Four more goals conceded and another defeat
Four at Fulham, five at Manchester City, four last week at home against Chelsea and now we’ve conceded another four at West Ham in a 4-2 defeat which has taken our goals against tally to 25 in 11 Premier League games this season.
These sort of results are unheard of under Sean Dyche’s management. This is more like the Premier League start under Owen Coyle or those final dramatic weeks of Eddie Howe as goals poured in against us, and there currently seems to be no explanation or solution to what has become a major problem.
“We don’t score enough goals,” I heard someone say as we left yesterday. Maybe we don’t, but, incredibly, we’ve scored more goals this season than we had at the same stage last season. Simply, Burnley won’t be a team that scores a lot of goals but our big problem is not at that end of the pitch. It’s there for all to see that the major problem is the number of goals we are conceding.
On 24th February last season, Manolo Gabbiadini scored a last minute equaliser for Southampton against us. It took our goals conceded for the season in the Premier League to 25 and that was in our 28th game. We’ve achieved it this season in just 11 games.
That’s where the problem is but it is no use pointing just at the back four. Yesterday our man of the match, for me, was a choice between two of that back four, Ben Mee or Charlie Taylor. But look in front of them. Steven Defour and Ashley Westwood were woeful. With Jeff Hendrick left out and Matěj Vydra performing almost anonymously in a forward position, it left them exposed and how often has Defour played well in a standard 4-4-2 line up? With or without Defour though, we are not currently good enough in that central midfield area.
Our trip was fine yesterday, we used a bus, car, underground and DLR during the day and apart from one road closure on the way home there were no problems. We arrived at the stadium in good time. No complaints about the place this time, it’s my third visit and I’ve done all that.
I don’t know how confident I was yesterday before the game but any confidence I did have drained very quickly with West Ham grabbing the initiative right from the start.
We were a goal behind in ten minutes. This was down to a bad individual mistake from James Tarkowski. It left Marko Arnautovic one on one with Joe Hart. The Austrian striker was the winner. It led to a first half of virtually total domination from the home team. Hart made one good save and one more routine. Mee made one incredible goal line clearance while Defour gave a penalty away, or should have done. There is no doubt that he fouled Grady Diangana but, incredibly, Roger East waved it away.
So it’s not just us who don’t get them. Even Sean Dyche said after the game that it was a penalty and suggested Diangana probably didn’t get it because he went down naturally rather than roll around to exaggerate it.
With around 43 minutes gone, West Ham fired a shot over our bar. I sighed with relief and said to myself that we needed to get in at 1-0 and get ourselves sorted. Incredibly, we didn’t, we went in level. It all came from a long kick out from Hart. Eventually Westwood played it through for Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson and he rolled his left foot shot past Lukasz Fabianski and incredibly we went in level at half time.
Having got through a torrid first half and come out of it all square, there were hopes that a second half improvement could lead to a favourable result. We did improve, the second half was much better than the first, but it still wasn’t anywhere near good enough with West Ham still the better team by far.
Even so, we got to almost twenty minutes from the end before they edged in front again. Tarkowski dived in some distance from goal. Referee East played an advantage, it left us exposed and Felipe Anderson restored their lead. The big signing has not proved popular with the home fans so far but definitely impressed in this game.
We responded by making three changes in three minutes and two of the substitutes combined to draw us level. We won a corner on the left, taken by Robbie Brady, on for Aaron Lennon. It dropped short but it won us another corner. This time it found Chris Wood, who had come on for Sam Vokes and he headed home his first goal in the Premier League this season.
There were just thirteen minutes remaining. We had surely earned ourselves an unlikely point, but it wasn’t to be. Anderson hit the post and then got his second with a shot that deflected off Mee. Even so, we were close to a third equaliser when Wood’s header hit the top of the bar after a terrific run from Taylor.
But, as we pushed up looking for a late equaliser, they caught us and Javier Hernández made it 4-2 and that was that, another shattering defeat with the teams below us beginning to look even closer. Thankfully, only Newcastle of those clubs have won so far.
Asked if we could have got something out of yesterday’s game, Sean Dyche said: “Possibly,” and he was right. At 2-2 with six minutes remaining we actually should have got something from it, but if we had then it really would have been a steal after we’d been second best, and by some distance, for virtually the whole of the game.
It’s going to be tough for a number of reasons next week at Leicester, but we have to go there and defend better as a team than we did yesterday. We can’t afford to be shipping goals at more than two goals per game. We are only going one way if that continues.
Game over, we made our way to Pudding Mill Lane DLR station and we finally go home safe and sound. Even the driver’s anger, shown clearly at the final whistle, had by then subsided.
The teams were;
West Ham: Lukasz Fabianski, Pablo Zabaleta, Fabián Balbuena, Issa Diop, Aaron Cresswell, Pedro Obiang, Declan Rice, Robert Snodgrass, Grady Diangana (Michael Antonio 86), Marko Arnautovic (Angelo Ogbonna 90+1), Felipe Anderson (Javier Hernández 61). Subs not used: Adrián, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaka, Lucas Pérez.
Yellow Card: Felipe Anderson.
Burnley: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Steven Defour, Ashley Westwood, Aaron Lennon (Robbie Brady 75), Matěj Vydra (Ashley Barnes 72), Sam Vokes (Chris Wood 72). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Kevin Long, Jeff Hendrick, Dwight McNeil.
Yellow Cards: James Tarkowski, Matt Lowton, Ashley Barnes, Robbie Brady.
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).
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