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Burnley

Three talking points as Everton fell to defeat at home to Burnley

Jake Jackman

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Everton

Everton fell to a disappointing home defeat to Burnley on Sunday as their underwhelming start to the season continues. The visitors took the lead thanks to a great team goal that culminated in a composed finish from Republic of Ireland international Jeff Hendrick. Although the defending was questionable, it was an excellent goal for the Clarets and underlined that they do have a lot of technical ability in their team to complement the aggression. Here are three things learnt from the match at Goodison Park:

If you buy mid-table players, you become a mid-table team

During the summer, Everton received a lot of praise for their recruitment with some pundits tipping them for a Champions League push. Their big-name signings included Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson all of whom finished in the bottom half of the table last season. Although they shone in their respective teams, it is a huge ask for all three to step-up at the same time to start for an Everton side with ambition.

The biggest problem with the club’s summer transfer window was their failure to replace Romelu Lukaku. It was impossible for the Toffees to keep hold of the Belgian, but they had lots of time to source suitable replacements. The fact that Oumar Niasse was their striker against Burnley is a problem, as it is well known that the 27-year-old hasn’t been a part of Ronald Koeman’s plans since the Dutchman took charge. With every passing game, their recruitment is looking worse and worse.

Burnley have solved their away blues

Last season, the Clarets struggled on the road and didn’t post their first away win until the final days of April. They have already accumulated eight points from their first four away matches of the season against Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton. Even the most optimistic of Burnley supporters would have expected four losses.

Sean Dyche is proving himself to be one of the best pound-for-pound managers in the Premier League and he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. Burnley, like Dyche, are seen as unfashionable by the national media, but that won’t concern them. It was a typically determined performance from the players and the three points has seen them climb to 6th in the table. They won’t be getting carried away, but they have started well and look at home in the top flight.

Koeman doesn’t know his best team

The constant rotation hasn’t helped Everton as they have yet to find their rhythm on the pitch. The Europa League has been a hindrance in that regard as they made three changes from the team that beat Bournemouth last weekend. It was an odd decision to start Nikola Vlasic ahead of Davy Klaassen, as the Dutchman was signed for big money and dropping him for an untested teenager won’t help his confidence.

A big problem with Everton’s recruitment was that they signed a lot of players that operate in similar positions. It was always going to be a near impossible task to fit Davy Klaassen, Wayne Rooney, Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the same eleven. Only one of them started on Sunday and that was Sigurdsson. Even though he was the only one in the line-up, he was still used in a wide position and he isn’t going to be effective in that role. Koeman needs to settle on a first eleven or the results will continue to underwhelm.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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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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Arsenal

Three talking points as Arsenal secured a late victory against Burnley

Jake Jackman

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Arsenal

Arsenal beat Burnley on Sunday thanks to a late goal from Alexis Sanchez. The winner came from the penalty spot. Although the performance won’t be remembered as one of the Gunners’ best of the season, they persevered and found a way to take the three points. In the past, this has been something that the club have struggled to do and it was pleasing to see them win in an ugly fashion against the Clarets. The victory saw them move above local rivals Tottenham into a Champions League position. Here are three talking points from the game:

Shkodran Mustafi delivered a brilliant defensive performance

The German international was linked with a move away from the club during the summer, but he ended up staying at the Emirates Stadium and his improvement in recent weeks offers encouragement for the future. Against Burnley, he was superb and was a leading contender for man-of-the-match. He played a vital role in Arsenal keeping a clean sheet and looked assured in everything that he was asked to do.

During the match, he won nine aerial duels to relieve the pressure on his team. In addition to his dominance in the air, Mustafi made three tackles, two interceptions and five clearances. His reading of the game was superb and he regularly made the right decisions at the back to halt the Burnley attack. In a three-man defence, it is important that the centre-backs are comfortable on the ball and the German was on Sunday. He completed 84% of his passes and offered a good out-ball when the midfielders ahead of him were put under pressure.

Burnley are rarely going to be dominated in matches

The Clarets are never going to be the most entertaining team to watch in the Premier League as they focus on organisation and being tough to break down, but they are extremely effective in what they do. At the time of writing, they are in 7th position and emerging as one of the best of the rest. If they had managed to hold onto the point, they would have moved level on points with Liverpool in sixth and that underlines the success they are having under Sean Dyche.

Arsenal came with an attacking line-up and have players that can cause Burnley problems. However, the Clarets weren’t intimidated by their more illustrious opposition and they went about their business in the same manner that they have done all season. They have conceded only 10 goals in 13 matches and that solidity at the back is what gives them the foundations to have their best Premier League season to date.

Alex Iwobi isn’t ready to be starting for Arsenal

The Nigerian international has been a favourite for Arsene Wenger since the beginning of the season. The 21-year-old has featured prominently with Sunday being his 5th Premier League start of the season in the absence of Mesut Ozil. It was a huge blow to be missing the German after his excellent showing against Tottenham, but an opportunity was presented to Iwobi. Unfortunately, the attacker failed to make the most of it.

Iwobi had a number of chances to impress in the final third, but his distribution and decision making weren’t good enough to create clear-cut opportunities. His pass success rate of 91% suggests that he was reliable in possession, but he often chose the easy passes rather than those that are designed to open up the opposition defence. Arsenal lack options in attack and are over-reliant on Sanchez and Ozil. The performance from the 21-year-old on Sunday suggests that he won’t be ready for a regular starting role for the foreseeable future.

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