Mr Consistency - why Chris Wood is so key to Burnley's hopes of avoiding the drop

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·5-min read
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Chris Wood in action for Burnley - GETTY IMAGES
Chris Wood in action for Burnley - GETTY IMAGES

Think of the best strikers in the Premier League over the last few years. Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy usually spring to mind.

Burnley’s Chris Wood is not one of those, but you would be foolish to underestimate the New Zealander’s contribution in that time.

The Clarets have never paid more for a player than the £15 million they spent on Wood to bring him in from Leeds in August 2017, and he has repaid that fee handsomely.

Look at his goal records from his previous seasons - 10, 10, 12 and 14. Not blockbuster numbers, but Wood is one of only six players to have managed at least 10 goals in the last four seasons.

It is that kind of consistency which Burnley manager Sean Dyche values so highly from his players in general, so Wood fits into that pattern seamlessly.

Saturday’s goal was his third of this season, as he cushioned a header into the bottom corner to put the Clarets 2-1 up, and player and manager will be hoping for double figures again this term to pull the team away from trouble.

Wood turns 30 next month and he has the right blend to help his side. A very effective Premier League performer, he knows his game and he knows the job he has to do.

At 6ft 3in, he is strong in the air and standing up close to him he would not look out of place in the All Blacks forward pack, but he is a good finisher on the deck as well, as he showed with his recent goal at home to Brentford.

In previous seasons, Dyche has used him in a pair, most notably with Ashley Barnes, but in recent games the New Zealander has been employed as a lone striker, with Maxwel Cornet given licence to float around in the space behind him.

Wood rarely generates the big headlines, but he is only three goals away from becoming New Zealand’s all-time leading scorer, too.

That could come in 2022, in a year in which dragging Burnley to safety here and taking the All Whites to the World Cup will be his overriding aims.

Burnley 3 Crystal Palace 3: match report

By Adam Lanigan

Burnley and Crystal Palace served up a thriller in the Turf Moor rain as the two teams shared six goals.

It was an unexpected treat as the sides attacked from first minute to last with plenty of chances on top of the goals as they threw everything at each other like boxers slugging it out.

It was Palace, who picked up where they had left off before the international break as they found the net inside eight minutes, thanks to Christian Benteke.

A goalscorer for Belgium on international duty, Benteke scored via the inside off the post with the help of a deflection off James Tarkowski, following Joachim Andersen’s lay-off after Maxwel Cornet’s header had failed to clear the danger.

It really should have been two a minute later, as Palace broke again, but when Benteke played the ball into the path of Conor Gallagher, England’s newest international, he fired it straight at Nick Pope with the whole of the goal at his mercy.

He would live to regret that miss as Burnley did not take long to draw level as Ben Mee got a free run at Ashley Westwood’s corner and planted a firm header in off the far post.

If anything, the excitement went up a notch as Johann Berg Gudmundsson was denied by Vicente Guaita at one end while Benteke slid one into the side netting at the other as Palace counter-attacked.

Tempers then frayed as Wilfried Zaha and Tarkowski both saw yellow after clashing.

But it was Burnley who grabbed the next goal with another set-piece. This time, Dwight McNeil’s floated free-kick was headed across by Tarkowksi for Chris Wood to guide his header from six yards perfectly into the bottom corner.

Benteke had already passed up one great chance to equalise from a free header, but he made no mistake second time, firing home after super work from Gallagher to set him up.

And the first half fun had still not ended as Palace went ahead for the second time. Andersen’s initial header was saved, but centre-half partner Marc Guehi smashed home the rebound for his first Premier League goal.

But four minutes into the second half, the hosts were level again with the best goal of the afternoon.

Gudmundsson’s cross was headed on by Tarkowski and it dropped at the far post for Cornet, who produced superb technique to hit a dipping volley past Guaita for his fifth goal in just seven Premier League appearances since his £13 million arrival from Lyon.

There was then time for controversy as the home side were convinced Andersen had brought down Wood outside the area when last man after misjudging a long ball, but referee Simon Hooper did not even give a foul.

Zaha rattled the crossbar with a brilliant volley of his own as Palace went in search of a winner while Burnley substitute Matej Vydra had the chance to secure the three points it in the final minute of injury time, only for Guaita to make an incredible save.

That would have taken them out of the bottom three, but it is still only one loss in six. However, for Palace, it is now seven games without defeat in Vieira’s new-look entertaining team.

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