So after a fantastic European result just over a week ago, we traveled to Lancashire to face a Burnley side unbeaten in 7. Win this and close the gap, lose, and our slim hopes of any title chance are gone. Here are my thoughts.
Now before we get into it, credit where it is due, Burnley played really well in this game, and we just didn’t turn up. But whilst we lost this game, and I am obviously gutted, I got over this result quicker than I thought I would, and have definitely felt worse after previous defeats. But nevertheless, here is my review of what happened over the 90 minutes.
Usual suspects starting, however we gave the likes of Davinson Sanchez and Kieran Trippier a rest given the upcoming games against our London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal. Harry Kane returned to the starting XI, which was a good uplift for the squad, but I may have brought him off the bench for the last 30, and given him a full run out over the next couple of games. First half was a slower affair, ending 0-0 after a balanced opening 45. No real chances for either team, and it finished with neither side finding a way through. All to play for in the second half.
Second 45 started, and Kane had a delightful shot saved by Heaton, who has looked in great form since his return to the side. The ball was going straight to the top corner, but the Clarets keeper managed to tip it away. Less than ten minutes later, Burnley were given a corner, maybe that wasn’t a corner, but I won’t blame the officiating. Our opponents scored from the respective decision, Chris Wood heading into the net with a good header.
Again, less than ten minutes later, we equalised, through the returning Kane, following a great finish from Rose’s throw in. Which may have not been taken from the place the ball went out, but an eye for an eye as it’s said. Back and forth football, which was eventually met with Burnley scoring again after 83 minutes. With their other striker, the in-form Ashley Barnes, converting at the back post after a bit of a scrappy play from both teams. Nothing more to report really, and the game ended 2-1 to Burnley. Ending any arguable title hopes we had, even though that was never my aim or desire going into this season. I never fancied us for the title, and now we just have to focus on top 4, with a massive next two games in the league.
Some gripes to get out, I disagree with leaving Sanchez out, as he has usually played quite well against the stronger strikers we’ve faced, and the likes of Wood and Barnes were an absolute nightmare to deal with at the weekend. I worry for Son’s impact in the games now Kane is back, with the squad often playing around our number 10. But hopefully he keeps up his form, and our attacking force becomes better than ever. And whilst I am not one to moan at the officials, I did think Mike Dean had a poor game, and I don’t really like him as a referee. Obviously I will mention what happened after the game, as that is what will get the headlines. Poch and Perez had a big bust up with Mike Dean after the final whistle, and whilst I think our manager was obviously in the wrong, as he himself has even admitted, Dean may have enticed him back by saying something worse. It was all a bit of a bad situation, that we should all put behind us now.
But, I am not taking anything away from a Burnley side that played very well over the respective 90 minutes. Now it’s onto midweek, playing a Chelsea side that was taken all the 120 minutes against Man City in the Carabao Cup Final. A team that is definitely beatable, with physically and mentally tired players. Afterwards we play our North London Rivals Arsenal at Wembley next Saturday. Two massive games. Six massive points. We just have to see what happens.
As always thanks for reading.