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1920 burnley turf moor 04 1000x500Norwich City came to Burnley yesterday just a week after producing the shock result of the season so far with a 3-2 win against Manchester City, but they had no answer to the Clarets yesterday as two Chris Wood goals in the first 14 minutes gave us the most comfortable of home wins.

The newly promoted Canaries were architects of their own downfall with their constant desire to play the ball out from the back which allowed us to press them and put them under enormous pressure and that led to the early two goal lead that we never, ever really looked like losing.

It was a day also when, perhaps, two of our players who have come in for some criticism came to the fore with excellent performances. Frustrations have been growing that Chris Wood hasn’t scored since bagging a double since  the key 2-0 win against Cardiff last season and Jeff Hendrick, who got his first start of the season, followed up his match saving goal at Brighton last week with an excellent performance on the right of midfield having replaced Aaron Lennon in the starting eleven.

I was on the train between Brighton and London last week when news filtered through that Norwich had taken a 2-0 lead against Manchester City and then went on to win 3-2. It really was a shock result and with their next game against us it had you wondering just how much confidence they would have gained and whether it would help set them up for at least a first away point of the season.

The opening day of the season is often a day when the sun beats down on us, but when we kicked off six weeks ago against Southampton it was a horrible day of torrential rain. Since then we’ve found ourselves playing in some ridiculously high temperatures, firstly at Wolves, then Brighton and when Norwich arrived yesterday it was another incredibly hot day, in all likeliness the last such day for some time.

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We’d settled in for our pre-match refreshments when we got the news that Nick Pope had been sent home ill and wouldn’t play. There had been hints of team changes but this wasn’t one we were expecting. The story was half true; Pope had gone home ill on the Friday but at around 1:50 someone kindly photographed the team sheet on social media showing Pope in the team and a team that showed just that one change of Hendrick for Lennon with the two defenders who missed out last week, Kevin Long and Charlie Taylor, replacing Phil Bardsley and Ben Gibson on the bench.

Was this going to be a banana skin for us or was it going to be an after the Lord Mayor’s Show performance from Norwich? It was very definitely no banana skin and I’m not sure it was an after show from Norwich, I just think we outthought and outplayed them.

All the talk was of Norwich striker Teemu Pukki. Last season’s leading goalscorer in the Championship with 29 goals had already netted six times in the Premier League but he wasn’t the striker who grabbed the headlines in this match. He did have a good chance early in the game when he got clear after a mistake from James Tarkowski, probably Tarky’s only mistake of the day following is performance on A Question of Sport.

Pope saved really well with his feet but then we took command with two goals that owed so much to the quality of delivery into the box from the left alongside some great centre forward play from Wood.

The first came from a corner won when Sam Byram deflected a Dwight McNeil free kick out of play. Ashley Westwood’s flag kick was outstanding with Wood pulling back to get him the space to get in a firm header which gave Tim Krul, the Norwich goalkeeper no chance.

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Norwich’s response was to keep trying to play out from the back, a plan that constantly seemed to put them under pressure if not get them into trouble and it did just that four minutes later when we won the ball back through Jack Cork. He quickly moved the ball to McNeil who got to the byline before crossing brilliantly for Wood who had got in front of his defender and finished well with a left foot shot.

The visitors continued to just try and keep possession of the ball without doing much with it and their only real opportunity to get back into the game during the first half came when Hendrick lost the ball on the right hand side and it led to Mo Leitner, who had come on as a substitute, hammering a shot from some distance against Pope’s right hand post.

But, other than that, all the threat came from us. We might have had a couple of penalties although seeing them back I would think the referee got the decisions correct, Cork brought a superb save out of Krul after a perfect free kick from Westwood, Hendrick almost added a third from close range and Ashley Barnes got a blooded face in one incident that left him looking even more threatening than usual.

By half time there really didn’t appear to be any concerns as we went in with a 2-0 lead and, in truth, the second half didn’t ever really offer us any worries that Norwich might get back into things.

Leitner again offered the only real threat to us with a shot that bent just wide of goal, again coming from outside the box, but we could so easily have extended our lead. One superb move ended with Barnes shooting wide from the edge of the box and then Wood managed to get a shot on target after superb trickery from McNeil on the left hand side of the penalty area.

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Barnes, in search of a fifth goal of the season, was adamant he’d been fouled in the box but referee Coote, close and in a very good position, waved it away without a second thought. Barnes was right, Coote was very much wrong and I’d love someone to explain to me just why VAR didn’t intervene and award us a penalty. It was clear, it was obvious, it was an error from Coote, but Kevin Friend at Stockley Park opted to back Coote rather than correct the decision, and meanwhile Spurs, at Leicester, are getting a goal farcically disallowed because it is apparently offside by about a centimetre.

This game was over long before the end. Norwich had absolutely nothing left to offer. We brought on Aaron Lennon and Jay Rodriguez for McNeil and Barnes and then, right at the end, Robbie Brady made a return as replacement for Hendrick who had gone down with an injury. What a reception Hendrick received from the Burnley fans too. It was much deserved.

Was this after the Lord Mayor’s Show for Norwich? Did we play them at the wrong time? I don’t think it had anything to do with a mayor, the simple fact is we were far better than they were on the day, we knew how to play against them and we went out and won that game with our terrific start.

I suppose it might have been better playing them than Manchester City yesterday who I thought might be like a wounded animal after losing at Carrow Road. I feared for Watford and, as it happened, with some justification.

So, eight points from six games is a decent enough start and one we can now build on. That, albeit against Norwich, was a very, very good performance from us.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jeff Hendrick (Robbie Brady 90+2), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Aaron Lennon 79), Ashley Barnes (Jay Rodriguez 79), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Matěj Vydra.

Norwich: Tim Krul, Sam Byram, Ibrahim Amadou, Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis, Alex Tetty (Mo Leitner 13), Kenny McLean, Emiliano Buendia, Marco Stiepermann (Jospi Drmic 75), Todd Cantwell (Patrick Roberts 90), Teemu Pukki. Subs not used: Michael McGovern, Philip Heise, Grant Hanley, Dennis Srbeny.

Yellow Card: Ibrahim Amadou.

Referee: David Coote (Nottingham).

Attendance: 19,712.

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