Dan Black's verdict as Championship leaders Burnley show they can cope in the heat of battle with hard-fought three points at Luton
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The Premier League Hall of Famer didn't win 10 domestic titles with Manchester City by solely playing in a manner that was pleasing on the eye.
For every David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne or Raheem Sterling there was always a James Milner, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho or Nicolas Otamendi during his days at the Etihad.
The battle-hardened Belgian experienced the warfare of the Premier League's battlefields time and time again during his 265 appearances in the top flight and he wouldn't have had it any other way.
The 36-year-old has quite rightly and, rather astutely, transferred that mentality to his management style, having taken on his first coaching role in English football.
Yes, Burnley are the runaway leaders in the Championship, they're the highest scorers of the 92 clubs in the four-tiered hierarchy, and they've averaged 62.3 percent possession in the second tier this term.
But it would be very naive of anyone to suggest that the Clarets are simply a 'one-trick pony'. Don't let it be said that the table-toppers lack the strong-jaw to match their 'awe', or the graft to match their craft.
Only eight clubs — Arsenal, City, Newcastle United, Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Leyton Orient and Stevenage — have conceded fewer goals this term and only four — Leyton Orient (20), Sheffield Wednesday (18), Bolton Wanderers (17) and Coventry City (15) — have kept more clean sheets.
The club's latest shut-out against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road wasn't pretty, it wasn't comfortable, but it provided further evidence that Burnley have the ability to draw on the best of both attributes, when necessary.
The battle in Bedfordshire was as "extreme" as it has been in terms of physicality and attrition so far this season, with a high-octane conflict producing a rather low-quality affair. Coming out on top, after fighting in the trenches, was a badge of honour for the three-time Sky Bet Manager of the Month, though.
That’s why pigeon-holing Burnley into a certain bracket doesn't sit well with Kompany: “The thing is you’re always looking to exploit the weakness of the opponent and I would say that for the game we play, I think we’d be put in a family of teams that usually don’t like this type of games.
“But I think for me it couldn’t be any further from the truth. We actually like these type of games and we have an idea of what we want to do with the ball and that’s why we’ve had a lot of good football this season.
"If it’s not possible, we’re not hurt by the fact the performance was like this. We take pride in it and I think other teams would be hurt by this type of performance because it’s not the way they play.
“For me, there is a way that you set out to play every time, but today I could've written on paper everything that could have gone wrong and we handled it really well.”
Winning ugly is the mark of a champion. The Hatters had lost just once in 11 league games at home, they'd won three of their last four, and they'd only failed to score once — in a goal-less draw with Reading — in 13 outings on their own patch.
And you can see why Rob Edwards' side continue to punch above their weight at this level. The play-off hopefuls were intimidating, athletic, suffocating, physical and frenetic, imposing themselves in a way that zapped their opponents' ball-playing powers.
The visitors were disoriented in the first half, and Town attempted to capitalise on their bullish tactics, as Arijanet Muric turned Elijah Adebayo's attempt round the post, before the ex-Walsall striker made a mess of the finish from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's pull back. The DR Congo international also tested Muric from the edge of the box.
However, once again, the league leaders found a way, having made a few structural tweaks to get a foothold in the game. They managed just two shots on target over the 90, but that's all that was required to secure a fifth win in succession on the road.
After Johann Berg Gudmundsson's set-piece was palmed clear at the foot of his post by Ethan Horvath in the opening quarter, it was down to Ashley Barnes to hold his nerve from the spot, just as he had on the previous nine occasions for the club.
The squad's longest-serving member had beaten Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Alisson (Liverpool), Ben Foster (Watford), Matt Ryan (Brighton), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Joe Lewis (Aberdeen), Heurelho Gomes (Watford), Vito Mannone (Sunderland) and Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City) in past attempts, and he sent the Nottingham Forest stopper the wrong way after Gabriel Osho had handled Vitinho's flick.
Luton skipper Tom Lockyer was dismissed for dissent seconds later. “I think this game sits a little bit in a category of its own, it’s just good to have the win because there’s always the extremes," Kompany said. "You can play against Swansea really well and Norwich and Watford and then they go ‘can you go to Luton and do it as well?’
“These type of wins are extremely valuable for, no matter what happens from now until the end of the season, you can always go back to it and say ‘look boys, this is what we have to do and we can do it’.
"If you look at everything this game was demanding; after every long ball there's a challenge, after every challenge there's a second ball and another challenge, after every second challenge there's a decision to make, whether you clear the ball or keep hold of it. This game demands more of a focus, nous and experience. In that sense it was a very good game."
It brought up a 12th game unbeaten, a 29th game in succession in which they'd scored, a 13th clean sheet, and a 31st point on the road. Their away record now reads better than the home form of 19 of their rivals in the Championship.
And they're quickly reeling in Sheffield United (33), Middlesbrough (32), Blackburn Rovers (31) and Millwall (31), who they meet at The Den on Tuesday. It's hard to see how they don't finish inside the top two now.
We can't crack open the champagne just yet, but it's on ice, waiting to be poured!