Brighton 0, Burnley 3: Chris Boden's thoughts on an enjoyable afternoon on the south coast

What a difference a win makes.

By Chris Boden
Sunday, 20th February 2022, 10:13 am
Updated Sunday, 20th February 2022, 10:14 am

After winning their first league game at the 10th time of asking in October, it took another 12 outings to register a second victory.

And despite a case of Planes, Trains and Automobiles to make the trip amid Storm Eunice - with the Clarets forced to abort plans to fly, and take a six-hour coach journey instead, it turned into an afternoon to savour on the south coast.

Boss Sean Dyche felt recent performances had pointed towards such a result being close, after getting back to basics at Arsenal, that it was just a matter of taking their chances, and continuing their good work at the back.

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Wout Weghorst celebrates his opening goal at Brighton

He said: “Certainly the last five games...we went down to Arsenal, very good performance, followed that up with other good performances and not got the rewards I thought we deserved, and today we did.

"The details we've talked about all season we delivered, and that made a big difference.

"That's been coming, and I'm pleased for the players.”

And he added: "They deserve that feeling, they've worked hard for it, and it's not about getting carried away or not, it's the reality of a season's work - you can't use the words I use and go mad over one result, but we enjoy the moment, and our fans should as well.”

Burnley are far from out of the woods yet, but the manner of the way they dismantled Brighton has to give everyone hope.

The Clarets became only the third side to score at least twice in the first half against Albion this season; after Manchester City and Liverpool, as they finally got three points for their endeavours, after drawing with West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester United in their previous eight games; and being unfortunate to lose by a solitary goal to Liverpool.

While Dyche was delighted to see his side get the details right, this wasn’t a day when they just got on the right side of the margins - they were full value for their win, having started on the front foot, and taken full advantage.

As Dyche celebrated 250 Premier League games in charge, the catalyst was January signing Wout Weghorst, who claimed his first goal since his move from Wolfsburg, and had a big hand in a second for Josh Brownhill.

The Netherlands international’s statistics marked him down as an upgrade on the departed Chris Wood, and his performances have suggested as much - while he will certainly score goals, he has claimed two assists in four games, as opposed to none in 17 for the New Zealander.

The only thing missing in his first three appearances was a goal, with Dyche saying: “He will score goals, I am convinced about that.”

He got off the mark with a glorious finish, sweeping home Connor Roberts’ precise pullback after a brilliant ball from the terrific Aaron Lennon.

And Weghorst then plucked an Erik Pieters clearance out of the sky and teed up Brownhill to also score his first Premier League goal, to build on his impressive display against Liverpool.

He also had a hand in the third for Aaron Lennon, combining with substitute Jay Rodriguez for the former England winger to whip in a glorious third.

Just as impressive as Weghorst’s touch and technique in attacking areas was his willingness to work for the team, to track back and put a foot in - which, with all due respect to Wood, is another tick in the former Alkmaar man’s box, against the Kiwi.

Four games in, Weghorst just gets it.

He has the sort of selfless manner required at Burnley, allied with a hugely impressive skill set.

Already a hero with the supporters, his stock will surely continue to rise.

And while Weghorst is a terrace favourite already, it was also good to hear Lennon’s name being sung by the travelling support.

Not always widely admired by all the fan base, the former England winger has looked to have a new lease of life of late.

He has always grafted in a Claret and Blue shirt, but he has rolled back the years recently in terms of his attacking threat, scoring at Old Trafford in December, and the third here - a brilliant finish.

His pace remains dynamic, and he looks 10 years younger at the moment, standing up to be counted at a pivotal time.

He wasn’t alone either.

Without James Tarkowski and Ashley Westwood with Covid, and the injured Charlie Taylor, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Matej Vydra, the players have given Dyche the sort of selection headaches a manager loves.

Pieters - a model professional - has filled in admirably for Taylor, while Jack Cork and Nathan Collins stated their case for another start against Spurs.

It is clear to see the players continue to pull in the same direction, and have retained belief in the methods that have brought them much success under Dyche, who said: “They've stayed clear-minded and clear-thinking about what we have to do to win games, and they've delivered without doubt today.”

Burnley have to take care of their own business and not take any notice of the results of others, and this is the standard to follow now.

If they continue in this vein, they will give their chances of a seventh-successive top-flight season a huge shot in the arm.

His players have stayed in every game this season; their biggest margin of defeat being two goals, while they now have three clean sheets in their last five games; conceding only twice to United and Liverpool.

Only seven sides have a better defensive record, and no one in the bottom half of the table has lost fewer games, while they have the best goal difference of the bottom seven clubs.

There is much to build on, but afternoons like Saturday have to become more regular occasions.