Bursting with pride after West Ham win
The Clarets have taken their points total to 49 in the Premier League with four games remaining after another 1-0 win on the road last night at West Ham United which came courtesy of a Jay Rodriguez goal and a team performance to leave every Burnley supporter bursting with pride.
Just about everything that could have gone against us has done since the restart with an injury list beyond anything I can recall to add to those players who are no longer available because of them coming to the end of their contracts. We’ve also seen the highlighting of the problems between chairman and manager which left you wondering whether this might just be the time when the wheels came off.
Not on your life. We went to the London Stadium with a squad shorn of the injured Matt Lowton, Ben Mee, Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes, with Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady and Chris Wood returning but only fit enough to take substitute places alongside a lot of inexperienced players. Yet, despite all this, we turned in another outstanding display to deny an expensively built West Ham side who are once again fighting for their lives towards the bottom of the table.
I’d like to say I’m getting used to watching us play on television but I wouldn’t be truthful if I did. Admittedly, the view I had last night was probably the best I’ve had in any of our four visits to the London Stadium and at least I was dry at the end when a long walk back to the underground station last night in the pouring rain would not have been particularly pleasant.
So, the Face Time group were gathered, the cup of tea was ready, and we got the hardly surprising news that the team was unchanged from that which had drawn with Sheffield United. Given there was precious little to change it with, that was no surprise at all but it was again a team that included Kevin Long alongside acting James Tarkowski in the centre of defence, only his second start of the season, and Erik Pieters again in midfield to the side of most recent signing Josh Brownhill who is still getting used to playing Premier League football.
We’ve played in the green kit in each of the two previous away games; it was refreshing last night to see that the Premier League had blocked us wearing it and we looked much more like Burnley playing away in a white kit which, and this is just my opinion, looked the best of the four we’ve worn this season.
Nine days earlier, we’d dominated the first half in our 1-0 win at Crystal Palace. It wasn’t quite like that this time but we started really well and twice might have got ourselves in front. Matěj Vydra expertly played the ball back for Pieters who couldn’t find his FA Cup shooting boots and fired over. Vydra himself saw a header saved by Lukasz Fabianski and then got through on the left hand side but just couldn’t get a shot in.
There is no doubt that this wasn’t one way stuff though and we were soon indebted to Nick Pope on two occasions when he saved firstly from Tomáš Souček and then Michail Antonio. Apart from that, he was largely untroubled because of some outstanding work in front of him from the defence who did what this Burnley team do, got back in numbers, defended brilliantly and got their blocks in.
With half time beckoning, Antonio missed West Ham’s best chance of the half. Clear on goal, with just Pope to beat, his shot clipped the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick. It came just a minute or so after Jay Rod had given us the lead.
Alan Shearer, on Match of the Day, heaped praise on our team performance and described both the ball in from Taylor and Jay’s header as fantastic, and he knew a thing or two about goalscoring.
Overall, I thought we were fully deserving of the half time lead but suspected we might be put under a bit of pressure after the break. We were, West Ham had a lot of the ball, but I’m not so sure they threatened to score too often.
Probably the best chance they had fell to substitute Sebastien Haller with what was his first touch having replaced Andriy Yarmolenko just past the hour. French striker Haller, who cost 100 times more than we paid for Ashley Barnes, saw his effort saved superbly again by Pope’s outstretched leg.
Our substitute Chris Wood, who had replaced Vydra just a few minutes before Haller was introduced, came even closer. He actually got the ball in the net from a Phil Bardsley cross only to have it ruled out, correctly, for offside although it was a close call.
It’s remarkable. Sean Dyche has always said that minimum requirement is maximum effort but what we are getting from our lads right now is way beyond that. We are playing some terrific football too besides defending well.
That was a 14th clean sheet this season, two more than our previous best in a Premier League season. We’ve won 14 times, one more win will be a record and how good would it be if we could just get another six points to set a new points tally record. It will be tough, but I’m not putting anything beyond these players right now.
It was also the first time we’ve done the double over West Ham since our 1946/47 promotion season. We beat them 2-1 at home that season and then won 5-0 at the Boleyn Ground to clinch promotion at the end of May, an away result that has been equalled just once since in January 2016.
“Bursting with pride,” I wrote. I’m sure every Burnley fan is right now and it’s another tough one this Saturday, probably as tough as they come.
The teams were;
West Ham: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Tomáš Souček, Declan Rice, Andriy Yarmolenko (Sebastien Haller 62), Pablo Fornels (Albian Ajeti 86), Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio. Subs not used: Darren Randolph, Ben Johnson, Arthur Masuaku, Fabián Balbuena, Jack Wilshere, Mark Noble, Manuel Lanzini.
Yellow Card: Ryan Fredericks.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Erik Pieters, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra (Chris Wood 58). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Anthony Glennon, Mace Goodridge, Josh Benson, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady, Max Thompson.
Yellow Card: James Tarkowski.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
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