Clarets lose FA Youth Cup tie

Terry Pashley’s young Clarets crashed out of the FA Youth Cup, losing 2-0 against an impressive Nottingham Forest side.

The goals came either side of half time from Oliver Burke and Tyler Walker (son of Forest legend Des) and set up a quarter-final clash with either Manchester United or Tottingham Hotsoup.

After last week’s comfortable victory over Cardiff City it was a completely different story at the City Ground. The Clarets struggled to get hold of the ball really in the first half.

The referee was more like the Sheriff of Nottingham in the early stages, although I think the Forest fans will disagree, giving numerous soft free kicks with efforts dipping over the bar and saves made by Tony Aghayere.

There were a few runs from Bradley Jackson and Ntumba Massanka but they failed to develop into real chances.

The first goal wasn’t too much of a surprise. It resulted from a corner. The ball fell to Burke’s feet and he had far too much time to adjust and shoot from close range.

This seemed to give Burnley a bit of a kick up the rear that they needed. Almost from the restart Jackson passed to Massanka for a shot on goal.

Just before half time came the best chance for the Clarets. Jackson again down the wing crossed to Andreas Bianga who tried to curl his shot past the keeper, but he managed to parry it.

Minutes later Aghayere caught a cross on the line but he was bungled into the net leading to cheers for a goal. The linesman quite rightly flagged for a foul, which upset the natives somewhat.

The home side began the second half in much the same way as the first. They had numerous free kicks with Waqas Azam gaining a yellow in the process.

A goal looked likely with Walker having a great chance superbly saved by Aghayere.

But Forest finally doubled their lead after 65 minutes when an Aghayere goal kick was headed straight back from the middle of the park. Walker raced on to the incoming ball, took one touch and rattled it home from around 20 yards giving the Burnley stopper very little chance at all.

However that young man did keep us in the game by making numerous fantastic saves using whichever part of himself he could. They say a perfect hat-trick is left foot, right foot and head. Well he must have made the perfect saves equivalent.

The defence didn’t seem as solid as it did last week but Forest were bigger, stronger and looked fitter not unsurprising given that they are a level two EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) squad and we are level three.

Jamie Frost, who ironically was wearing gloves, had a good chance in the last few minutes when he dribbled into the box like Lionel Messi only to see three defenders close him down like he was Lionel Blair.

The Reds saw out the remainder of the game with ease and booked their place in the last eight.

MOTM: Aghayere

Burnley: Aghayere; El-Fitouri, Hobson, Azam, Nugent; Hill (Frost 60), Bianga, Wilson, Jackson; Metz (Crawford 76), Massanka (Dolling 72)

Subs: Dixon, Grogan.

Nottingham Forest: Erlandsson; Yates, Worrall, Lacovitti, Kelly; Burke, Crookes, Cash, Gamblem; McDonagh (Walton 80), Walker

Subs: Dearle, Otim, Austin, Nielsen.

Attendance: 788

Burnley are desperate for midfield options

A blind man on a galloping horse could see where Burnley need new signings, but it’s all quiet at Turf Moor this week.

With only two specialist senior central midfielders on the Club’s books, Sean Dyche has been extraordinarily fortunate that David Jones and Dean Marney have both been fit enough to start the vast majority of games this season.

For whatever reason, the signing of Nathaniel Chalobah just didn’t work out and the talented youngster’s return to Chelsea has left the Clarets extremely short of options in the middle of the park.

Chalobah clearly didn’t have the trust of his manager despite having the best pass completion rate of anyone in the squad from his small time on the pitch this season. Dyche even ignored him when he had no fit midfielders for that awful game at West Brom, but he at least provided some cover.

Dyche can shuffle the pack a little bit but his options are severely limited. Scott Arfield has had more bad games in central midfield for us than good ones and moving him inside weakens the team in two areas. Stephen Ward is needed at left-back and Matt Taylor – remember him? – has been injured since the opening weeks of the season. Steven Reid could theoretically play one the left, but was badly exposed playing in front of the defence in the thrashing at The Hawthorns, an experiment Dyche will be in no hurry to retry.

There are doubtless others in the squad who could ‘do a job’ if called upon to play in midfield, but it is nothing short of a dereliction of duty if at least one midfielder does not arrive before the transfer window SLAMS SHUT on Monday night. It’s no exaggeration to say that a serious injury to either Jones or Marney would effectively relegate the club immediately.

Getting players in is a challenge at any time but Burnley look like they’ll be in the deadline day bunfight with the rest, waving comparatively meagre handfuls of cash around while bigger and richer clubs flaunt their cheque books.

Burnley found it virtually impossible to complete big signings in the summer, with Craig Bryson, James McArthur and Henri Lansbury among the reported midfield targets who did not arrive at Turf Moor.

Hopefully lessons have been learned from that shambles, with the early capture of Michael Keane a positive sign, but with few rumours coming out of the club it is natural that some supporters are starting to panic, even though there’s still time.

A new signing would be a big boost ahead of Saturday’s massive match at Sunderland, where the struggling home side will be boosted by the home league debut of former England international striker Jermain Defoe. Giving a three-and-a-half-year deal with apparently giant wages to a 32-year-old who has been playing at a low standard in MLS might not seem financially wise, but if his goals keep Gus Poyet’s side in the Premier League it will have been worth it.

It’s often said that more deals are completed in the last 36 hours of a transfer window than the rest of the period put together and while that might be true, it does not benefit the Clarets to leave it to the last minute.

Competing financially with other Premier League clubs is hard enough at the best of times, but when the days are running out and the prices get jacked up the Turf Moor negotiators are going to effectively be working with one hand tied behind their back.

It comes to something when even Birmingham City’s raw teenage talent Demarai Gray is probably out of our price range, with Championship leaders Bournemouth reportedly having had a £3 million bid for the pacy attacker rejected. We all know that Eddie Howe can spot a young forward, but could we break our transfer record for Gray? It would be a lot of money to pay for potential. If we can’t afford the cream of the Championship, who can we get?

The Clarets therefore have to be savvier than most when pursuing players as the chances are other clubs will be able to outbid us in both transfer fees and wages. Two loans are available after Keane’s temporary spell was converted into a permanent deal and that may be the more likely option in the next few days.

Loans have served the club reasonably well in recent years, with Keane, Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee among the major success stories, while the likes of Jack Cork and David Nugent did pretty well too. However, Chalobah showed it can be hard for loanees to make an impact and there are plenty of others who have done nothing during loans at Turf Moor. You also can’t build a team with loans and they need to be replaced whereas permanent transfers are an investment if the right players are brought in.

Dyche has made the best out of what he’s got, but the next few days could make the difference between Burnley staying in the Premier League and going down. You can bet managers like Harry Redknapp will be wheeling and dealing from dawn to dusk and if we don’t bring anybody in then we are going backwards, with our relegation rivals improving their teams.

There should be money to spend and while buying players for the sake of it is rarely a good plan, Burnley clearly need more midfielders. There is also a worrying lack of pace in the squad that also needs to be addressed. Most Premier League clubs would love a regular goalscorer and while the Clarets are relatively well stocked up front with Sam Vokes back and providing competition for Ashley Barnes, another forward who could contribute a few goals would be welcome too. Kevin Long being ruled out for the season means more centre-back cover may also be required.

It might be unreasonable to expect four or five new faces to arrive before Monday night’s deadline, but a couple of signings to give Dyche the best possible chance of keeping the club in the Premier League is a must.

Can Burnley get some deals done? Who should we target? Comment below.

Young Clarets come through FA Cup tie

Burnley’s young starlets claimed an emphatic 3-1 victory over Cardiff City to progress to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night.

A trip to face Nottingham Forest at the City Ground was the reward following goals from Brandon Wilson, Jamie Frost and Bradley Jackson on a bitterly cold evening at Turf Moor.

Burnley dominated the first half and it looked like it was only a matter of time before they took the lead. Ntumba Massanka was in the thick of the action and he was unlucky not to get on the score sheet. This lad has pace to burn.

The goal came just before half time following a bit of a goalmouth scramble which fell to Wilson, who shot home from the edge of the box.

The lead was nearly doubled on the stroke of half time when Jackson let rip only to see the Cardiff stopper make an absolutely world class save to tip it round the post.

I’ve seen Jackson play a few times now and he always impresses. He’s quick, has good feet and isn’t afraid to skin a full-back.

The appropriately-named Jamie Frost came on for Massanka just after the hour mark. He’s another young lad that I rate and he made an immediate impact.

On 75 minutes, Jackson muscled his way through the Welsh defence and when his cross was deflected he managed to hook a cross over to the back post for the waiting Frost, who slammed the ball in to the far corner, giving the keeper absolutely no chance.

Burnley were 2-0 up – and true to recent form they soon conceded. Cardiff won a free kick on the edge of the box. All the players lined up as if Veale was going to cross it in to the box. From where we were sat it looked like there was a big gap. There was. He curled it in to the top corner.

But thankfully there was that man again. Khius Metz played a delightful through ball and Jackson powered into the box and made no mistake making it 3-1 and guaranteeing the Clarets a fifth round tie against Nottingham Forest next Tuesday 27th January.

I would also like to give Waqas Azam a quick mention. I thought he was solid in the centre of defence. He’s not the tallest of centre halves but he put himself about. He’s another one to watch.

MOTM: Bradley Jackson

Burnley: Aghayere; El-Fitouri (Dixon 86), Hobson, Azam, Nugent; Jackson, Bianga, Wilson, Hill; Massanka (Frost 66), Metz.

Subs: King, Dolling, Crawford.

Cardiff: Massaro, Rees, Baker, Patten, R. Menayese, Williams, Watkins (Phipps 46), Yonwa-Toonga (So Sani 75), E. Menayese, Taylor (Veale 46), Noor.

Subs: Coughlan, Coxe.

Attendance: 282

Podcast 65: Crystal Palace and transfers

Jamie is joined by James, Ian and Robbie on this week’s podcast.

This week, they discuss the defeats against QPR and Spurs – both of which saw Burnley surrender a 2-0 lead. Jamie is joined by Crystal Palace fan and freelance journalist Alex White, who provides a view from the opposition.

The panel also talk about potential transfer targets, particularly in midfield, where Burnley look like they need strengthening.

Finally, the team look ahead to the Sunderland game.

There will be no podcast next week (unless we think of something special for you all).

You can listen online here or in the player below. To listen to all previous episodes of the NNN podcast, please visit our mini-site, where you can also find links to subscribe on iTunes. Check out our guide if you’re not sure what any of this means. If you have any feedback/questions or want to be a guest one week, please email us at the usual address: podcast@nonaynever.net.

Who can we target?

On Monday night, I was a guest on the No Nay Never podcast for the first time in yonks – obviously we all discussed the Crystal Palace game without trying to get too emotional, but also on the agenda was realistic transfer targets. Jamie set us a target of thinking of a realistic signing which the club could be looking at. After listening back to what I said, I now have a different opinion. It is often said how difficult it is to do business in January, but I think it’s much harder than I imagined.

A lot of my suggestions were based on stories I saw in the papers – Graham Dorrans, Aron Gunnarsson and so on. But genuinely thinking about it, I’m not sure how realistic they both are. I agree that they’re the standards of players able to play for us, but thinking of the possibility of Dorrans actually coming to us does seem a little unlikely. Why would West Brom sell to a fellow relegation rival in January?

This probably isn’t the greatest comparison, but I think about when Chelsea sold Juan Mata to Manchester United this time last year, and what people had to say. A lot of pundits and critics were scratching their heads in bemusement. I feel like West Brom wouldn’t even think about doing any kind of business with us now, perhaps in the summer, but I really can’t envisage them selling to us in the next two weeks or so.

So you look towards the Championship for players, and again it’s going to be very difficult. It’s realistic that our potential targets are going to be at clubs in the top end of the Championship, and let’s be honest, they’re not going to be interested in doing any kind of business with us, especially with the chances that we could be swapping positions in the summer. Jonny Howson and Bradley Johnson were players that a couple of Burnley fans have mentioned, and even though I love to see them here, I feel like their wages could be an issue. It’s also worth mentioning that Howson and Johnson have both signed improved deals at Norwich in the last 12-18 months, and with Norwich currently sitting seventh in the Championship and trying to get back to the Premier League, why would they disrupt their squad?

I think it’s fair to say that some also Championship clubs have a much bigger wage budget than us and I really don’t think we can compete with them, especially when you think back to the summer when we struggled to lure Craig Bryson and Henri Lansbury from Derby County and Nottingham Forest respectively and they both ended up signing new deals at their clubs. I feel like we’ll be in the same situation again.

So then, our next options are in League One, but I don’t think players playing at that level are going to improve our squad. Not long ago, Sean Dyche admitted it is difficult to sign players in the English market, so the club appointed Robbie Cooke to the scouting department with the brief of venturing into the European leagues and look for reinforcements there. But like myself, I think most Burnley fans take great pride in our all-British squad. I find it quite overwhelming seeing the club getting praised in the national media for the amount of British players we have, and I wouldn’t like that to change.

 

Premier League review: Palace the big movers

Results recap

Burnley 2-3 Crystal Palace (Mee 12, Ings 16; Gayle 28, 87, Puncheon 48)

Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool (Borini 24, Lambert 79)

Leicester City 0-1 Stoke City (Bojan 63)

QPR 0-2 Manchester United (Fellaini 58, Wilson 94)

Swansea City 0-5 Chelsea (Oscar 1, 36, Costa 20, 34, Schurrle 79)

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Sunderland (Vertonghen 3, Eriksen 88; Larsson 31)

Newcastle United 1-2 Southampton (Gouffran 29; Elia 14, 62)

West Ham United 3-0 Hull City (Carroll 49, Amalfitano 69, Downing 72)

Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal (Cazorla 24, Giroud 67)

Everton 0-0 West Bromwich Albion

Five things we learned

  1. Next step: close a game out. We’ve cracked how to score goals, that’s not a problem. We’ve cracked how to compete and perform at a high level… Most weeks. What’s needed now is for us to learn from our mistakes against Palace, and not see a two-goal lead slip again. We had three chances to close the game out on Saturday – at 2-0, 2-1, and 2-2 – however we left empty-handed, and that can’t happen again.
  2. Midfielders are needed. Not only because David Jones, in my opinion, isn’t performing to a high enough level but because the midfielders who are, Scott Arfield and George Boyd for example, need a rest. We also need someone who can impact the game off the bench if they aren’t starting games. Personally, I feel Ross Wallace can do this, however Sean Dyche prefers not to use him either at all or until late on.
  3. Aston Villa can’t score I know this isn’t something we’ve only learned this week, however every week that passes it becomes more and more “in your face”. This is the second time this season Villa have gone five games without a goal and — completely unbiasedly – long may it continue.
  4. QPR are in big trouble. It’s no secret that QPR have found it difficult (impossible, in fact) to get anything away from home, but as it has been repeated over and over – they have played most of the stronger sides away from home so far. This does of course mean they are more likely to pick up some away points away from Loftus Road in the second half of the season, however as Manchester United demonstrated on Saturday it’s also going to become harder for the R’s to rely on their home form.
  5. West Ham could be our saviours. At the start of the season West Ham United seemed like the type of team we could “take”, and were also candidates to go down. When the season began and people started to realise Big Sam had got them playing really good football, I began to groan. It seemed to me that we’d just lost a team we could hope for four or maybe six points from, a team that could take up one of the relegation spots. However, West Ham’s miracle has actually become an aide for Burnley, as teams down the bottom end of the table are failing to pick up points against them, and they nicely put Hull City in their place on Sunday afternoon.

Something to celebrate…

It shouldn’t be overlooked that Burnley are scoring a decent number of goals. We did concede three, however before that we had raced into a two-goal lead without even playing well, and we’ve scored more goals than West Brom, Villa, Hull, Leicester and Sunderland, which suggests that if we can use January to prevent goals from going in the other end, we should be completely fine.

Something a little less exciting…

West Brom’s solidification under Tony Pulis is slightly frustrating, but to be expected. More alarming is Alan Pardew’s effect on Crystal Palace, who have won both of their Premier League games under the new manager including a match against Spurs. It is to be hoped that this is simply a “honeymoon period” and that the Eagles will return to poor results sooner rather than later.

The weekend’s big movers

Palace took Burnley’s opportunity to move into 12th (though they have since dropped to 13th due to Everton’s point on Monday night) and rise high above the relegation zone – but remain just four points above it. Chelsea pulled further ahead of Manchester City after Arsenal’s stunningly resolute display at the Etihad took all three points away from the Citizens, and now the Blues sit five points pretty at the top of the pile.

Pick of the quotes

  • Sean Dyche – “There are many lessons. The simple one is if you’re not on top of your game for every minute, you get hurt.”
  • Alan Pardew -“What a performance to come back. I don’t care who you are playing against. It was an amazing game and I thought we deserved it.”
  • Jose Mourinho – “There is no history without titles so if we play fantastic and don’t win cups no-one will remember this team.”
  • Harry Redknapp – “Do I look like I feel under pressure?”
  • John Carver – (On appointing a new manager) “The crowd are on the edge of their seats, waiting on a decision and the club have to make that soon”
  • Arsene Wenger – (On Santi Cazorla) “He is fantastic because he gets you out of pressure in tight situations. He shows you how important it is to be two-footed in the middle of the park. He passionately loves the game.”

Where did it all go wrong?

I’ve had to give it a day to sink in just how bad we were against Palace beyond that wonderful opening 20 minutes. After racing into a comfortable lead we sat back, believed the match was won and invited pressure and ultimately that was our undoing – or was it?

Palace started out in a 4-4-2 formation and initially focused their attacks down the left wing through Wilfred Zaha. This plan failed to deliver with Kieran Trippier more than capable of coping with Zaha’s pace. Here, Alan Pardew made his first tactical swap, switching Zaha on to the right to have a go at Ben Mee.

It paid instant dividends as well when Zaha got the better of Mee with a mixture of pace and trickery to whip in a wicked delivery that had our back line in knots. A half-hashed clearance later and Palace were back in the game through Dwight Gayle.

Taken aback and with memories of Wednesday night fresh in the mind we invited pressure and Palace duly obliged in applying it and could easily have gone in level at half-time.

Part of that was down to another switch from Pardew who had reshaped his side into a 4-5-1. Gayle and Zaha provided the width with Yaya Sanogo the target up top. The beauty of this change was the ability of it to swiftly adapt into a 4-3-3 when they picked up possession thanks to the pace employed down the wings and our rigid 4-4-2 just wasn’t able to cope with such fluidity.

It was obvious at this point that something had to change and without any ready-made replacements on the bench that could wield influence in the necessary areas, it would need to be either a reshuffle in personnel already on the pitch or a change in tactics.

For me, I’d have switched George Boyd and Scott Arfield. Boyd’s well documented willingness to run would have given Mee much needed cover down our left flank while Arfield had faded and he influenced little after his brilliant assist.

The alternative would have been to do the above change and drop into a similar 4-5-1 with Danny Ings coming 20 yards deeper to provide Dean Marney and David Jones with an additional route out of the middle.

Route one to nowhere

Our initial direct route one football was ineffectual against a defence that was all too willing to rough it up and we were forced to play through the middle. The creation of an additional outlet in Ings could possibly have prevented the equaliser where Marney sent a wayward ball straight to a Palace player.

As a side note I do feel for Marney. I love Zinedean but his performances of late have dropped well below the standard expected at this level and he needs some time out from the first team. The only problem is that we don’t have anyone to come in – it’s time for the board to get their cheque book out.

At 2-2 we slowly got back into the game but a sign of building fatigue saw our attacks break down, with misplaced passes across the board seeing us give away possession cheaply time and again.

Actually, the only attack of note in the whole second period was Michael Keane’s volley that was well blocked on the line. It would have been daylight robbery had it gone in but I’d have taken it. Alas, the man making the block had been our summer transfer target, James McArthur, who had run the Palace midfield superbly all day.

With the clock running down we left it late before finally making changes. Sam Vokes got 17 minutes while they brought on Adlene Guedioura and pushed Jason Puncheon out wide in place of Zaha.

It was this change that gave them the win, as Puncheon’s ball deceived everyone and landed at the feet of Gayle who happily stuck in his second of the game. It was poor defending from us and Trippier was a mismatch for Glenn Murray and again this lapse of concentration could easily be put down to fatigue.

Finally, we made our last two changes with three minutes on the clock. I’ve always struggled to understand Dyche’s reluctance to introduce fresh legs off the bench and this game was crying out for an early substitution once they got on top but his hands are tied.

We lack quality in depth and this goes back to our woeful summer transfer window and we’re effectively trying to stay up with a squad that is Championship mid-table standard bar the odd couple who have star quality.

Unwillingness to change

Overall, Pardew showed his experience and tactical nous to outwit Dyche. Some will say it’s harsh to lay the blame at his door, after all, Pardew has quality players throughout his squad unlike Dyche but yesterday I don’t think the result came down to that.

It was an unwillingness to adapt that caught us out and that is something that Dyche can directly influence. He’s always learning at this level though and I hope he takes it on the chin and uses the experience to influence future results.

Where do we go now? We need to regroup, have a short break and go over what went wrong, which I know Dyche will do. He won’t accept his players giving up a two-goal lead twice in a week and I’m certain he’ll let them know that.

The break also gives him the chance to have an in-depth look at the transfer market and hopefully bring in that much needed quality to enhance not only our chances of survival but also his own hand when influencing a game.

Why did we lose against Palace? Comment below.

Analysis: Burnley 2-3 Crystal Palace

Dwight Gayle’s 87th minute winner silenced the home faithful at a snowy Turf Moor as Burnley suffered an almighty collapse in letting their relegation rivals turn the tables on them, despite holding a two goal advantage.

Alan Pardew’s men began the match horribly with Ben Mee and Danny Ings finding the net early on, though a tactical shift from the new Eagles manager changed the tide and they quickly stormed back with Gayle opening his account in the first half and Jason Puncheon netting the equaliser just after the interval.

Both teams looked to be heading for a point apiece but horrible defending allowed Gayle in behind to seal three wins out of three for Pardew since his move from Newcastle.

1st half highlights

BURNLEY 1-0 Crystal Palace

A great opening for the hosts.

Kieran Trippier’s inswinging corner was outstanding. He bent the ball high to the far post, deceiving the melee of Palace and Burnley bodies in and around the centre of the box. It also bamboozled keeper Julian Speroni who made absolutely no attempt to claim the ball because he was too far towards his near post, meaning he couldn’t adjust quick enough to stop the ball reaching Ben Mee at the far post to nod home. Though one could argue that an average corner wouldn’t have highlighted his poor positional sense. This was a brilliant delivery, make no mistake.

BURNLEY 2-0 Crystal Palace

Amazing. The first time Burnley have gone two goals ahead at home this season.

It was Joel Ward who was left red-faced after failing to deal with a loose ball on the edge of the pitch. Scott Arfield got in front of the right-back, kept the ball in play and picked out Danny Ings between the two centre halves. Arguments have been made suggesting Arfield fouled Ward in order to regain the football but in truth, the defender should have just been looking to clear the ball. Anyway, this unpredictable moment meant Ings was not picked up and had a free run at Speroni – the in-form striker making no mistake with a cool finish across the Argentine.

Burnley 2-1 CRYSTAL PALACE

A hat-trick of goals which could have been easily prevented!

As he wasn’t getting much change out of Trippier, Wilfried Zaha changed flanks and it worked a treat in this instance. Zaha left Arfield and Mee in his wake and provided a superb cross into the box. Jason Shackell was in no-mans-land and Michael Keane had to cover his man while Trippier had to cover the space left by Keane. Trippier didn’t get enough on his instinctive clearence, allowing the ball to drop to Dwight Gayle who took one touch before hammering past a helpless Tom Heaton.

– James McArthur pushed forward but his strike from 25 yards lacked power and was easily gathered by Tom Heaton

– Yaya Sanogo’s header on the stroke of half time was turned around the post by Arfield

2nd half highlights

Burnley 2-2 CRYSTAL PALACE

Disappointing.

The visitors had been piling on the pressure in the latter half of the first period and Burnley should have been prepared to weather an early storm after the interval. They didn’t.

The Clarets’ passing had been wayward all game and prime culprit Dean Marney was at the centre of this. Either hoof it over the half way line or pick out a Burnley man. In that situation, the former would have been more appropriate with few options to pick out. As it is, the ball was recycled to Jason Puncheon who in turn pushed forward unchallenged. With the Burnley defence continuing to back off, Puncheon slid a shot into the corner from 25 yards.

– Jason Shackell knocked down Trippier’s free kick to Michael Keane and his instinctive volley was blocked on the line by McArthur

– Substitute Glenn Murray almost made Burnley pay with a hooked effort on the turn from a poorly cleared corner that rattled the post. Murray then reacted quicker than any Burnley player once more but clipped the rebound over with the goal gaping

Burnley 2-3 CRYSTAL PALACE

Diabolical! Defending of this calibre isn’t acceptable in the lower divisions.

Puncheon proves the catalyst this time but he really shouldn’t be chalking up an assist here. Trippier should be staying with Gayle but is instead drawn into the humongous Murray as Keane isn’t challenging him. It’s an obvious mismatch and there would only ever be one winner. Inevitably, Murray just sticks his body in front of Trippier, allowing the ball to fall to an unmarked Gayle. The forward – who was left out in the cold by ex-manager Neil Warnock – had all the time in the world to carry the ball in on goal and strike powerfully across an exposed Heaton to win the game for Palace.

Where was the game won and lost?

In the midfield – where many games are decided.

David Jones and Dean Marney were slow, pedestrian and quite honestly looked out of their depth. Every pass looked more difficult than it ought to have done with the amount of times they failed to find a claret and blue shirt. In comparison, James McArthur was far superior. Often, like Nemanja Matic for Chelsea, Yaya Toure for Manchester City and Victor Wanyama for Southampton, teams operate well with a midfield enforcer dictating the play and that was exactly McArthur’s role. He was the catalyst for Palace’s attacking threats to go forth and terrify the Burnley defence.

In general, the Eagles were more physical, particularly in defence. Whenever Burnley opted to hoof the ball long to Ashley Barnes and Ings, Scott Dann and Damien Delaney were always roughing up the forwards a little bit, making life very difficult for them to keep the ball in the final third. It was certainly not untoward, just common sense. In the past, Burnley have been obviously route one in their approach and defenders haven’t been physical enough to cope with Barnes and Ings. Palace’s defenders neutralised the directness of the Clarets effectively, leading them to try and play centrally, which didn’t work because Burnley don’t have the quality of player to do so.

There is also I feel only so far you can go with a 4-4-2 formation. What is good about this formation is that it is excellent for taking advantage of defensive errors, because you have two strikers ready to pounce in that final third rather than a lone man. As shown in the second goal, Arfield won back possession and he was able to thread Danny Ings in and Palace were therefore made to pay for their poor defending. However, 4-4-2 does have its drawbacks and Burnley’s particular system is often very linear. The midfield is very flat and the two front men are equally so. Movement is restricted and when attacking, Burnley are often predictable. If you recount Burnley’s recent goals few of them haven’t involved slack defending on the opposition’s part. Both goals scored for Burnley were down to mistakes by Palace. Coincidence? I think not, because it is not actually a great system for creating chances, more a system of seizing on the mistakes of defenders.

Though some people have suggested Sean Dyche should have switched to a 4-5-1 formation in order to preserve the points. He can only do that effectively with decent back-up players to call upon. He hasn’t. You could say put Scott Arfield in the middle but that shouldn’t be necessary. Dyche should be able to bring a strapping midfielder off the bench to help solidify the midfield if Jones and Marney are struggling. Similarly, he only has one real game-changer in Ross Wallace which is ridiculous for a Premier League club. So is Dyche tactically naive or is he just playing the cards he can with the players he has? The board need to back the manager because he has got by with the bare minimum thus far and he warrants a decent financial backing to see through survival.

People will then say on the tactics front that Pardew shuffled his formation without bringing anyone off the bench. This is true – he opted for a 4-5-1 after originally setting-up 4-4-2 – but Pardew has better players. James McArthur and Joe Ledley are far superior to Burnley’s midfield duo and Zaha, Puncheon and Gayle are players with pace, quality and the ability to create things out of nothing. Pardew then pushed Puncheon back out wide when be brought on Adlene Guedioura from the bench and Puncheon then assisted the winner from the wing. Yes the manager deserves credit for these tactical change but I reiterate, he has the players to rotate his formation and Dyche doesn’t have that luxury.

Burnley MOTM

Danny Ings 7/10: I believe this performance reinforces his importance to the Clarets. It wasn’t his performance that reinforced this, more the lack of one from the Clarets. In fairness though, Ings did deserve plaudits for trying to make something happen every time he was on the ball and his finish for the second goal was clinical.

Tom Heaton 6/10: Solid on the whole though maybe a tad disappointed not to have stopped Puncheon’s long range equaliser

Kieran Trippier 5/10: A fabulous corner for Mee’s goal was ruined by some poor final balls from this point onward and dragged into Murray late on, leaving Gayle unmarked

Michael Keane 5/10: Partly at fault for both Gayle goals, hindering an otherwise decent performance

Jason Shackell 6/10: The best of the back four in terms of defending. He took a no-nonsense approach in all his play and made few mistakes as a result

Ben Mee 6/10: Got in at the far post to dispatch the early goal from the corner but allowed Zaha too much time to get Palace back into the game

George Boyd 6/10: A willing runner always and some excellent touches, but didn’t take his excellent form prior into this

Dean Marney 5/10:  Slack passing was eventually made to pay through Puncheon

David Jones 5/10: Like his counterpart, below par in the middle. Far too slow and negative in his passing but some wicked set-pieces

Scott Arfield 6/10: Superb pressure on Ward for Ings’ goal but soon faded

Ashley Barnes 5/10: Got little joy out of the centre halves and couldn’t hold the ball upfield

Crystal Palace MOTM

Jason Puncheon 8/10: The main catalyst for the visitors’ upturn in fortunes in the second half. A classy goal, even if Heaton may be a little disappointed with himself, followed by an assist for the winner capped a fine display for the maestro.

Speroni 5, Ward 5, Dann 6, Delaney 6, Kelly 6, Zaha 7, McArthur 7, Ledley 6, Gayle 7, Sanogo 7

Where Next?

After a week off with the FA Cup, Burnley travel to Wearside to take on a Sunderland team, now operating with a goal threat in Jermain Defoe to complement a respectable back line. This game against Palace ending the way it did will have floored the confidence in the camp, despite the momentum built up beforehand. At the Stadium of Light, Sunderland will fancy their chances at returning to winning ways after a poor run of form. Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Burnley