For almost half of the game at Leicester things seemed to be going to plan, but goals either side of half time killed that and the second half became a difficult watch for Burnley fans as we fell to a second successive 3-0 away defeat.
Sean Dyche described it as four minutes of madness with both of the goals having a dramatic effect on the game. To concede an opener in first half stoppage time changes all the plans for the second and to come out and almost immediately concede a second is always going to make things very difficult against a side who we had previously done so well to contain.
Dyche also pointed to the source for each of those goals. The first one was down to a ridiculous free kick given away by Matt Lowton. We should have been seeing things out with the board already having gone up; there was no need to concede that free kick. And giving the ball away as Dean Marney did led to the second although I’m certainly not sure Jamie Vardy meant that flick that led to Algerian Islam Slimani scoring his second goal of the game.
Had there been a way back for us then, we certainly didn’t come close to finding the route. Admittedly Tom Heaton didn’t have too many saves to make in the second half and was only beaten by a Ben Mee own goal, but we looked a well beaten side by the time referee Anthony Taylor blew his final whistle.
It was a difficult day for a number of Burnley fans some hours before that second half with the usual traffic problems for those who opted for the M6 route. There were many Clarets racing in close to kick off having had a much longer journey than expected. Thankfully we hadn’t gone that way and were at the ground almost an hour before kick off.
It’s just under two years since we were last at the King Power but my word how the place has changed since our last visit. For those who had a media blackout last season, they are now champions of England and they are milking it, rightly so, for all it’s worth.
It’s always going to be a rare event for a club to break the cartel in the Premier League and go on to win it. It was an incredible achievement that had all English football transfixed in becoming the first club outside that top group to win the trophy without actually buying it.
What’s changed. Sadly, there is a level of arrogance now among some of their supporters but a real positive now is that they have one of the most respectful managers in English football. Inside the ground it is all flags and happy clapping now, something that was getting on my nerves even before the goals came.
I think we all remember Claudio Ranieri bringing out Andrea Bocelli onto the pitch last season. They play that now before the game with the video showing on the big screens. I’m no opera fan but I never tire of hearing Bocelli’s voice. It’s certainly a better pre-match than women in big balls and parachutists landing on the stand roof.
The big news from our dressing room was that of Sean Dyche making two changes to the team that had drawn with Hull a week earlier. Scott Arfield was back in for Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Jeff Hendrick was in for his full debut; the big surprise being the news that Sam Vokes was the player to stand down.
It was a sort of 4-5-1 but more like a 4-4-1-1 with Steven Defour in the advanced position. The plan, Dyche said, was to slow the tempo down and try to get possession and there is no doubt that it worked to an extent. We certainly nullified Leicester for much of the first half.
It looked good at times. We weren’t being put under any pressure at the back, one Riyad Mahrez run apart, we were moving the ball well in the midfield, George Boyd was looking the part, Hendrick was settling in well although Defour wasn’t having the best of afternoons. We got some dangerous balls into the box and I, wrongly as it turned out, thought we might just go on to win the game.
Our best chance fell to Defour with a header. I’m still not convinced he could have got enough on it given the way it looped up to him although Arfield had done well to get that initial header across. Within no time Leicester had their first real chance and fluffed it and then came that goal right on half time.
Why on earth Lowton took that option only he will know, but then it was about the superb delivery from Christian Fuchs with Slimani heading home. Half time in the dressing room, Dyche said, changed and so did the general comment in the stand. I think most would have been more than satisfied had we gone in level but I think we all knew that coming back might be a difficult task.
Difficult soon took on new proportions when Marney gave the ball away to Vardy just over two minutes into the second half. He found Mahrez whose cross found Slimani with a bit of good fortune with two clear deflections and I am certain Vardy cannot claim to have flicked it on intentionally.
As the ball nestled in the net, we all knew that was that and the second half really was difficult for us. We made changes. Arfield gave way to Gudmundsson and just past the hour Vokes got on for Defour.
But a third goal came. Mahrez got the ball in from the right which Mee inadvertently turned into his own goal. Everyone will talk about Mahrez. We saw two years ago what a good player he is and he showed it at times again, but we all, in discussion, picked out Marc Albrighton as their best player.
There was one last effort from Burnley with Gudmundsson’s free kick taking a deflection off the wall only for stand in goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler to save.
We were a well beaten side in the end and this 3-0 defeat was more worrying than the one at Chelsea. Then, despite us not being at our best, I thought Chelsea were superb. At Leicester, I thought that we were more than a match for them for almost half of the game. But once we’d given those goals away we had absolutely nothing to come back at them with and Leicester were easy winners.
It was the Leicester fans, including those who weren’t aware, given their chanting, that we’d ever been champions of England, who went home the happiest. We’ve got nine days before Watford arrive at Burnley for the first of three successive games being shown on Sky. I’m sure Dyche will return to his more favoured 4-4-2 but I do think he has some decisions to make on team selection.
Still, we can still do what none of Arsenal, Spurs, Leicester and Chelsea can’t do – beat Liverpool.
The teams were;
Leicester: Ron-Robert Zieler, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Christian Fuchs, Riyad Mahrez (Demarai Gray 85), Danny Drinkwater (Andy King 79), Daniel Amartey, Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy, Islam Slimani. Subs not used: Ben Hamer, Luis Hernandez, Ahmed Musa, Shinji Okazaki, Leo Ulloa.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Dean Marney, Jeff Hendrick, Scott Arfield (Johann Berg Gudmundsson 57), Steven Defour (Sam Vokes 64), Andre Gray (Patrick Bamford 79). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, James Tarkowski, Michael Kightly.
Yellow Card: Matt Lowton.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe).
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