Burnley 1 Newcastle United 0
By Andrew Aziz
Sean Dyche celebrated his five-year anniversary as Burnley manager with a tight win which showed lots of passion and industry. There was a lack in true quality which is surprising considering both clubs came into the game in the top ten of the league. A match shown live on Sky, which the entertainment company’s bosses may be disappointed at the lack of talking points and chances this game generated.
Dyche, who had an emotional highlights reel on the big screen, in the build-up to the game to celebrate his lengthy spell at the East Lancashire club. Burnley, who were missing record signing Chris Wood, had the non-prolific Ashley Barnes starting. Burnley during the game had a tendency to mix up the strategies at times going for a long ball but also trying to play through the thirds through passing football. Both teams really lacked penetration and there was a definite lack of spontaneity/invention in their attempts to create a goal. Defensively sound and organised made them a very hard side for Newcastle to try and open up. Jeff’s Hendrick goal in the 78th minute was perhaps the only bit of attacking quality from either side in the whole ninety minutes.
Newcastle meanwhile will reflect on how Spaniard Mikel Merino’s late back injury perhaps changed their game plan. Merino, who scored the winner last week at home to Crystal, was missed with Diame and Shelvey unable to replace the Spaniard’s ability to set the tempo. Diame, who was signed as a replacement Sissoko in 2016, was unable to provide an adequate shield for the defence or able to make any runs from the deep to trouble the commanding figures of Tarkowski and Mee.
The Tyneside outfit will be disappointed at the lack of cutting edge which Newcastle need to address in the January window. Newcastle have failed to score on the road. Brighton, Huddersfield and Burnley but it will be the lack of threatening chances that will be worrying Rafa. Joselu, who Stoke were happy to let go in the summer, does not have the physicality or pace to trouble defenders and has been very underwhelming. Benitez clearly does not feel he can rely on last year’s top scorer Dwight Gayle who has been found wanting when given opportunities this year. Rafa has also decided that he cannot rely on Mitrovic following his retrospective 3 game-ban earlier this year and his absence from the bench yesterday was a damning indictment. Atsu meanwhile has found the transition to Premier League football very difficult and is shown by his reluctance in taking on full-backs which he did so regularly in last year’s Championship title win. Perez, who’s concession of possession led to Burnley’s winner, does press the ball with industry and Rafa clearly likes that. However, he has a tendency to lose possession and his inability to play a penetrating ball is concerning considering he is playing in the number ten role.
In summary, Burnley fans will be hoping that Dyche stays for another five years as he has created a team with a Premier League defence which admirers Everton would be very envious of. Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports described Newcastle as a Championship team with a Champions League manager. Newcastle, will be hoping that takeover talk comes to fruition so that their world class manager is able to buy the Champions League strike force he deserves.
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