TALKING POINTS: Burnley 1, Fulham 1
Burnley remained at arm’s length from relegation trouble on Wednesday night as they came from behind to draw with Fulham .
The Clarets retained their eight-point buffer from the drop zone as Ashley Barnes finished a superb piece of attacking play from Jay Rodrguez, three minutes after a corner flew off Ola Aina’s chest, with Robbie Brady unable to keep the ball out of the Burnley net .
Here are the talking points.
Up until the 3-2 win over Aston Villa, Burnley hadn’t collected a point from a losing position all season.
They have now gone behind in their last four home games, and come back to collect five crucial points.
We have talked time and again about the strong jaw the side possesses, and if you don’t finish the Clarets off, you will often regret it.
Sean Dyche said: “I think the most pleasing thing was the response generally from this group.
“We have so many injuries and we have got more tonight.
“They seem to just keep going regardless of what the challenge is.
“We have the quite obvious challenge of the Premier League, and the challenge with injuries has been unbelievable, I have never seen anything like it, we get people fit, they go down injured.”
‘No disappointments’ was a mantra early in Dyche’s reign that has carried through, and after falling behind to Brighton and Fulham in particular, in the manner both goals came about from corners, other sides might have felt sorry for themselves.
Without their skipper, top scorer and a number of other key players, and having shipped a fortuitous opener, Burnley came roaring back, equalising within three minutes with the one piece of outstanding quality on the night.
For a team that had won three of 23 Premier League games so far this season, and was seven points adrift of safety, Fulham didn’t half arrive with the hype machine in tow.
If roles were reversed and it was Newcastle or Burnley in Fulham’s position, would we hear the same sort of noise?
As impressive as their win at Everton was, regardless of how poor the Toffees were, there is a reason the Cottagers have struggled to win games all season, and I didn’t buy into the momentum behind them coming to Turf Moor.
Only Burnley and West Brom have scored fewer goals, but Fulham have not been clinical with their chances this season, and struggled to carve any out against the Clarets.
Scott Parker said himself earlier this month: “Our final detail in and around the final third has let us down a little bit and we’ve not always made the right decisions.
“I’m not only talking about finishing and executing here, I’m talking about getting yourself into positions that you can score goals and sometimes we’ve fallen a little bit short of that.”
Fulham don’t have that Premier League know how that only years at this level can buy you, and is paying Burnley back in spades.
Parker has made Fulham harder to beat, but Burnley are also a tough nut to crack, especially at Turf Moor, which is a graveyard for the Cottagers.
And so it turned out.
Burnley extended their unbeaten home run against Fulham to 31 games - their best sequence against any opponent, and Fulham’s club record of competitive away games without a win against the same club. They last won at Burnley in April 1951.
Another game, another couple of injuries.
And Sean Dyche is at a loss to explain Burnley’s bad luck, other than to look at the congested games programme.
Remarkably, every senior outfield player has missed at least one game through injury, and goalkeepers Nick Pope and Bailey Peacock-Farrell have also been ruled out at one stage or another.
A month ago, Dyche could see light at the end of the tunnel, but the light was another train!
He said after Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Robbie Brady added to the casualty list: “The games schedule is the only thing we can look at, way more games, strange kick-off times – it’s not a gripe, the world is in a strange place and we all have to do what we do – but it must have had an effect because I have been here eight and a half years, I have all the facts, stats and analysis and I have never seen anything like it.
“We have got training schedules for eight years, we know what works for us, and we have adapted that.
“We’re trying to get rest when we can, recovery, food, fluids, training times –we’ve looked at what we can, so the only thing we can put it down to is the amount of games and the timing of games.
“It must have an effect at some point, but I’m surprised it’s had this big an effect.
“But it will slow down, it has to, both injuries and the games schedule, and we have to hope it kind of pays us back if we can get people fit, they stay fit.”
Former Wales and Liverpool striker Dean Saunders was on duty at Turf Moor for TalkSport, and his praise for Burnley’s Ashley Barnes and Jay Rodriguez flowed throughout.
He felt Fulham, with Barnes, would have been far more effective, and described Rodriguez’s dummy and ball on a plate for Barnes’ equaliser as “world class.”
That might have been hyperbole, but it was the one real moment of quality in the game,
Rodriguez sensing Tosin Adarybio breathing down his neck, motioned to control Ashley Westwood’s pass, only to let it through his legs, allowing him to race away and, first time, produce a perfectly-weighted ball for Barnes.
A bobble saw the ball squirt away from under Barnes’ foot, but left Areola wrong-footed, as Barnes slotted home.
The pair combined to superb effect at Crystal Palace on Saturday, both stretching the Eagles’ centre backs, while both dropping deeper to influence play, as Rodriguez claimed a goal and an assist for Math Lowton’s goal.
Wednesday night was more about the ugly side of the game, getting their bodies in front of the centre backs, putting up with some punishment in the process, but making the ball stick.
The pair constantly had Fulham defenders running towards their own goal, and might both have ended up on the scoresheet.
From their own corners, in the last two games, Burnley have looked like scoring from every one, against two goalkeepers in Vicente Guaita and Alphonse Areola, who both looked uncomfortable against the delivery of Dwight McNeil and Ashley Westwood.
Jay Rodriguez netted with a header at Crystal Palace, but both keepers were often seen flapping at both in and out-swinging deliveries.
However, at the other end, Burnley recently conceded a soft headed goal against Brighton, despite Johann Berg Gudmundsson being on the left hand post, and Fulham profited in a similar manner, with Robbie Brady unable to clear Ola Aina’s deflected effort.
As Sean Dyche said: “Neither player tuned in properly.
“You have to be in an alert position. Robbie just thrashes at it rather than put a foot on it, but we could have done better at source.”
“I thought we looked a threat at set-pieces all night though.”