I was trying to think of a suitable title for the report of yesterday’s 0-0 home draw against Watford and couldn’t really come up with anything better than the one word – horrible.
The weather was horrible, just as bad as it could be for a football match and it contributed very much to a horrible game of football where the only consolation, on a day when we needed to win, was the fact that we didn’t lose.
We knew in advance that the weather wasn’t going to be good. Sometimes it turns out not to be quite as bad as we feared; yesterday it was worse with incessant rain all day and very strong winds that have led to a number of strange items arriving in my back garden.
Still, it was good to be going back to the Turf for the first time in eight weeks having been forced to miss the FA Cup tie against Huddersfield through illness. Last time for me was the 0-0 draw against West Ham. That was in the days when we had a striker called Chris Wood and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson wasn’t having appendix problems.
Last night we had one home league debutant in right-back Connor Roberts who had come in for Matt Lowton two weeks ago at Arsenal. Also, there was our one January signing Wout Weghorst who was up front alongside Maxwel Cornet who had returned from the AFCON, and Dale Stephens was given his first league start since he was forced off at half against Chelsea in the sixth Premier League game of last season.
To get to my seat in the Longside Upper, I have to walk past the Dortmund End with his bright yellow doors (I’ll refrain from calling it the Watford End on this occasion). Its lights were ablaze but once round the corner it was like walking into a dark expanse that people were finding it hard to navigate. Even the temporary turnstile signs had gone and all the stand wall lighting was doing was advertising some of the club’s sponsors.
Did I use horrible as the title? This was horrible. It really was inadequately lit and I saw one man trip on the kerb edge. The organisation and assistance here was on a par with the club’s ticketing website which has proved to be akin to a chocolate fireguard since the season tickets were launched.
I did get in and did get to my seat in good time with the Longside Upper proving again it’s not for the faint hearted in these weather conditions.
With us attacking the cricket field end in the first half, I thought we started well. We moved the ball forward well, particularly down the right with Aaron Lennon prominent and our new strike force combined on one occasion that brought us close to a goal with Cornet’s shot saved by Ben Foster after he’d run on to a Weghorst knock down.
If only we’d got a goal during this spell, but we didn’t and we didn’t often look too likely to. And, as the first half progressed, Watford came more into it. Lennon saved us when he cleared what would have been a Ben Mee own goal off the line and then, right on half time, referee Craig Pawson, who I have to say looked anything but a Premier League quality referee, waved away claims for a penalty. They thought Roberts had handled the ball and VAR did take a look.
No doubt we needed a lift or a bit of luck in the second half and we all but got it with just a few seconds gone. Weghorst got onto the ball in the box, got past a defender but then saw another come across and block his shot. It looped up and came back into play off the top of the bar and Watford were eventually able to clear.
It was a rare bit of excitement in the second half. For much of it there was every reason to think it would remain at 0-0 although Watford did, just about, look the more likely. That was until James Tarkowski tried to sort it all on his own with a lung bursting run from his own penalty box. I thought it was going to go all the way and shoot but he eventually played it to Weghorst who couldn’t keep his shot down.
Tarky deserved that. For the second game running he’d been our best player and there is no doubt we are going to need him in that form for the rest of the season.
All that was left was to get out and home and if getting in was difficult, they’ve now found it harder to get out for those trying to get to Belvedere Road. It was the route round the blocked off area for the television vans. It was uncomfortably overcrowded, and it was only when up alongside the cricket ground was that eased.
It’s on the field where the main problems are. We are half way though the season with just thirteen points. We’ve won only thirty points from the last 38 Premier League games.
We have lost just eight games and that’s lower at this stage than in any of our other Premier League seasons other than 2017/18. Only nine teams have currently lost less than us in the entire league. But the reason for our woes is evident, you just need to take a look at the wins column which shows just that solitary victory against Brentford.
This time I think it’s going to be very difficult for us to get out of it. And if anyone else mentions the fact that we’ve a lot of home games to go, can I point out that we’ve won just one Premier League game at Turf Moor in the last twelve months.
I hope I’m wrong, but I think we are now in serious trouble in the Premier League.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon (Jay Rodriguez 66), Ashley Westwood, Dale Stephens, Dwight McNeil, Wout Weghorst, Maxwel Cornet. Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Will Norris, Matt Lowton, Phil Bardsley, Nathan Collins, Kevin Long, Bobby Thomas, Jack Cork.
Yellow Card: Dale Stephens.
Watford: Ben Foster, Kiko Femenía, Craig Cathcart, Samir, Hassane Kamara, Juraj Kucka, Moussa Sissoko, Edo Kayembe (Tom Cleverley 70), Ken Sema, João Pedro (Cucho Hernández 83), Josh King. Subs not used: Daniel Bachmann, Jeremy Ngakia, William Troost-Ekong, Imrân Louza, Adam Masina, Ashley Fletcher, Christian Kabasele.
Yellow Cards: Josh King, Tom Cleverley.
Referee: Craig Pawson (Sheffield).
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