TALKING POINTS: Burnley 0, Manchester United 1

Burnley were unable to prevent Manchester United going top of the Premier League on Tuesday night at Turf Moor.
Luke Shaw fouls Johann Berg GudmundssonLuke Shaw fouls Johann Berg Gudmundsson
Luke Shaw fouls Johann Berg Gudmundsson

But there was much to admire about the performance, which pushed the Red Devils all the way for the three points.

It was only a third defeat in 11 Premier League games, at a time when the Clarets have looked their usual, hard-to-beat selves, and here are the talking points.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

World Cup winner Paul Pogba said after his goal proved the difference between the sides: “We knew it would be difficult, we knew it.

“Always when you come here, you know it’s going to be a war.

“You need to keep calm and we did this. It was very hard in the first half and then in the second half we came out with the good mentality and we got the goal. We got the result that we wanted.”

A saw a statistic after the game, half mocking that “hard place to go” cliche, noting that Burnley have won only one of their last 26 home games against Big Six sides, and avoided defeat in only four other games.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Pogba wasn’t paying lip service, though. His own performance, lauded by many, saw him forced to drive his side forward in the second half, after the Clarets had been full nuisance value in the first, setting traps with their press and blocking passing lanes, forcing United to go long from their goal kicks.

Everything Burnley did was high-octane, including their use of the ball, and you can smile at the belittling ‘they didn’t have a shot on target’ comments – David De Gea was a relieved man to see Chris Wood’s effort deflected wide off Eric Bailly.

United had to up their game, and still didn’t really stretch Nick Pope, who was only beaten by the deflection off Matt Lowton from Pogba’s well-controlled volley.

Ask former United boss Jose Mourinho how hard it is to come here.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After Spurs scraped a 1-0 win, much like United, he said: “This is the kind of match with ingredients to lose points. I’ve come here since 2013, I know Sean [Dyche], I know Burnley and I know how it is to play against them and I knew we couldn’t play the way we like to play.”

So yes, the results may not stack up against the elite at home, but don’t let it be said that it’s a fait accompli either.


While Wood went close with the deflected effort I mentioned, his all-round performance again suggested a real lack of confidence.

The New Zealand international remains joint top-scorer, but has only three goals to his name in 20 appearances so far this season, and isn’t offering much more in terms of his all-round game.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wood and Ashley Barnes in full flow are a formidable force of nature, and though Barnes looked more like his abrasive self against United, Wood seems to be struggling at present.

The pair, at their best, run the channels and stretch sides, but Burnley’s front line has looked more effective in the last couple of games when Matej Vydra has come off the bench, with Joel Mumbongo on Saturday, and Jay Rodriguez on Tuesday night.

The least Vydra will hope for is for an extended run off the bench, rather than another 10 minutes.

He had a number of opportunities in that brief window, and looks more of a goal threat, at a time when Burnley are struggling for goals, scoring only nine in 16 league games to date.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wood, however, will hope playing against his ‘lucky’ club will kick-start his season – having scored six goals in five starts against tomorrow’s opponents West Ham.


We can’t seem to go 90 minutes without referring to VAR, and Tuesday night was no exception.

In the first half, Johann Berg Gudmundsson was caught just above the ankle by Luke Shaw, who did get a piece of the ball. However, referee Kevin Friend should have seen the offence –

Nick Pope, from 75 yards away did, audibly screaming: “It’s a red card ref!” or words to that end...

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, play continued as United broke quickly, and when Robbie Brady clumsily brought down Edinson Cavani, Friend gave a free kick and yellow card to the Irishman.

VAR decided that the Brady challenge was denying a cleat goalscoring opportunity, which was fair, as Ben Mee wasn’t getting back to cover.

However, only because it was deemed a red card offence, VAR went back to the attacking phase, and deemed Shaw’s challenge was part of that, allowing Friend to review that incident.

He gave Shaw a yellow card, which, for my part, seemed about right, and Burnley had a free kick.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, it was only Brady’s challenge being deemed a red card on review, that permitted Friend to get involved with the Shaw tackle – surely that could be ironed out and streamlined?

Burnley might have got lucky with a Harry Maguire header that was ruled out for an arm in the back of Erik Pieters, but by the same token, did Maguire get away with it when his outstretched elbow was struck by the ball in the area in the second half?


Ultimately it didn’t impact the result, but Burnley will only benefit from having a bench as strong as it was against Manchester United – as strong as the replacements have been for considerable time.

Even without Charlie Taylor, who could return to contention at West Ham, and keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Sean Dyche was able to call on Will Norris, who so impressed on his debut against MK Dons, Phil Bardsley, who could cover either full back role if required, a back up centre back in Kevin Long, Jack Cork, Dale Stephens and Josh Benson as midfield options, with Dwight McNeil to come on wide or off the front, and two forwards in Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As Dyche said: “You saw the bench looked way stronger, and I think we’re coming back to that kind of fully fit squad, and that’s going to be important going forward.”

Looking at the games schedule, and difficulty of those matches both in the league and cup, that squad will no doubt be required.

It was a shame that there was no room on the bench for Joel Mumbongo, who caught the eye as a substitute against MK Dons, but you couldn’t complain given what Dyche had available to him.

And while he would like to make life that bit more easy for himself, by adding a couple of players to boost numbers and in-house competition – or maybe even strengthen the first team straight away – Dyche knows if he can keep this group of players fit for the remainder of the campaign, they should have no enduring concerns as regards staying clear of trouble at the wrong end of the league table.