Opinion: Burnley's first home win had been coming, but no-one predicted such a one-sided thrashing of Sheffield United
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The Clarets played well against Crystal Palace, controlling the game only to give up two soft goals. As analysed previously, it was a game Burnley somehow transpired to lose against a side that didn’t even attempt to score, never mind win the game. Figure that one out.
Next up was THAT West Ham game. Quite frankly, the less said about it the better. But Burnley came within four minutes of a much-needed three points, yet again still somehow managed to lose, conceding twice during the dying moments.
The frustrating thing is, had Vincent Kompany’s held on for what would have been a deserved three points against the Hammers, they’d be sitting outside the bottom three at this moment in time. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.
As it is, they remain inside the relegation places but the mood and the general outlook, at least, is a whole lot better.
That’s courtesy of a dominant victory against a quite frankly hapless Sheffield United side. If this is how the Blades perform in a so-called must-win encounter at the bottom end of the division, we can already write them off as one of the three sides who will drop back down to the Championship.
Take nothing away from Burnley though, because they were fabulous. As mentioned, there was a lot riding on this game. Lose for the eighth consecutive time on home turf and the writing would have been on the wall.
While it’s understood Kompany’s job is safe regardless of whether Burnley stay up or not, there would inevitably have been questions raised about his position had the result not been a positive one.
In previous home games there have been real signs of anxiety. That sense of trepidation from the terraces has seeped into performances, but there was none of that on this occasion.
Instead, the Clarets took just 15 seconds – yes you read that right – to take the lead courtesy of a stooping header from Jay Rodriguez. That’s two in two now for the experienced frontman, who has stepped up to the plate in the absence of Lyle Foster.
He wasn’t on his own though, because this was an all-round superb team performance. It would be wrong to pick out individuals.
A second duly arrived through Jacob Bruun Larsen, who capped off his first league start of the campaign with a coolly taken finish.
It’s important to state at this point that Burnley were well in control of the game. The visitors were offering very, very little. Had the game remained 11 vs 11, they still would have won comfortably.
As it was, Paul Heckingbottom’s men made life a little easier for the home side when the moronic Oli McBurnie, who somehow escaped a straight red for a clear elbow on Dara O’Shea, was eventually dismissed for a second yellow in first-half stoppage time.
It was a complete lack of self-discipline from the apparent experienced striker, yet it aligned with Sheffield United’s overall display. They committed nightly fouls all afternoon, were lucky to only receive eight yellow cards – two of which were for McBurnie – and had no answer to Burnley’s suave superiority. The only way they could compete was to hack and claw at their opponents.
There was a moment in the game where things threatened to boil over, which would have been the worst thing to happen from Burnley’s point of view given their dominance. They just needed to keep a cool head and see out the remainder of the game.
That they did thanks to a mature second-half display. For much of it it was rather dull. Sheffield United made no attempt to get back in the game and seemed content to keep it at two.
Burnley kept the ball and kept the ball some more, tiring out their bedraggled rivals and getting their reward late on with a quick fire treble. It was nothing more than they deserved.
What a day
All in all, this was just about the perfect 90 minutes. A win, most importantly, but also a first clean sheet of the season. Five goals shared out among five different scorers. Hjalmar Ekdal getting his first league action of the season. Michael Obafemi getting more minutes under his belt. The list goes on.
Not only that, the Clarets also lifted themselves off the foot of the table by recording their biggest ever Premier League win.
At this stage all that mattered was getting the three points, how they came about was almost immaterial. But Burnley were in dire need of a big shot in the arm and boy, if this doesn’t deliver it, then nothing will.
Kompany will be keen to remain level headed though. He won’t allow his players to get carried away.
Instead, he revealed he’d be enjoying the sweet taste of three points with a glass of wine before quickly turning his attention to the trip to Wolves on Tuesday night.
This one win, only the second of the campaign, doesn’t solve all of Burnley’s ills, no-one is daft enough to claim that. The fact that both of Burnley’s victories have come against fellow promoted sides is telling itself.
But what this win should do is give Burnley confidence. It’s all well and good telling everyone you still believe, but that’s got to wane at some point if the results don’t follow.
Now the task is to follow this up. Over to you, Clarets…