A Mark Noble penalty and dismissal for veteran Michael Duff proved to be enough to tame the Clarets despite their best attempts with ten men to salvage something from Sam Allardyce’s struggling West Ham team. The home side were hardly mesmeric in their play but did just enough to see Burnley off and temporarily satisfy their frustrated fans.
1st half highlights
– Aaron Cresswell powered down his left hand side, sending over one of his notorious wicked deliveries which fell perfectly into the midriff of Enner Valencia, who somehow failed to connect
– Kieran Trippier’s clever little dink towards Danny Ings almost proved the catalyst for an opener as the Clarets striker turned his man excellently but his flash across the six yard box has no one on the end of it to tap home
– Ings was again in the thick of the action though this time, having been superbly picked out by Matt Taylor from the wing – with young Reece Burke not following his run – he could only direct his header over with the goal at his mercy
WEST HAM 1-0 Burnley (Noble, 24 (p))
INCIDENT: Cheikhou Kouyate had Michael Duff where he wanted him. The Burnley defender was slow to read the midfielder’s movements and after he had jinked inside the dangling leg of Duff was exactly what he wanted. Kouyate saw the opportunity to win the penalty and rightfully got it. It was a clear trip and perhaps a yellow card.
RED CARD: Referee Jon Moss sent off Duff, who appeared shocked and angry. He was right to be as well for there were enough Burnley bodies behind the ball to stop Kouyate from scoring. Yes he was close to goal but it wasn’t necessary a clear chance to score.
THE PENALTY: Mark Noble is generally a dab hand from the spot and has been an integral figure for the Hammers for many seasons now. His coolness from the spot – slotting to the right as Tom Heaton leaped the other way – epitomises his overall game.
– Stewart Downing stormed past Ben Mee and his low delivery across the box picked out Valencia who had his point blank range effort superbly parried by Heaton
– Heaton wasn’t allowed much of a breather from his fantastic reaction stop with Morgan Amalfitano finding himself in an inviting position though his powerful volley was pushed out by the Clarets stopper at his near post
– Kieran Trippier’s excellent corner caught West Ham napping and an unmarked Ashley Barnes was on hand to power a header from ten yards only for Adrian to pull of a fine instinctive save with his legs
2nd half highlights
– Carl Jenkinson took Matt Taylor on almost immediately into the second half and his low cross was diverted into the side netting by Kevin Nolan’s outstretched foot
– Ings was having a greater influence on proceedings and looking to take the game by the scruff of the neck, this time with an excellent first touch to take Cresswell out of the equation, but the angle was too narrow as he bore down on goal and he could only find the side netting
– Nolan – having just missed an earlier opportunity – turned provider with an intelligent flick that took out both Burnley centre halves and set up Amalfitano for what should have been a certain goal with only Heaton to beat but the Frenchman went for the spectacular and curled wide
– Taylor looked to be the catalyst for an equaliser against his old team with a turn and shot from Scott Arfield’s grounded pass which once more was blocked by Adrian’s leg and it was enough to see the ball spin agonisingly away from the goal
– From Taylor’s unfortunate effort, West Ham broke down the pitch and eventually the ball was worked to Cresswell. The left back had the vision to pick out an unmarked Nolan from 12 yards but the midfielder, famous for his goals in the box, fired poorly, straight at Heaton and after he blocked the ball was scrambled wide
– Carlton Cole – a man who seems to find the net regularly against the Clarets – anchored a header back across goal and just over the bar with his first touch following a Downing cross
– Cole was out to add to his personal tally against Burnley though from another Downing assist – this time a reverse pass in the box – his side foot finish lacked the necessary power to trouble Heaton
Penalty antics cost Clarets but referee to blame
First and foremost, Duff did not cover himself in glory for the penalty incident. The 37-year-old has been vital to the solidity of Burnley’s back line though he momentarily showed his age with his slow reading of the ball and the way in which he allowed Kouyate to step inside him. At this point the Senegalese international had Duff where he wanted him as he lazily dangled out his leg. A clear penalty. What is disappointing is what followed.
As Noble prepared to get the ball and put it on the spot, referee Moss showed Duff a straight red card, much to the centre half’s amazement. The challenge was clumsy and as he brought down Kouyate, he was preparing a shot from eight yards. So yes you could give the red however with so many bodies back on the line and a lack of a target as a result, it could also be argued that the opportunity was not a clear goalscoring one. Inevitably, it was a very harsh decision and it made the doable task of beating the out-of-form Hammers on their own turf an incredibly challenging one.
It was such a massive decision from Moss and so frustrating from a Burnley perspective. Because if you take away the penalty, West Ham couldn’t break down Burnley’s ten men and were given a decent game by the visitors. It does beg the question what Burnley could have done with 11 players because certainly you could envisage a potential three points. You would have said that for Burnley not to win this game is a massive opportunity wasted but that dismissal tarnishes that opportunity.
What must be commended however is the Clarets’ ability to fight and graft. At the end of the day, fighting and grafting doesn’t keep you in the division if you don’t have the required quality to go alongside it but you cannot fault triers and if every player is giving their all for the supporters then you have to stand and applaud them anyway.
It’s in stark contrast with the scenes at Newcastle United, where they have just been severely battered by fellow relegation rivals Leicester in a performance that epitomised an incredibly sorry sight. No fight. No desire. No sign of hope. For those fans on Tyneside, many are watching nervously over their shoulders but also angrily as they watch teams fighting at the bottom showing determination and grit. Yet their team are massively on the slide and don’t look in the slightest bit interested. It’s disgusting and the incredible support that fill St James Park and travel week in week out deserve far, far better.
Ings cares but team can’t meet his needs
It has been highly documented that Danny Ings looks frustrated and sluggish in his game play. Though you have to feel for the 22-year-old because every time he misses a chance and doesn’t have a desired impact on a match he is castrated by the fans who claim he is waiting for his move in the summer to a bigger club and has lost the desire this season. Is it any wonder if he is frustrated?
Quite frankly, people are asking too much of him. He cannot beat two defenders and find the top corner from 25 yards every time Burnley need a goal yet that is what some people seem to think he should be doing. Against Everton, Ings made a run from inside the opponents half into his own 18-yard box to make a brilliant last-ditch tackle on Seamus Coleman. Yet people will point out the time he failed to chase down a defender in possession or the time he threw his arms up in the air having not been picked out with a pass. If anything, the voices that have questioned his commitment and his inability to find the net have been the catalyst for his ‘dip’ in form.
Comparisons between him and Sadio Berahino have been rife this campaign. Berahino is not far from the 20 goal mark for Albion which is a mightily impressive feat for him personally though he wouldn’t have scored half the number of goals in the Burnley team. He relies on the service of his team mates and that he’ll get a number of chances a game because he doesn’t score every time. Ings, in fairness, should probably have hit the net with his first half header on Saturdat though his critics will now question his inability to score goals.
Ings isn’t Diego Costa for goodness sake and people need to realise he’s trying his damnedest to keep Burnley in the division but it must be hard for him when some of his own fans have made unhelpful comments.
A mid-table Championship squad…
I made the statement earlier in one of my articles that this current Burnley squad is a squad befitting of a mid-table Championship position and although it caused a few disagreements, I’d like to reiterate that statement, barring two, three, maybe four players in the squad that could push for spots in stable Premier League clubs. Ings of course is a top flight player with his quality – though I wouldn’t say he should be in the view of your Manchester Uniteds and Liverpools in my opinion – while Trippier, Shackell and Heaton I believe could play for your Newcastles and your West Hams.
Then you analyse the rest of the players. Ben Mee has been heavily found out at times this season defensively and although he has improved, there are many better options out there. Michael Duff is 37 years old and on the brink of retirement. David Jones and Scott Arfield? Stable heads in the centre of midfield and rejected by their former clubs who deemed them not good enough. George Boyd? He has a cracking shot on him and is an ever willing runner but he severely lacks pace, passing and dribbling. I’m picking out some of the regular starters at the moment and for me you’re looking at players in that range of mid to upper championship teams. So my statement is valid when you weigh out some of the other names. Lukas Jutkiewicz is a failed striker in the first and second tier of English football, Marvin Sordell the same.
You have to remember that season Burnley went to the Premier League. The odds of relegation were significantly higher than the odds for promotion – which were distant at best. What’s changed? Nothing. It’s practically the same personnel (minus Ings next season) that – under a miracle-working manager – performed out of their skins to battle their way to automatic promotion against teams with significantly better players. Hence why Sean Dyche was labelled the ‘Ginger Mourinho’, as his achievements were nothing short of remarkable. Put Stuart Pearce, for example, in charge of the Burnley team and you wouldn’t be looking past a 12th placed finish in that promotion season. Hell, the record lowest points total in the Premier League would have been up for competition this year.
In response to some calls for calm if the manager leaves, in the hope that a younger model comes in to the role, I say you have to think of the bigger picture. Dyche plays very direct often because it’s the best he can do with the players that he has. He plays 4-4-2 because the quality of the final pass into the box often isn’t good enough to pick out just one body. Two bodies in there means that average crosses can trouble defenders more. Trust me, he’s made his fair share of mistakes this season, that I’ll address later on in the season in an article but he shouldn’t be having the opportunity to make these mistakes as Burnley shouldn’t be in the Premier League. It’s down to his miracles that they are where they are and who can pick up the mantle to perform a second miracle and get Burnley promoted, minus talisman Ings? Let’s just say he’d have to be one in a trillion!
…but there are three games to go
It’s imperative that the standards aren’t allowed to slide until May 24th. Dyche has referred to “myths, legends and folklore” as the final three games approach and even though the drop is all but confirmed, Burnley must take the positive attitude radiated my the manager into the matches with Hull, Stoke and Aston Villa. As Dyche has stated many times earlier in the season, “we wanted this,” and what a shame it would be to go down with a whimper.
Next Saturday’s clash at the KC Stadium offers the chance of upsetting the hosts bid to survive the drop. If your own fate looks doomed, the incentive should then be to ruin other teams’ ambitions and that should provide enough for the Clarets to want to overturn the Tigers.
Jason Shackell 8/10: Has really developed his game throughout his tenure with the Clarets. Originally a signing from Eddie Howe, Shackell has really come on leaps and bounds under current manager Sean Dyche and the original fee paid of £1 million to Derby now seems a snip. Even in the desperate circumstances such as Saturday, when his team were down to ten men, his calmness and reading of the game was first class. If other clubs do begin circling, the one positive is that in today’s market the Clarets could command a hefty fee for their captain.
Tom Heaton 7/10: One fabulous one handed stop to deny Valencia and a number of decent saves to go alongside that
Kieran Trippier 7/10: Some improved corner deliveries that caused the Hammers problems and did well defensively, putting his body on the line on occasions
Michael Duff N/A: Sluggish to allow Valencia into the box for the penalty and a poor challenge but rather unlucky to be dismissed
Ben Mee 6/10: Decent game defensively but still flatters to deceive going forward
George Boyd 5/10: Lots of running but this he really has been living on this ‘marathon man’ tag and his wonder strike against Manchester City
Scott Arfield 6/10: Lots of running, endeavour and always looking for a killer pass but quality was lacking
David Jones 7/10: Improvement on his recent performances and really battling performance for the Clarets
Matt Taylor 7/10: Hardly a revolutionary player but his final ball is perhaps something that Burnley have missed for large quantities this season. Some lovely final passes that almost lead to goals
Danny Ings 7/10: Looked up for this encounter and really tried his best to make things happen. Missed a golden chance but his effort and quality cannot be faulted
Ashley Barnes 6/10: Always wanted to get involved but little breaks such as his first half header and second half miss-header didn’t go for him
West Ham MOTM
Aaron Cresswell 8/10: How well has he devloped this season? The most assists in the Championship last season for Ipswich Town and I suggested Burnley may consider a move for the youngster. As it is, he moved to London and has not looked back. A real force of nature, especially when going forward where he is in the same vein as the likes of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines in my eyes. It’s no wonder Manchester City are keeping a close eye on him and from the outset, he looked to cause the Burnley defence countless problems.
Adrian 7, Jenkinson 8, Collins 6, Burke 6, Noble 6, Kouyate 7, Nolan 6, Downing 7, Amalfitano 6, Valencia 5
Hull (A): While it’s still mathematically possible (and even when it’s not), the Clarets must make the best of their remaining fixtures and give their all for the travelling supporters.
Had it been eleven a-side at the Boleyn Ground, the affair may have ended differently and the fact the hosts only broke through with a penalty speaks volumes about the solidity of Burnley’s defending. Hull have it all to play for but Burnley will be professional and resilient, even if they may not find a way through at the other end. Prediction: Hull 0-0 Burnley
Do you agree with Jonny’s assessment? Comment below.