Burnley Lose the Edge in Sunderland Defeat!
Stadium of Light
Saturday 31st January 2015 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat against fellow relegation-threatened Sunderland in the Stadium of Light on Saturday. They were never really at the races apart from the period leading up to the Black Cats first goal from Connor Wickham in the 20th minute. Burnley simply lost their composure and confidence after that and it was looking like a mountain to climb already when new boy Jermain Defoe made it 2-0 in the 34th minute. The second-half showed some improvement from the visitors but it still had little to commend it as far as the Clarets were concerned and they created few real chances. At least Sunderland did not add to their tally but they picked up all three points in only their second win at home all season. It would have been yet another great chance to pull clear of our rivals trying to avoid the drop even if we just picked up a point but it wasn`t to be. Thankfully the bottom three clubs also all lost. Bottom club Leicester went down 3-1 to United at Old Trafford, QPR lost 3-1 away to Stoke and in the early kick-off game Newcastle despatched Hull City 3-0 in the KC Stadium. That simply means we remain in 17th spot just out of the drop zone and just one point ahead of both Hull and QPR. In terms of the clubs within three points catching distance above Burnley, Crystal Palace who lost 1-0 at home to Everton on Saturday following their victory over the Clarets in their last league game remain just three points clear of Burnley in 13th position and they are now joined by Sunderland just behind them on goal difference. Next Sunday Burnley play what must be their most crucial game of the season at home to West Brom. This is a vital six-pointer and brings to an end our run of four consecutive league games against teams struggling along with Burnley to avoid the drop. West Brom also lost on Saturday on home soil going down 3-0 to Spurs and they are now in 15th spot with only two points more than the Clarets. They could drop down a place if Aston Villa somehow manage to pick up points against Arsenal at the Emirates today (Sunday). Currently Villa are just behind Midlands rivals, West Brom on goal difference only. It is clearly crucial that Burnley beat the Baggies on Sunday to try and pull further clear of the bottom three especially with such a difficult set of games coming up after that. The next eight games are all against teams currently in the top ten of the league table and the schedule looks horrendous! Manchester United (A), Chelsea (A), Swansea (H), Liverpool (A), Manchester City (H), Southampton (A), Spurs (H) and Arsenal (H). Could it look any worse? How we might regret not getting anything at home to Palace in particular but also in the Sunderland game yesterday.
Sean Dyche as expected named the same starting eleven for the ninth consecutive league game. Lukas Jutkiewicz also made the bench after recovering from a foot injury. The now familiar line-up therefore was as follows:
Heaton, Trippier, Shackell , Keane, Mee, Arfield, Marney, Jones, Boyd, Ings, Barnes
Subs: Gilks, Reid, Duff, Wallace, Kightly, Vokes, Jutkiewicz
Full Match Report
The Clarets came out for this one in an unusual strip sporting their all silver third kit for the first time! There would sadly be no silver lining to any clouds though in the end. In fact it was such a windy, blustery day in the North East the clouds were blown away anyway! Lee Mason got the game underway. In the early stages it was the Black Cats playing 4-4-2 who looked the more nervous of the two teams with the home fans ready to get on their back if they didn`t perform well enough. Remember they had only won one game in the Stadium of Light all season so the pressure was certainly on the hosts. The Black Cats defence looked uncertain over the first 17 minutes or so if only the Clarets could take advantage. They tried but in the end failed! The hosts` nerves looked to have been steadied when Wickham found the back of the net in the 10th minute but the referee had spotted a foul on Trippier and the goal was scratched off. Burnley looked the better of the two teams at this stage and in the 17th minute created probably their only real chance of the whole game. The Clarets had been awarded a free kick and the ball was swung over by David Jones to find Ashley Barnes. He had a glorious chance to put Burnley 1-0 up but his header from near the right touchline flew just wide of target. The Clarets kept pressing and an attempted cross from Trippier nearly caught out Sunderland keeper, Costel Pantilimon who just managed to catch the ball beneath his crossbar. Just a few seconds later though Burnley were trailing 1-0 when in the 20th minute Anthony Reveillere on the right put over a perfect cross to find Wickham who nodded home from point-blank range to put the hosts 1-0 up. The Clarets never really recovered from that body blow although things might have been different if Boyd had not scuffed his shot from 12 yards out on the turn moments later. Pantilimon saved with some ease. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Sunderland doubled their lead eleven minutes from half-time. Jordi Gomez managed to put in a ball behind Trippier to find Van Aanholt on a well-timed run. His cross found Defoe and he had the simple task of slotting home. Burnley now had a mountain to climb and were probably relieved when the whistle went for the end of the half. At least they now had a chance to regroup!
Neither manager made any changes for the start of the second-half. The Clarets were now under real pressure and were lucky not to go further behind straight from the restart. This time though Defoe after some nice approach work made a hash of his shot and Heaton easily saved. The next goal was probably going to be crucial and the hosts once again seemed to look a little nervous! If Burnley could get a goal back now it would be game on and they came close 10 minutes into the second-half. Boyd cleverly created some space to cross. Barnes latched onto the ball without having to move but his header didn`t really test the keeper. The Clarets probably had their best spell of the game now and it was Barnes again who came close after latching onto an Ings cut-back on the edge of the box. His low shot though took a deflection and flew agonizingly wide of the post. Scott Arfield who by his standards was having a generally poor game also created a chance but found the angle too tight and fired over the bar. Just past the hour mark it was time for Dyche to freshen things up in attack. On came Ross Wallace (a former Black Cat) and Lukas Jutkiewicz in a double substitution replacing George Boyd and perhaps surprisingly Danny Ings. On 76 minutes Dyche brought on Vokes to replace Barnes but in the end it wasn`t to be and that elusive goal remained just that, elusive! The game was summed up when a looping header from Ben Mee from a Ross Wallace corner flew just the wrong side of the post. It was a bad day at the office all round in the end but at least none of the other relegation-threatened clubs could steal a march.
Sunderland: Pantilimon, van Aanholt, O'Shea, Vergini, Reveillere, Bridcutt, Larsson, Gomez, Wickham (Graham-76), Johnson (Alvarez-86), Defoe (Fletcher-75)
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Jones, Coates, Giaccherini
Goals: Wickham 20, Defoe 34
Booked: Yellow Cards for Johnson (69), Larsson (88) and Pantilimon (90+3)
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Shackell , Keane, Mee, Arfield, Marney, Jones, Boyd (Wallace-60), Ings (Jutkiewicz-61), Barnes (Vokes-76)
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Reid, Duff, Kightly
Booked: Yellow Card for Marney (90+3)
Possession: 50% Sunderland, 50% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton)
Nobody really deserves the accolade of 'Star Player` and it would be hard to give anybody more than 6/10! Ashley Barnes gets it for effort but he really should have done better with his missed chances.
'Within the game we conceded two really poor goals and you can't do that. After that, I thought we gave a reasonable account of ourselves, but we play with an edge to our game and today that wasn't quite there.
'We had two big chances early in both halves, but I won't criticise strikers for getting in the right places. We will just shake this one off and get ready for the next one.'
What a 'next one` it is too!!
Clarets fans might also be wondering why Danny Ings came off surprisingly in this match being replaced by Jutkiewicz just past the hour mark! Well it seems all the talk of him going to Liverpool during the week may well have affected him according to the gaffer who said:
'Danny is a young man, but he's still a human being and he's had a lot on his plate in the last 24 hours.
'Nothing to do with him, you understand. It's completely out of his hands, but I was actually borderline whether to play him today.
'The truth is I thought his performance was a little bit off today because of that. He has been terrific, but I thought it affected him and I thought I'd get him off and give him a break, but Danny Ings will be a Burnley player next week and I'm fed up saying it. He will enjoy his training next week and will be full of beans again.
'In another couple of days all that nonsense shuts off, so then I think the freedom will come back. I just thought today it took its toll a little bit.'