Burnley 3, Brentford 1: Chris Boden’s thoughts on a very welcome three points

Every point is precious in the Premier League.

By Chris Boden
Sunday, 31st October 2021, 9:04 am
Matt Lowton heads Burnleys second
Matt Lowton heads Burnleys second

But a first win of the season, at the 10th attempt, to mark Sean Dyche’s ninth anniversary in charge, and end a run without a home league victory stretching back to January? Priceless!

If you could have distilled everything good about Dyche’s Burnley side in nigh-on a decade in charge, this performance would pretty much have been it.

When the Clarets are at their best under Dyche, they are a full-throttle, 100mph, in your face side, who play with a real intensity and desire, all topped off with moments of genuine quality.

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In a game that, while not ‘must-win’ just yet, was certainly ‘could really do with winning’, Burnley blew Brentford away by half-time, making a mockery of the Bees’ excellent start to the season.

Thomas Frank’s players have beaten Arsenal, drawn with Liverpool and pushed Chelsea all the way at home, disrupting opponents’ rhythm with their high-octane pressing, rattling into tackles and dominating the second ball.

They have been one of the most combative teams in the division so far, adapting to play with a controlled aggression after winning plaudits for their more aesthetically-pleasing football in winning promotion.

You could have used most of those terms to describe the Clarets on Saturday, and while Dyche has been fair in saying his side haven’t been far away from getting it right this season, when they put it all together as they did, particularly in a rampant first half, they are a force to be reckoned with.

They set the standard in blowing away the Bees.

Brentford, like Burnley, are happy to play without the ball, the Bees beating Arsenal on the opening weekend with 35% possession.

So you wondered how the Clarets would play things, whether they would allow Brentford the ball and look to force errors, or go on the front foot.

And while Burnley finished with 41% possession, from the first whistle it was obvious it was the latter, moving the ball forward quickly and often, stretching a Brentford defence which couldn’t cope with the movement and physicality of Chris Wood, the pace and touch of Maxwel Cornet, and the positivity of Dwight McNeil and Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

Those four were so effective, backed up by the quality of passing and delivery from Ashley Westwood and raids down the flanks from both full backs Matt Lowton and Charlie Taylor.

Lowton spoke before the game of wanting “to contribute a bit more going forward”, having already claimed two assists this term.

He made that three with a sublime ball for Wood’s opener, which Ethan Pinnock was unable to defend, with Wood taking out all his frustration at only scoring once so far this season on a thumping finish.

Lowton then popped up at the far post to rise above Rico Henry and head in Taylor’s centre, from one full back to the other.

In between, Cornet had a left foot strike ruled out from Wood’s header on, after Westwood fed through another superb pass, as Wood was adjudged to be off-side when VAR took a look - although the naked eye couldn’t have told you that.

Gudmundsson couldn’t quite open his body up enough to finish when one on one from a brilliant volleyed Westwood throughball, with backspin, while there was a big moment when Nick Pope got down quickly to stop Ivan Toney equalising, which would have been hugely against the run of play, but could have changed the context of the game.

After Lowton made it 2-0, the confidence coursed through Burnley, and they continued to win the ball high and early, with some delightful combinations seeing Gudmundsson and Wood go close, before McNeil fed Cornet, and, as it looked like the chance may have gone after shifting the ball back onto his right foot, the infectious Ivorian thumped an effort unerringly into the top corner to make it four goals in as many starts in the Premier League.

Talk about an instant impact…

With the game won at half-time, the second half was a case of whether Burnley could maintain that tempo, and while they started in that vein, with Wood glancing a gorgeous Lowton cross across the face of goal, Brentford finally began to show some intent, and Toney poked an effort wide of goal after a mix up between Ben Mee - the skipper returning to the side at the expense of the unfortunate Nathan Collins - and Pope.

And the Bees pulled one back through a superb volley from substitute Saman Ghoddos, but that was the only negative on the day, that what would have been only a second clean sheet went up in smoke.

Otherwise, this was a much-needed three points, and, curiously, the Clarets now have more points after 10 games than last season, when they didn’t win until game eight, and stayed up with 11 points to spare.

This is only the start, however, and the Clarets must build on this as soon as possible, although they won’t be expected to upset the apple cart next week against European champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The current make up of the side, however, gives great optimism that Dyche’s 10th anniversary will also be spent in the Premier League, if they continue to blend their renowned miserly defence with a more fluid and fluent forward line.