Good Day at the Survival Office for Burnley!
Saturday 10th January 2015 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets took a massive step on the road to survival on Saturday after defeating fellow relegation-threatened QPR 2-1 at Turf Moor. This vital six-pointer saw the Clarets leapfrog the Rs and move out of the relegation zone. It was a defeat that gave Harry Redknapp the unwanted record of being the first team to lose their first 10 away games of a top-flight season since Sunderland in 1964/65!
Burnley opened the scoring in the 12th minutes thanks to a superb solo effort from Scott Arfield. The Scottish winger cut in from the left and easily got the better of Joey Barton, Mauricio Isla and Richard Dunne before firing into the opposite corner. There could be no complaints when Marney brought down Austin in the box to concede a penalty in the 33rdh minute. Austin naturally took the spot kick himself and thumped the ball home to equalise. Four minutes later though and Burnley were back in front after some more poor defending by the visitors. Steven Caulker was at fault initially after being unable to deal with a high ball into the box. Ings took the ball down and after some crafty footwork beat Rob Green with a low finish. The Clarets had the upper hand in the second-half. Rob Green though was once again in top form and stopped the hosts increasing their lead on numerous occasions. Burnley looked like they had increased their lead after Barnes bundled the ball in from close range but the linesman ruled that Green had been fouled by the Clarets forward. In the end it was a pretty convincing 2-1 win and confidence will be sky high now with Palace up next at home this Saturday.
The Clarets are now in 17th spot with 20 points from 21 games. Interestingly this was the same tally that we had at this stage the last time we were in the Premier League back in 2009-10. Back then we had just lost our manager, Owen Coyle who had jumped ship to Bolton and our caretaker manager Steve David had just followed him leaving the club in a terrible pickle. It was a pickle that would be preserved and of course we never recovered and finished up back in the Championship! Could things be different though this time? We have a great manager who will be staying put and having started off slowly we are now picking up momentum and playing some impressive football. The next three league games all against relegation-threatened clubs will be crucial and two of those will be at home against Crystal Palace and West Brom whilst sandwiched in between is a trip to the Stadium of Light to play Sunderland. Bottom club, Leicester are back to winning ways after beating Aston Villa 1-0 at home on Saturday but they are still propping up the table three points behind the Clarets QPR are now second from bottom and remain on 19 points after defeat at Turf Moor and they are just behind Hull on goal difference. The Tigers lost 1-0 away to fellow strugglers, West Brom but the Baggies in 14th spot have just one point more than the Clarets. Palace and Sunderland are now just ahead of Burnley on goal difference in 15th and 16th respectively. These three clubs we play next so it is all getting very tight down there and it is clear to see how important the next three matches will be to our survival hopes. It really is make or break for the Clarets. Victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday could see the Clarets go as high as 12th spot depending on how well Everton and Aston Villa currently both on 22 points in 12th and 13th spot respectively do in their games next Saturday.
There was some good news in the centre of defence. Jason Shackell was back in the starting eleven after picking up a calf injury in the New Year`s Day clash away to Newcastle and missing the FA Cup game last Monday night against Spurs at Turf Moor. Michael Duff too was back in the eighteen after being sidelined for nine games also with a calf injury and he duly took his place up on the bench. With our captain back, Ben Mee could take up his left back spot again. David Jones also returned after a short illness that sidelined him for the FA Cup clash allowing Scott Arfield to take up his more regular position out on the wing. The line-up therefore had a familiar ring to it allowing Sean Dyche to name an unchanged team for the seventh consecutive League game which is actually a new Premier League record!
Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee, Boyd, Marney, Jones, Arfield, Ings, Barnes
Subs: Gilks, Duff, Reid, Wallace, Kightly, Jutkiewicz, Vokes
Full Match Report
West Midlands referee Andre Marriner got the game underway on a cold, wet blustery day in Burnley and it was the Clarets who started the brighter of the two teams. Their first real chance came after nine minutes. Ings linked well with Marney finding George Boyd on the edge of the box. Rob Green though was not troubled too much by Boyd`s effort on target. Just three minutes later though Scott Arfield stole the show in spectacular style to put the Clarets 1-0 up. The Scot controlled the ball out on the left before weaving his way into the penalty area on a mazy run that saw Joey Barton well-beaten, Mauricio Isla nutmegged and Richard Dunne brushed aside. Cutting inside Dunne he then unleashed a low curling shot into the far corner of the net. It was a spectacular effort which according to Sean Dyche might have been shown far more times over the weekend had it been scored by Alexis Sanchez (see 'Dyche Deliberation` below). The visitors though hit back strongly. An attempt hit first time by former Clarets striker, Charlie Austin in the 16th minute flew against the post and came back out. Leroy Fer then saw his effort fly just wide of the post. Back came the Clarets though. Rob Green needed two attempts to save an in-swinging free kick into the penalty area from David Jones. Just after the hour mark though the visitors leveled things up after being awarded a penalty. Dean Marney was adjudged to have brought down Austin who had controlled the ball in the box. Austin usually makes no mistake from the spot and this time he smashed a low ball past Heaton into the corner of the net to make it 1-1. The Rs were now enjoying their best spell of the game and they nearly got their noses in front soon after equalising following a spectacular volley from Eduardo Vargas. Heaton though pulled off an equally spectacular flying save. Moments later the tables were turned with Burnley regaining the lead. Ashley Barnes put Ings through on goal but he still had plenty to do. Caulker was exposed in defence and should have done better to clear the danger but Ings got the better of him before coolly then putting the ball past Richard Dunne to side-foot the ball home with his left foot to give Burnley a 2-1 deserved half-time lead.
Neither manager made any changes for the start of the second-half and six minutes into the half the hosts nearly made it 3-1. Barnes latched onto a throw in from Ben Mee and finding himself unmarked in the penalty area attempted a left-footed shot that fully tested Green. Mee then nearly got a rare goal himself just on the hour mark but was just inches away after getting on the end of a Trippier delivery from a corner. In the 63rd minute another outstanding deep long-ball from Trippier found Ings who once again had managed to get in behind the Rs back line. Controlling the ball well with the outside of his right boot, he then produced a shot which flew inches wide of the post. The visitors were now desperately looking for an equaliser and brought on Zamora to improve their fire power but it had little effect. The Clarets continued to look the most likely to score the next goal and they thought they had after Mee connected with his head to put the keeper under pressure. Barnes bundled the ball home from close range but the linesman adjudged he had fouled Green in the process and the goal was striked off. On 72 minutes it was time for Sam Vokes to make an entrance after coming on from the bench to replace Barnes. Ings then found the tight angle after being put through by Arfield a bit too confusing and in two minds was unable to test the keeper and the ball went out of play. By now QPR were reduced to long range efforts but these were easy meat for Heaton who rarely looked troubled. It was Green though who was seeing most of the action and he came to the Rs rescue again to deny new permanent signing, Michael Keane his first goal after spectacularly saving his header at the far post. It was Keane again two minutes from time who attempted yet another header but this time it was off-target. The last action saw Heaton deny the visitors a point saving Caulker`s header in routine fashion. This was a vital three points, make no mistake about that and it keeps the momentum and confidence going with three more games coming up next against sides struggling to survive.
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee, Boyd, Marney, Jones, Arfield, Ings, Barnes (Vokes 72)
Subs not used: Gilks, Duff, Reid, Wallace, Kightly, Jutkiewicz
Goals: Arfield 12, Ings 37
Bookings: Yellow Cards for Marney (45 + 2) and Barnes (53)
QPR: Green, Isla, Dunne, Caulker, Hill (Traoré 75), Vargas (Zárate 75), Barton, Henry (Zamora 69), Fer, Taarabt, Austin
Subs not used: McCarthy, Onuoha, Mutch, Phillips
Goal: Austin 33 (pen)
Bookings: Yellow Cards for Barton (45) and Traoré (76)
Possession: 45% Burnley, 55% QPR (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
"Scotty Arfield`s goal is tremendous. There are two nutmegs and a fine finish. If that is Alexis Sanchez that gets shown 1000 times over the weekend. We will be lucky to get 15"