Wolves 0, Burnley 0: Chris Boden's thoughts on a first away clean sheet and the outstanding Charlie Taylor

It is only a couple of weeks since Clarets boss Sean Dyche again championed Charlie Taylor’s cause, in terms of potential England recognition.

By Chris Boden
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 9:06 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 9:08 am
Charlie Taylor
Charlie Taylor

Ahead of the 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace, Dyche explained: “If he continues what he’s doing – it’s still a bit early yet, but I’d be surprised if he’s not at least getting thought of around the England set up.

“Maybe a bit more consistency going forward, and a bit more length to his form, but against Chelsea I thought he was absolutely outstanding, in his defensive capabilities.”

And Taylor’s performance at Molineux was the type of performance which could only further his chances, just less than a year out from the Qatar World Cup – especially coming on the back of the cruel fortune suffered by the quite brilliant Chelsea left back Ben Chilwell, who has an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

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The York-born left back, capped by the Three Lions at Under 19 level, has long been touted as a future senior international, and, at 28, is hitting his peak years.

But while Wolves’ flying forward Adama Traore claimed the Amazon Prime man of the match award from Eni Aluko, it was his direct opponent Taylor who surely deserved the accolade for an eye-catching performance down the full length of the flank.

Dyche has called on Taylor to improve his attacking output, and the former Leeds United man was Burnley’s biggest threat going forward – on a night where the Clarets stuttered as an attacking force – with his progressive running and understanding with Dwight McNeil leading to a string of crossing opportunities.

Taylor can improve in that sense, taking more care at times, but he remains an ever-willing outlet, bombing forward, allowing McNeil to weave his magic inside.

And in the day job, he simply did not put a foot wrong.

Up against the jet-heeled Traore, he forced the Spain speedster wider than he wanted from a big chance on the break, with the former Middlesbrough man rattling a shot off the underside of the bar.

And in another dangerous counter, he timed his tackle on Raul Jimenez to absolute perfection to stop the Mexican forward going clear.

He repeated the feat in the second half, and thoroughly merited the clean sheet, which was only Burnley’s second of the season in the Premier League.

As Dyche said: “I thought Chas was outstanding both ways, and I’ve told him so.

“He continues to perform and improve.

“His attacking play was good, that keeps improving, he’s adding that bit more quality in the final third, and I’ve said, in my opinion, he should be at least around the England group, not necessarily playing, or in every squad, but he should be around the thoughts.

“He was outstanding.”

Also outstanding was Nathan Collins, who came back into the side with James Tarkowski suspended, and he has now started all three games in which the Clarets have earned a shut out this campaign, including the Carabao Cup win at Newcastle United.

It speaks volumes about the summer signing that when he has played, captain Ben Mee and Tarkowski have not been missed, and, as seems certain, Tarkowski moves on a free at the end of his contract in the summer, he is a ready-made replacement for years to come – a remarkable talent at just 20 years old.

Collins again produced a composed, assured performance, as Burnley kept Wolves at arm’s length, with Mee, and Matt Lowton – despite an early booking for a stray arm on Hwang Hee-Chan, who reacted with a wild swing that should have earned a red card – also in typically resilient form.

Nick Pope was beaten once, by Traore’s effort which hit the woodwork, but otherwise he was not overly stretched by a Wolves side who have only scored 12 goals in 14 games.

Bruno Lage’s side dominated possession, but their passing was often ponderous andnever looked like opening up Burnley, with their best moments coming when the Clarets lost the ball high up the pitch, utilising the searing pace – but poor end product – of Traore.

The disappointment for Burnley was, after their recent run of goals, netting nine in four games unbeaten, one more than they managed in their previous 13, that they failed to function as an attacking unit, with a number of promising positions wasted by a poor final ball, particularly down their right, where Johann Berg Gudmundsson was a culprit.

However, it all meant a fifth game without defeat, and the Clarets have now lost only once in eight Premier League outings, and that at champions Manchester City, in a game where they had big chances of their own.

The problem is, six of those games have finished in draws, with the side only able to claim one win in the league in total.

While that sequence of results is a big step forward, following a testing start, Burnley have to start turning draws into wins to start edging their way out of danger.

Saturday is a huge clash in that respect – a first away win of the season at Newcastle would be a devastating blow to former Clarets boss Eddie Howe and his new charges, while a draw means the Magpies would be 15 games without a win from the start of the season – a sequence no side has endured without suffering relegation back to the second tier.

Burnley still search for that balance.

When they have scored goals of late, they have also looked porous at the back, scoring twice at Leicester and Southampton, only to claim a point, and three times at home in the draw with Crystal Palace.

And when they have looked secure defensively, as at Wolves, they have struggled to find a way through at the other end.

That, among other issues, needs addressing if Burnley are to retain their Premier League status.