Talking points from Burnley’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United
Here are some of the talking points from the game, from a Burnley perspective.
“No disappointments” is something you used to hear a lot from Sean Dyche and his players, as they shrugged off any setbacks and looked to affect what lied ahead, within games and looking to the next one.
And there should be none after Sunday’s game.
Any time you let a lead slip late on, especially after squandering a key chance to kill the game at 2-0, there is bound to be some sense of frustration.
Even more so when the win would have seen Burnley climb to eighth, above the Blades, into what could be a Europa League slot.
But there should only be a sense of pride at at Turf Moor.
To claim seven points from home games with Watford and Sheffield United, and a trip to Crystal Palace, is a terrific return.
And the draw extended their run to one Premier League defeat in 11 games.
Bearing in mind the lack of options available to Sean Dyche at present, that is a remarkable sequence of results.
This Sheffield United are a fine side - as shown at Bramall Lane in November - and while they had chances at Turf Moor, Burnley had the better openings, and looked to have nullified their threat in the second half.
A point is a decent return against a side who finished comfortable winners against Spurs on Thursday.
‘Mentality monsters’ is what Jurgen Klopp called his Liverpool side last season in their title chase with Manchester City.
And it could just as easily be used to describe Sean Dyche’s Burnley.
Dyche said on Thursday that “the attitude of the players has been absolutely first class, as it often is - as good as I've ever seen it.
"Yet again, when it comes on top of us and we're stretched for whatever reason, they turn up en masse."
And his players turned up again against the Blades.
Without Ashley Barnes, after the departure of Jeff Hendrick, Aaron Lennon and Joe Hart, and with a barely fit Chris Wood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Robbie Brady on the bench, Dyche lost skipper Ben Mee and Jack Cork ahead of the game.
Both are among the first names on the team sheet when fit, but the side shrugged those absences off to turn in another highly-competitive display.
They may have looked a little tired late on, with Dyche’s hands a tad tied in terms of game-changing substitutions, but they again put in an admirable shift.
Ben Mee’s run of 70-successive Premier League starts came fo an end due to a thigh injury.
And while there were many glances towards a certain £15m centre back currently training away from the club, who might have finally got a chance, Kevin Long stepped in again to good effect.
He is the third longest-serving Premier League player, behind Mark Noble and Leighton Baines, having joined the Clarets in January 2010, and while he has barely had a look in this season, he never mumps and moans.
The Republic of Ireland international gave a typically solid display, showing his range of distribution with one raking 60-yard ball for Charlie Taylor in the first half.
A manager’s dream, Long is priceless for his loyalty and ability to perform when called upon.
How many managers can call on a player like that, who gets his head down and works hard for his chance, which fleetingly comes and goes, but he slots in seamlessly when required?
And how much would it cost to replace a team player like that?
Before the game, only 9% of the goals Burnley have conceded in the Premier League this season had come from set-piece situations (four of 45, not including penalties) - the lowest ratio in the top flight.
So it is a small gripe that, having twice switched off from short corners in the first game back at Manchester City, Burnley’s lead against Sheffield United was cancelled out by another goal from a similar route.
Of the six goals conceded now, in four games of the restart, three have come from short corners.
As Dyche said, the details were not quite right at the Etihad, and they will look to tighten up in that area after John Egan took advantage of the space given to him to finish superbly.
Centre backs on target
With the side missing Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, with 17 goals between them, and Jay Rodriguez at Palace, who has nine, the centre backs have chipped in with key goals.
Ben Mee picked a fine time to head in his first goal in three and a half years at Selhurst Park to claim the three points.
And James Tarkowski, with the armband in the absence of Mee, produced a poacher’s finish to put Burnley ahead against the Blades - his first goal since November.
With the quality of set piece delivery from Ashley Westwood and Dwight McNeil, Mee and Tarkowski are a constant threat, but it is a big help to see them chip in with goals.
As Tarkowski said: “With Westy and Dwight you can always rely on where it's going to go. Myself and Ben [Mee] should probably have scored a few more this year, we've had a lot of chances, so it's nice to get on the scoresheet and hopefully there'll be more to come before the season's over."
Josh Brownhill has earned praise for his performances narrow on the right of midfield after the departure of Jeff Hendrick. And injury to Jack Cork meant a first start in the centre for the January signing.
The former Bristol City man, tasked with the outnumbered role Cork and Ashley Westwood so relish, up against an opposition three, looked well at home, showing aggression in the challenge and composure on the ball.
He fits Burnley’s ethos and could prove another in a long line of shrewd signings from the Championship.
His representative Phil Ercolano believes he is tailor-made for the club, and you can already see why.