Talking points from Burnley 1, Brighton 2

It was a shame to end another strong Premier League season with defeat at home to Brighton.
Chris Wood celebrates his 14th goal of the seasonChris Wood celebrates his 14th goal of the season
Chris Wood celebrates his 14th goal of the season

But, while Nick Pope also lost out on the Golden Glove, when all is said and done, there was a real sense of pride among Burnley fans as they looked back on a campaign which saw them finish in the top 10 for the second time in three seasons.


Nick Pope had to keep a 16th clean sheet of the season for, at least, a share of the Golden Glove, but he could do nothing about the sweet strike from Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma, which gave him no chance 20 minutes in.

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That killed his hopes of a shut out, and while Clarets supporters urged Norwich to score at the Etihad against Manchester City and Ederson, despite brief hope when Onel Hernandez appeared to have beaten the Brazilian, only to have his effort chalked off by VAR for offside, there was little chance of City conceding, and so it proved.

Teemi Pukki missed a one on one as his drought in open play continued, but if Pope was going to be edged out for the Golden Glove by anyone, why not arguably the best keeper in the Premier League, if not beyond?

There is real clamour for Pope or Dean Henderson to step up to replace Jordan Pickford as England number one, with the Everton keeper enduring a testing campaign, capped by another error against Bournemouth on Sunday.

Pope has effectively played two seasons for the club in the Premier League, and has a seventh place and 10th place finish on his CV, and Sean Dyche was so confident in him, the club were able to sell club captain Tom Heaton after six years of sterling service.

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Discussing Pope's claim for the jersey on BBC Radio 5 Live last week, Jermain Jenas, somewhat harshly said: "Pope's problem is that he can't really play football, he hasn't got great feet."

And while Pope himself recently admitted: "I wouldn't mind Ederson's left foot!" - who wouldn't? - it is a bizarre sitiuation we find ourselves in, that Pickford is seemingly preferred for his distribution, rather than the job description - to keep goal.

When did Pickford's distribution win Everton or England a game? And how many times has he cost Everton this season? While he has largely done well for England, his form doesn't merit his current position as the country's first pick.

It's the same argument at centre half, where John Stones is allowed to make costly mistakes - crucially losing Mario Mandzukic in extra time in the World Cup semi-final, or Cruyff turning on the edge of the box to cost England the Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands - but is excused because he can play out from the back.

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Pope has done enough to be top man, and, for my money, there aren't many, if any, English centre backs in better form than James Tarkowski either.

Both should be nailed on for the Nations League double-header in September.


The introduction of VAR has been a huge disappointment.

Many fans were happy to accept the slowing down of the game to assess decisions, if we were able to more consistently achieve the correct decisions.

But all we have seen is a reluctance to overturn onfield decisions from refereeing colleagues, one way or another.

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There has been a high bar of proving officials have made a clear and obvious error, and we have seen some quite awful decisions allowed to stand, particularly since the restart.

Burnley were stung three times on Sunday.

First, Jay Rodriguez robbed Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens, and was then barged to the ground in the box.

Surely a penalty? Jon Moss wasn't moved, and Stockley Park similar.

But why, when we see penalties given for less contact? The decision against former Claret Michael Keane on Brighton's Aaron Connolly in October was bad enough, but then earlier this month we see Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes win a penalty for attempting a roulette turn against Aston Villa, stand on Ezri Konsa - whose 'challenge' stopped well short of the Portugal midfielder.

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It's baffling. As Sean Dyche often points out, players legs buckle under minimal contact and there are arguments made for penalties to be awarded, yet we see Rodriguez, as honest as they come, knocked over in the area and receiving nothing.

Manchester United won their 14th penalty of the season on Sunday, setting a Premier League record in a season, while you see Burnley have won five in three seasons... we had Brighton's winner, where the ball appeared to have gone out of play, but VAR couldn't conclusively prove it. As with Sheffield United's 'goal' at Aston Villa, it's surely time for officials to use all technology at their disposal, but trust their own eyes and instincts as well. Have a look at the pictures, and if they're not conclusive, make your own decision, without leaning on VAR.

And don't get me going on Rodriguez's 'equaliser'. Yes Johann Berg Gudmundsson is offside, but Mat Ryan isn't getting anywhere near the header.

At times VAR has felt like a Goal Denial System, looking for ways to take away the thing everyone wants to see in the game.


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While Burnley finished the season with a club Premier League-record equalling 54 points, add on the 28 they earned in the second half of last term, and their form has been remarkably solid since 2018 turned into 2019.

In fact, it is only the first half of the 2018/19 campaign, amid their Europa League exertions, recruitment struggles and injuries to key personnel, that the Clarets have struggled in the last three seasons as a whole.

Sean Dyche always talks of pressing the restart button at the start of each season, and the previous season can count for nothing, as the likes of Watford and Stoke have found over the last couple of years, but the manager and Burnley have found a way of working which is regularly collecting points at this level, regardless of who has been in the side.

Even without a long list of injuries and the contract situation, the culture, framework and organisation means the next man in line has always done the job.

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You can go back to the summer of 2013, and Dyche's insistence that, while the sale of Charlie Austin on the eve of the campaign was far from ideal, it was an opportunity for Danny Ings and Sam Vokes. And didn't they take it!

Dyche will need to add bodies to his squad in the brief close season, but the evidence suggests Burnley will continue to be a force to be reckoned with at this level, providing the manager, and all that he has built, remains in place, amid continued speculation over his future.


Chris Wood ended the season as Burnley's top scorer with 14 Premier League goals, the most a Burnley player has scored in the top-flight since Leighton James netted 16 in 1974/75.

He edged out Jay Rodriguez, who finished with 11 in all competitions, to mean he has been top dog at Turf Moor for three seasons now, netting 11 in his debut campaign, and 13 last term to tie with Ashley Barnes.

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All told, he has 35 Premier League goals in 104 appearances - more than one every three.

That means he has more than a huge number of fellow forwards, some of which may surprise you - Charlie Austin, Mikael Forssell, Peter Ndlovu, Iain Dowie, Cameron Jerome, Nicklas Bendtner, Djibril Cisse, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Yossi Benayoun, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Sylvain Wiltord, Luis Boa Morte, Jurgen Klinsmann, Savo Milosevic, Egil Ostenstad, Hugo Rodallega, Uwe Rosler...the list goes on.

Wood demands respect, but while he is Sean Dyche's number one marksman, some fans still seem to need some convincing.

Yes, he is offside too often - and won the golden flag award this season! - but he is asked to play on the shoulder, and is improving the timing of those runs, losing Lewis Dunk completely from Erik Pieters' pass to score against Brighton.

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But he has a bit of everything and scores all different types of goals. I'm sure if you asked Rodriguez, Barnes or Matej Vydra what he's like to play with, they would all be glowing in their praise.

The £15m laid out to Leeds in the summer of 2017 is undoubtedly a bargain, particularly when you consider that he effectively came in to replace the outgoing Andre Gray, sold to Watford for £18m.

Wood quietly goes about his business, never seeming to attract the plaudits, or even merit a mention when clubs higher up the pecking order than Burnley are looking for strikers. Long may that continue! He is a huge asset for Burnley, and still only 28.