Burnley 1, Watford 0

The Clarets came out on top against Watford as the Premier League's two surprise packages went head-to-head at Turf Moor.

Saturday, 9th December 2017, 5:21 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 5:08 pm
Scott Arfield fired the Clarets ahead just before half time

Nobody would have expected the clubs to be positioned seventh and eighth in the top flight 15 games in to the season but both sides have defied the odds week in, week out.

As it was, Scott Arfield's first half strike proved the difference as Burnley kept a seventh clean sheet of the term to see off their 10 man opposition and stay level on points with fifth place Spurs.

Marco Silva could be seen remonstrating with referee Lee Probert at the interval after his side were reduced to 10 men.

Scott Arfield fired the Clarets ahead just before half time

The Hornets were up against it from the 39th minute when Marvin Zeegelaar's clumsily over-exubberant challenge on Steven Defour was punished with a red card.

The 27-year-old Dutchman, who played against Burnley at Turf Moor in a loan spell for Blackpool in the Championship four years ago, flew in to the tackle unnecessarily with the ball safely camped in the home side's half.

And Sean Dyche's side wasted no time in capitalising as they broke the deadlock right on half-time.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson supplied the cross from the right hand side, Jeff Hendrick allowed the ball to run, and once Arfield beat Daryl Janmaat the midfielder coolly slid the ball across Heurelho Gomes and in to the corner.

Scott Arfield fired the Clarets ahead just before half time

The visitors had a couple of chances to open the scoring early on, but Troy Deeney headed wide from close range after Roberto Pereyra had helped on Tom Cleverley's corner.

Then Richarlison should've done much better when getting on the end of Andre Carrillo's delivery at full stretch but the Brazilian poked the ball wide of the upright.

In the absence of Robbie Brady, who suffered a serious knee injury in last weekend's defeat to Leicester City, set-piece duties were left to Gudmundsson once the Icelandic winger had his feet taken from under him by Cleverley midway through the half.

And Gudmundsson certainly matched his team-mate's prowess in those situations, drawing a splendid save from Gomez low to the goalkeeper's left after whipping the ball around the wall.

The former Spurs stopper did well again shortly after, leaping to deny Chris Wood as the record signing's chip just lacked the elevation to prove troublesome.

At the opposite end, Nick Pope did well to keep Abdoulaye Doucoure's volley out and, sandwiched in-between the sending off and Arfield's goal, substitute Jose Holebas rifled in to the side-netting from an acute angle.

The Clarets could and should have been out of sight in the second half but for two contentious decisions from the referee's assistant.

Substitute Ashley Barnes didn't seem to show enough interest in the ball when Jack Cork guided Gudmundsson's lofted pass to the back post for Wood to tap home.

And he definitely wasn't interfering when the striker had the ball in the net again moments later.

Arfield's pass, intended for Wood, was cut out but the ball ricocheted to Barnes off a Watford defender and the forward finished past Gomes.

Probert looked to have over-ruled his assistant in the first instance but after much deliberation, and a lengthy conversation, he awarded a Hornets free kick.

Steven Defour whipped a set-piece just over the angle of the goal as the hosts looked gain the cushion they deserved and Gudmundsson forced Gomes in to another fine save after cutting on to his left foot, with Wood unable to re-adjust to convert the rebound.