan: Ben Amos, Tendayi Darikwa, Charlie Hughes, Omar Rekik, Ryan Nyambe, Tom Naylor, Max Power (Christ Tiéhi 67), Tom Pearce (James McClean 52), Josh Magennis (Steven Caulker 30), Callum Lang (Will Keane 67), Ashley Fletcher (Thelo Aasgaard 68). Subs not used: Jamie Jones, Danel Sinani.
Yellow Cards: Omar Rekik, Callum Lang, Tendayi Darikwa, James McClean.
Red Card: Omar Rekik.

Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire).

Attendance: 20,249.

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