Clarets still can’t find that first win
Yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at home against Arsenal has left us in 19th place in the Premier League with just one point from the opening five games and only Norwich City below us in the table.
It was another afternoon of what might have been against as poor an Arsenal side as we’ve played in the Premier League era, but a combination of not keeping clean sheets and not scoring many goals is holding us back and will continue to do so until such time as both can be rectified.
We haven’t beaten Arsenal at home in a league game since 1973. That was a 2-1 victory when Ray Hankin and Colin Waldron scored second half goals after John Radford had given the Gunners an early lead. The only home win since was the night Kevin McDonald scored twice against them on a foul night, weather wise, in the League Cup back in 2008.
We’ve always joked about teams like Arsenal not enjoying a visit to Burnley in adverse weather conditions but it was anything but that yesterday with the sun shining and the temperatures high for the time of year.
In a first half that often showed the lack of confidence from both teams, chances were few and far between, but they were there. Arsenal had the first of them when Nick Pope did well to keep out a ball in from Kieran Tierney before seeing Nicolas Pépé put the rebound wide.
Ashley Barnes had two half chances for the Clarets with neither coming to anything and in a dour first half it was Arsenal who just about looked the most likely although, in truth, they’d not really threatened.
That’s what happened on the half hour, and it was a goal littered with Burnley errors. It all started when Pope kicked the ball out of play but that should not have led to what happened next. When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed the attention of both our central defenders it left space for Bukayo Saka to run into.
Martin Ødegaard took the free kick. It went over the hardly jumping wall and into the net. Arsenal were in front, a lead they did not surrender.
There was no real response from us and the closest we came to a second goal during the first half was right on half time when Emile Smith Rowe failed to find the target after the ball had been played to him from the right.
We couldn’t really complain at the half time score but there was an improvement early in the second half although without too much goal threat. We needed a lift, and it came on 57 minutes with a double substitution. The second of the changes saw Matěj Vydra replace Barnes. The introduction of Vydra is always one to get the Turf Moor crowd to its feet but it was the first of the changes that lifted the whole place when Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson gave way to debutant Maxwel Cornet.
Then came the penalty that wasn’t. Ben White (has this bloke really cost them £50 million?) left his back pass short and Ramsdale brought down Vydra. Taylor pointed to the spot, and we just waited for Lee Mason on VAR duty to rubber stamp it. No, he invited Taylor to take another look at it after which he reversed his decision.
Ramsdale had touched the ball and, for what it’s worth, I thought he got the decision correct eventually even though I’m not sure how on earth he restarted with a dropped ball. I complained enough, and rightly so, when then inept pair of Rob Jones and Michael Oliver somehow contrived to allow Leeds a penalty against us last season at Elland Road. That wasn’t a penalty in my view, and neither was this.
There was always this uneasy feeling that Arsenal might get a second, but they didn’t, and it was then a matter of whether we could find an equaliser. We came close a couple of times, the last of them right at the end when Jay Rodriguez, on for Chris Wood, headed a Cornet cross off target.
So, Arsenal go home with all three points, and they’ll be thankful for them because this was not a good performance from our visitors. They are very definitely not a good side any longer despite spending around £150 million during the summer transfer window.
My concern is Burnley. We’ve already set ourselves up for potentially another relegation battle with this start and with trips to Leicester and Manchester City in the next three games, things could get more difficult if we are not careful.
More than anything else we have got to start finding some clean sheets. We are never going to be prolific goalscorers at this level, although that needs to improve, but the facts are we have now kept his two clean sheets in the last 18 games.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Maxwel Cornet 57), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes (Matěj Vydra 57), Chris Wood (Jay Rodriguez 82). Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Phil Bardsley, Nathan Collins, Erik Pieters, Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon.
Yellow Cards: Ashley Barnes, Ashley Westwood.
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel, Kieran Tierney (Nuno Tavares 78), Thomas Partey (Ainsley Maitland-Niles 75), Nicolas Pépé, Emile Smith Rowe (Albert Sambi Lokonga 61), Martin Ødegaard, Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Subs not used: Bernd Leno, Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Pablo Marí, Gabriel Martinelli, Alexandre Lacazette.
Yellow Card: Nuno Tavares.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe).