Jay Rodriguez stakes his claim as Burnley advance in the FA Cup - Chris Boden’s match verdict
Can it really be eight years since Jay Rodriguez slalomed through the Peterborough defence to score one of the most memorable Burnley goals of the last decade?
The 17th goal of his most prolific campaign saw him skate across the snow at Turf Moor before a typically confident finish.
Come the close season, his form attracted what was a club-record £7m from Southampton.
Now back at his hometown club, he has appeared in every one of Burnley’s 21 Premier League games to date this season, but only five of those have been starts.
However, he has been banging on the door for a jersey of late, and another outstanding display of finishing against the Posh could well see him get his wish.
In only his seventh start in all competitions, he took his tally to six goals for the season, drawing level with Ashley Barnes, two behind leading scorer Chris Wood.
And while Barnes is currently carrying an injury, Rodriguez’s form is such that he merits a place in the side in any case, whether that is in a front two, or as a wider forward.
He has made a difference in two cameos as substitute against Manchester United and Aston Villa, when he was unfortunate not to get the nod.
But he can’t be ignored at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, you imagine.
While his strike in 2012 warmed the supporters on one of the coldest days on the Turf in recent memory, his brace on Saturday came as a welcome relief after three-successive Premier League defeats.
Rodriguez twice provided an unerring finish in this one-sided FA Cup tie, giving the Clarets an early lead with a poacher’s goal after Wood had a header saved, before drilling into the corner to make it 4-1 from a fine reverse pass from Aaron Lennon.
He walked away with your sponsors’ man of the match award, having demonstrated what he can offer.
Wood and Barnes have been an effective pairing, certainly in terms of goals scored, but you could argue that Rodriguez is the better foil for either, as his link play demonstrated at times.
Capable of playing anywhere across the front, he took up clever positions, finding space between the lines, and combined well with Wood, showing his footballing intelligence.
His was one of a number of players to lay down markers, as Sean Dyche made eight changes from the hugely-disappointing defeat to Aston Villa on New Year’s Day.
Charlie Taylor will take some shifting at left back, but Erik Pieters turned in an impressive display in the first half, which included a superb 25-yard half-volley to make it 2-0.
He then filled in to good effect in advance of Taylor, after Johann Berg Gudmundsson was forced off at the break.
That was the only downside on the day, the Iceland international suffering yet another hamstring injury on his first start since October.
Aaron Lennon did his cause for filling in no harm at all with an energetic performance, full of threat, as he went inside and out, showing his vision.
Jeff Hendrick, who scored the third via a deflection off Posh centre back Mark Beevers, and Jack Cork dictated the tempo from the centre, moving the ball with the sort of pace and purpose that has been missing in recent Premier League performances - albeit Peterborough’s pressure left much to be desired.
All in all, it was an encouraging afternoon, as Burnley, who had been somewhat passive of late, particularly in the first half of games, went out on the front foot, and effectively killed off what could have been a tricky cup tie, within the opening quarter of the game.
Credit to Peterborough, who stayed honest and gave the scoreline some respectability with a tidy finish from the 17-goal Ivan Toney and a close range effort from substitute Ricky Jade-Jones, aided by some less than impressive defending.
But the Clarets were convincing winners, scoring more goals than they had had shots on target in the previous four Premier League outings.
Things won’t get any easier in the big league, with the next four opponents being Chelsea away, Leicester at home, Manchester United away and Arsenal at home, but they should glean some confidence from this display.
And they will also have a fourth round tie to look forward to following the trip to Old Trafford, as they look to put the sort of cup run together which has evaded the club, who have only twice earned a quarter-final berth in the last 37 years.
While winning the competition is unlikely - and the balance and business of modern day football sadly means staying in the Premier League is significantly more important than actually lifting a trophy - maybe advancing in the cup could go arm in arm with picking up the points necessary for a fifth-successive top flight season?