Southampton 2, Burnley 2: Chris Boden’s thoughts as the search for a first Premier League win continues

Brought in to add to Sean Dyche’s options in the wide areas, he was expected to be more of a provider of goals than the source.

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 11:25 am
Updated Sunday, 24th October 2021, 11:26 am
Maxwel Cornet

But Maxwel Cornet’s prowess as a taker, as much as a maker, of chances, could be a huge bonus for the Clarets.

The Ivory Coast international spent much of his last 17 months at Lyon at left back, which explains why he only scored twice in his last 36 games for the club.

As in France, he has been happy to play wherever he has been asked, as Dyche noted: “The thing we're most pleased with is not that he looks like his play can affect us, obviously, but also his mentality. You ask him to move positions, and it's 'okay, I'll do it for the team', and he does.

"He's bought into the fact that he has to work.”

That willingness to do a job has been a breath of fresh air.

And, deployed off the front at Manchester City early on last week, and again at St Mary’s, he has shown that he clearly needs to play as close to goal as possible, scoring three in his first four Premier League appearances.

Indeed, in terms of goals per minute, three in 213, so far Cornet’s strikes have come at a rate of 1.27 per game.

He has three Premier League goals from seven shots, five of which have been on target.

Remarkably, that doesn’t tell the full story of his impact, as he could have had even more in his limited game time to date.

Since his exciting cameo against Arsenal, where he had a big chance on his right foot, he could have had, at the very least, a hat-trick in the Carabao Cup against Rochdale, and then found the net at Leicester City before being forced off at half-time with a hamstring niggle.

He then returned at Manchester City, who know all about his ability in front of goal, having scored four in his three Champions League outings against Pep Guardiola’s men, and he should have found the net again at the Etihad.

At Southampton, his impact was crucial, in what could prove a big point come the end of the season.

Yes, Burnley continue to wait for a first Premier League win of the season, nine games in, but this was a game the Clarets couldn’t afford to lose, and Cornet made sure of that.

All five of their goals in the first eight games had put the Clarets ahead, but they have been unable to turn that into wins.

On the south coast, Cornet’s first again put Burnley in front, only for the Saints to turn the game around.

But Cornet’s picture book second was the first time this season the Clarets had scored when behind, and earned a good point.

The game was almost a battle between Cornet and Saints right back Valentino Livramento, who, at 18, looks some prospect.

While Cornet beat the Croydon-born former Chelsea youngster to head in Matt Lowton’s pin-point cross after 13 minutes, the flow of the game seemed to depend on which player was on top.

While not always directly in opposition, Cornet’s movement and strength caused problems for the youngster, but when he was caught too high up the pitch, the England Under 21 international saw the gap and rampaged down that side.

That led to Saints’ only real spell of pressure in the game - although it was sustained and led to three huge chances, before Livramento headed in the equaliser from a Nathan Redmond corner.

That came after Theo Walcott poked horribly wide when clear on the break from Redmond’s ball, before Livramento cut inside and sent a shot against the far post.

Then came the miss of the Millennium from Redmond, who somehow managed to drag an Armando Broja centre wide, with the entire goal at his mercy.

The goal was coming, and Livramento headed down and in after losing Josh Brownhill.

You feared the worst when James Tarkowski, after a Cruyff turn to beat Broja, came the ball away to Ibrahima Diallo, and his instant pass gave Broja the chance to drive at Tarkowski and find the corner.

But when Chris Wood chested down Nick Pope’s goal kick, Ashley Westwood fed Cornet, who spun Jan Bednarek and unleashed an unerring half volley into the bottom corner.

It was a devastating finish, as he surged clear as Burnley’s top Premier League goalscorer this season.

The Clarets need more than just Cornet firing, however, and although Wood was involved in both goals, on his 300th start in English football, overall, his hold up play was disappointing, as he was dominated physically by Mohammed Salisu.

The Kiwi is the only Burnley striker with a Premier League goal this season, and although he had an effort shovelled away by Alex McCarthy in the first half, after good interplay with Cornet and Dwight McNeil, he looks short on confidence at present.

Defensively, the Clarets also don’t look like themselves, giving away the type of goals you wouldn’t associate with a Dyche team.

The balance between being effective going forward, and solid at the back, remains elusive, and until that comes, that first win may also be hard to come by.