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Burnley

Home or Away: What next for Danny Ings?

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In late September, many people had already written off newly-promoted Burnley as dead certs for relegation. Without a win to their name, and more importantly just one goal in their opening five matches, they looked dead and buried.

However, their goal-shy start to the season was mostly due to the absence of super striker Danny Ings. The 2013/14 Championship player of the season’s return to the side reinvigorated Burnley, transforming them from goal-shy relegation favourites to a dangerous attacking side that holds a realistic hope of survival. His nine goals and four assists account for 54.2% of Burnley’s goals in the league, and five goals in his last six games show Ings is growing more and more comfortable in the Premier League environment. He is even being mooted for an England call-up for the end of March.

Ings’ prosperous spell with Burnley is to come to an end, however, as his contract expires this summer with no chance of the forward signing another one with the Clarets. The 22-year-old has offers from both home and abroad, but what would be the right move for this promising English centre forward?

Staying in England- Liverpool

Whilst there has been reported interest in Ings from both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, Liverpool looks the most likely destination for him should he choose to remain in England. Whilst the Reds failed to tie up a deal for Ings in January, they look certain to swoop in again in an attempt to avoid the striking problems they encountered early in this season.

Anfield is the preferred destination for Ings of Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who says that the Southampton born forward should be looking to play at a “top-end” Premier League club. Furthermore, Burnley are keen for Ings to remain in England as they would be entitled to around £5 million in compensation due to Ings’ age, whereas a move abroad would only entitle the Clarets to just £200,000 under FIFA rules. It is clear to see why a financially limited club such as Burnley are keen for Ings to remain in England.

A move to another English club would suit Burnley best, but would a move to Liverpool be the correct move for Ings? Should Daniel Sturridge remain fit, it will be almost impossible for Ings to displace his fellow countryman in the starting line-up. Furthermore, Liverpool have already invested £10 million in young Belgian striker Divock Origi, who will arrive on Merseyside this summer after a loan spell at Lille. Game time could prove tough to come by.

If Ings were to make the move to Anfield, the level of competition would most probably restrict his game time, and possibly stifle his development. However, Ings is certainly better suited to Liverpool’s style of play than the slow and lazy Mario Balotelli or the ageing Ricky Lambert. If Liverpool were to suffer another long-term injury to Sturridge, Ings would be an ideal replacement, stretching defences with his pace, allowing space for their star-studded midfield, and tucking away chances with his lethal finishing. As a back-up to Sturridge, he could prove to be a very good fit for the Reds.

Whilst a move to Anfield may be the choice of Sean Dyche and Burnley, Ings would have to consider how much game time he would get should Daniel Sturridge remain fit. Ings certainly has the talent and style of play to fit in at Liverpool, but a lack of playing time may affect his development. He would be a great back up for the Reds, but Ings needs to question whether being initially restricted to cup games and substitute appearances is worth it for a chance to prove himself at a big English club.

Moving abroad- Real Sociedad

In recent years the debate about whether British players should make the move abroad has resurfaced, especially with Wales’ Gareth Bale’s world record transfer to Real Madrid, and Ings could realistically be the next Brit to try and make his name on the continent.

Having reportedly already flown to the Basque country to discuss a move with David Moyes, Real Sociedad looks a realistic option for Ings to further his young career. The 22-year-old would reportedly quadruple his wages at the San Sebastian club, and also develop his game in ways other young English stars such as Harry Kane and Saido Berahino wouldn’t by playing in the slower, more technical Spanish league.

Furthermore, moving to a club like Real Sociedad would mean less competition for places than at a top English club, which should allow him to develop from more playing time. However, he would struggle to replace star man Carlos Vela up-front so would once again need to be wary of extended periods on the bench should he struggle to fit in, but he is, on balance, more likely to get more game time in Spain.

Whilst a move to Spain may be a brave move, it is incredibly risky, with a large probability of failure. Of the nineteen Englishmen who have moved to La Liga, only seven of those have lasted more than one season, showing just how difficult it is for an Englishman to adapt to Spain both on and off the pitch and build a lasting career. History suggests that the cultural differences between England and Spain will result in a swift return to England for Ings.

Should Ings choose to leave the Premier League, a move to the Anoeta would probably be the best place to go. The British connection provided by David Moyes should ease the transition to the playing style of La Liga, but the move to Spain itself carries many risks, as the chances of settling into a new culture could significantly affect his form. As a young man, his career would be far from over should he fail in Spain, but he must be wary that his career may stall should the move not work out. On balance, though, he has the necessary attributes to succeed in Spain if he settles.

Verdict

Ings has certainly proved that he has the necessary qualities to fit in at a top end club, but he needs more time to develop before he can establish himself as a first-choice striker for a top team or an international player. For these reasons, Ings should take the plunge and head to the Basque country in order to further his development. Whilst the move carries an element of danger, at 22, Ings should be able to recover and still make as career in the Premier League and for England should the move fail. However, if the move were to succeed, which it realistically could under Moyes, Ings will improve vastly as a player, adding a continental experience and flair from his game that has been lacking from English strikers for some time. A successful spell in Spain will develop Ings into a great forward who could lead the line for a club, in either the Premier League or Europe, as well as the England national team in the coming years. It would be a risk, but could give him the edge on his contemporaries, making a move to Spain the best option for Ings at this moment in his career.

John is a history graduate from the University of Southampton, and will soon be completing a Master's degree in Journalism at Cardiff University

Burnley

Burnley 0-1 Manchester United: Three talking points from Turf Moor

Rob Meech

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Photo: Reuters

Anthony Martial scored the only goal of the game as Manchester United recorded their third consecutive victory by seeing off Burnley at Turf Moor. In a game devoid of end-to-end entertainment, the Frenchman struck in the 54th minute when his right-footed shot found the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Burnley tried in vain to force a leveller but could not find a way past David de Gea, as their winless run extended to seven Premier League matches. United, meanwhile, have maintained their grip on second spot but remain 12 points drift of runaway leaders Manchester City. Here are three talking points…

United pass another away-day test

Despite rumours of unrest at Old Trafford, United are now unbeaten in eight Premier League matches. While their hopes of reeling in Manchester City may be remote, Jose Mourinho’s men are red-hot favourites to finish as runners-up. That would be a huge improvement on last season – their first under Mourinho – where United finished sixth. It was only their success in the Europa League that guaranteed them a place in the Champions League.

The Red Devils are definitely progressing and the expected arrival of Alexis Sanchez would give them another dimension. In particular, their away form will please Mourinho. This was United’s fifth victory in their past six Premier League games on their travels, a run that is helping to keep the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool at bay.

Burnley is a notoriously tricky place to visit, but United withstood the physical threat of the hosts and just about had enough to claim all three points.

Burnley are feeling the effects

When looking at the table, Burnley’s position appears to be very comfortable. In eighth place and with 34 points to their name, the Clarets are all but guaranteed to be playing Premier League football again next season. That would have been manager Sean Dyche’s priority and he can feel satisfied with the job he has done.

Nonetheless, this is a difficult period for Burnley, who have not tasted victory since they beat Stoke City on December 12. Scoring goals has been their biggest problem, having drawn a blank in four of their seven-game winless  run. The Clarets are not renowned as being free-scoring – they have found the net only 19 times this season – and rely on a solid defensive foundation.

Perhaps the exertions of their promising start have taken their toll on a settled side. The challenge for Dyche, who had been linked with the Everton job during the height of Burnley’s success, is to ensure his players do not fall into the trap of thinking they have nothing to play for.

Martial is making rapid progress

The Frenchman began the campaign out of favour at United, but he has regained his place in the side thanks to a series of consistent performances. His output has been productive, too. His goal against Burnley was his third in a row, taking him to 11 for the season. Allied to his seven assists, Martial is beginning to fulfil his immense potential.

He cut a frustrated figure at being kept out of the starting XI by Marcus Rashford – there was even speculation he might be on his way out of Old Trafford. But Martial said all the right things publicly and is no longer in the ‘supersub’ category. Competition for places will only intensify if and when Sanchez’s switch from Arsenal is completed.

But the former Monaco starlet should not fear the Chilean’s arrival, but relish it. He has proved he can be a trustworthy player for United. Like Luke Shaw, he is another to have benefited from some stern words from Mourinho, who will soon have an embarrassment of attacking riches to call upon.

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Burnley

Manchester United 2-2 Burnley: Three talking points from Old Trafford

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Photo: Reuters

Jesse Lingard came off the bench to strike deep into injury-time as Manchester United came from two goals down to salvage a dramatic point against Burnley at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Going into the match with the chance to close the gap to Manchester City at the top of the table to ten points, the hosts got off to the worst possible start when Ashley Barnes poked home with just three minutes on the clock after a melee in the box.

And it went from bad to worse not long after when Steven Defour struck a superb free-kick out of the reach of David de Gea to leave the visitors dreaming of a first victory at Old Trafford since 1962.

Jose Mourinho rang the changes at half-time and it was Jesse Lingard who, just moments after missing a sitter from a yard out, hauled his side back into the match with a delicate back-heel finish.

United piled on the pressure as they went in search of an equaliser but they were met with typically determined defending by Burnley, until the ball dropped to Lingard in the second minute of time added on to fire home a shot into the corner and break Burnley hearts in the most dramatic of ways.

The result will do little to increase United’s title diminishing title hopes though, who now sit 12 points behind their rivals and have a game in hand against Newcastle United, whilst Burnley move to within a point of the top six.

United falter again as title drifts further away

For the second time in just a matter of days there was injury-time drama for Manchester United after substitute Jesse Lingard tucked home in the 92nd minute to salvage a late point for the hosts.

Whilst Boxing Day’s draw will leave a slightly better taste in the mouth than their one against Leicester City at the weekend as this time it was them who came from behind to claim a point right at the death, it does little to detract from the fact that the Premier League title is now all-but lost.

The gap between United and rivals Manchester City was reduced to 12 points on Tuesday but, considering City play a lowly Newcastle United later today, it’s likely to be up to a huge 15 points by Thursday morning.

Whilst Burnley were well-regimented and showed the defensive prowess that has become accustomed with Sean Dyche’s side this season, there was an all-too similar feeling of déjà vu from last season as the hosts failed to truly test Nick Pope despite amounting over 75% possession.

Jose Mourinho’s experiment with both Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic starting failed to produce any meaningful impact and, until Lingard’s intervention, they were staring an unlikely defeat in the face.

The Portuguese boss claimed post-match that there is ‘not enough’ funds being given to him to improve his squad – despite spending nearly £300million since taking over as manager – in comparison to Manchester City, but on the day there’s no debating they have the resources to beat a side like Burnley at home.

Surprise package Burnley continue to ruffle feathers

In a week that saw people tuck into turkey across the country for Christmas Day, Burnley continue to ruffle some feathers of their own after coming agonisingly close to claiming a first win against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 55 years.

After being convincingly beaten by Tottenham at home last time out, it was the perfect response from the Clarets in a match that proved they have the temperament to battle with the best teams in the league.

It was arguably a classic snatch and grab performance from the visitors, taking their two chances from set-pieces with their only two shots on target of the game, but their fast start enabled them to soak up pressure inside their own half and get ten men behind the ball.

Whilst a point will come with mixed emotions due to the manner in which they were pegged back during injury-time, it maintained their mightily impressive run on the road against the top six sides.

This season Dyche’s side have already beaten Chelsea and drawn with Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United, picking up more points (six) than any other team in the Premier League so far.

Not many would have expected Burnley to be able to continue their fine start but, with over half of the campaign done and dusted, there’s a real possibility that they could achieve something miraculous this season, and the likes of Arsenal will now be nervously looking over their shoulders.

Lingard to the rescue as substitute continues purple patch

Whilst Manchester United may be in the midst of what some would call a ‘slump’ having won just two of their past five Premier League matches, one positive to come from their run is Jesse Lingard.

The 25-year-old has quietly gone about his business this season under the radar, slowly becoming one of the first names on Jose Mourinho’s team sheet and ousting the likes of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford.

And after being a squad player for the best part of the last few seasons at Old Trafford, every now and then popping up with a vital goal – such as the FA Cup final winner in 2016 – he has suddenly taken his game to the next level as a result of playing in a more free, central role behind the strikers.

Deployed behind Romelu Lukaku his pace can turn defence into attack in an instance for United as shown against Watford and Arsenal, and it was his impact from the bench that earnt his side a point.

Some may question why he didn’t start considering his prolific recent form but he made up for lost time once introduced at half-time, producing a sublime back-heel flick into the far corner to reduce the home side’s arrears before being in the right place in the 92nd minute to fire a half-volley home.

It could have been an even better afternoon for the England international too had he not been denied from a yard out by Nick Pope but, on the day, his manager will be thankful for his exploits.

For a man that has rarely been spoken about as a future first-team player he’s certainly giving people something to think about, and his brace – the first to be made by a United substitute since 2015 – now means that he’s been involved in more goals this season (six goals, four assists) than the likes of Eden Hazard, Dele Alli and Alexis Sanchez, and that’s not bad company to keep.

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Bournemouth

Three talking points as impressive Burnley downed Bournemouth

Rob Meech

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Burnley climbed to sixth in the Premier League thanks to a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory away to Bournemouth. Goals from Chris Wood and Robbie Brady either side of half-time put the Clarets on course for all three points. And although Joshua King halved the arrears 10 minutes from time, the Cherries could not force an equaliser as they slipped to their first defeat since October.

With their seventh win of the campaign, the Lancashire outfit have moved above Tottenham Hotspur in the table, while Bournemouth dropped to 15th after an off-colour performance. Here are three talking points to emerge from a bitterly cold evening at the Vitality Stadium.

Sean Dyche triumphs in battle of the English managers

This game was billed as a contest between two of the brightest young managers in England – and there was a clear victor. Burnley dominated the 90 minutes and perfectly executed Sean Dyche’s game-plan. They never let Bournemouth get a foothold on proceedings and capitalised on the break.

The Clarets are often described as a long-ball side and dull, but the football they produced was far superior to that of Bournemouth, who are renowned as an attractive team to watch. Meanwhile, Dyche’s opposite number Eddie Howe – celebrating his 40th birthday – was left scratching his head after his side’s insipid display.

The Cherries headed into this clash three games unbeaten, but the worrying signs that appeared during the goalless draw with Swansea at the weekend were magnified here. There was precious little creativity and too much sideways passing. Tellingly, the midfield two of Harry Arter and Andrew Surman were completely outnumbered and outplayed.

Burnley’s remarkable transformation on their travels

Much was written about Burnley’s poor away form last season, which was in stark contrast to their results at Turf Moor. But from the moment they shocked Premier League champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season, the Clarets have looked perfectly at ease on their travels.

This victory over Bournemouth followed wins against Everton and Southampton, as well as draws with Liverpool and Spurs. Burnley’s only away defeat came at table-topping Manchester City. These 14 points are double what they earned in the entirety of last season. It is a remarkable turnaround and testament to the work Dyche has done with his well-drilled squad.

Each player knows his own role inside out. In truth, they never looked in any trouble against Bournemouth once Wood had opened the scoring. On this evidence, it is no surprise to see Burnley riding high in the table – they are there on merit and will continue to succeed if taken lightly.

Goals are in short supply for timid Bournemouth

In their first two seasons in the Premier League, Bournemouth entertained audiences with goals aplenty at both ends of the pitch. The dramatic 4-3 victory over Liverpool and 3-3 draw against Everton spring to mind. This season though, excitement has been replaced with pragmatism.

The Cherries have become harder to beat, but the trade off has been that, despite the arrival of a striker of Jermain Defoe’s pedigree, they have found goals tougher to come by. Bournemouth have scored 12 times in 14 matches so far, with a third of those coming in the 4-0 thumping of Huddersfield Town earlier this month.

The challenge facing Howe is to get the best of both worlds. In a division as competitive and unforgiving as the Premier League, that is no easy task. But the consensus is, currently, the Cherries have compromised too much on the brand of football which has made them so watchable.

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