Burnley had the chance to all but secure survival in front of the Sky cameras on Sunday but they blew it and have given themselves a nervy finish.
Despite results going against us on Saturday with both Hull and Swansea winning, cutting our gap to 5 points, Burnley could have given the chasing pack a near-insurmountable task. Instead they contrived to deliver an abject performance in front of a TV audience, not to mention the capacity crowd.
We started well in the game but didn’t create many clear chances. After giving the ball away cheaply in midfield, Man United strolled forward on the counter and finished with aplomb. Then just before the break the lead was doubled with a scruffy Wayne Rooney finish. That was basically it. Burnley offered nothing after the first goal went in of note and couldn’t complain with the defeat.
Just to make the day and weekend even worse, Crystal Palace went and beat Liverpool to move them above Burnley. It’s Palace we visit next on Saturday which will be a huge ask given their recent victories at Chelsea and Liverpool.
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It was so frustrating knowing we had the fate of the season in our hands and couldn’t take advantage. We didn’t go into the game with a fearless attitude as I had hoped, instead we looked in awe of the expensively assembled United squad.
Burnley persist on playing with inverted wingers, one of which is not even a winger in George Boyd. I am baffled as to why we would fork out £13m on a left wing back/winger and ask him to play on the right side of midfield and drift inside. Brady doesn’t look comfortable there and he doesn’t seem to be enjoying his football. His link up work with fellow Irish internationals Ward and Hendrick in the second half might be a glimpse of what is to come.
In central midfield we didn’t control possession. The stats show we had 47% but considering we were behind for a large part of the game this is not a true depiction. The amount of stray passes was also frustrating, and that can be said of the whole team. I believe Barton should be dropped for either Defour or Westwood as his performances lately have been below par.
The game itself had few positives but the return of Gudmundsson was one of them. He has bee dogged by injuries this season and it was great to see him take the field again. Young striker Dan Agyei made another Burnley appearance and got just over 15 minutes on the field.
We move on to the next game, and perhaps without Ben Mee. The defender suffered a bruised shin and came off at half time. Judging from Dyche’s comments it is an injury he has struggled with for a while and he might still be in contention after a weeks rest.
Palace away next and we need to be more pro-active and adventurous. If that means playing wingers on their correct sides and whipping balls into Sam Vokes then so be it. Whatever we are doing now is not working and something has to change to get us that final priceless win.