A little of the “fog” that had descended on Turf Moor in the trauma of ejection from the Europa League seemed to lift this weekend, as the Clarets put Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth to the sword.
Sean Dyche’s somewhat evocative description of the post-Europa hangover described the circumstances perfectly, but also alluded to what many travelling supporters will have known as they experience Turf Moor’s rarified, humid and often freezing cold atmosphere. Big respect to the small band of Bournemouth supporters who ventured north from their semi-tropical climate, to endure the tribulations of the misty moors and Pennine foothills that hem in the town of Burnley and its famous old ground.
They must have been bemused as their high flying side, who started the day fifth in the Premier League, were emphatically beaten in a game where they contributed hugely and which must have provided great entertainment to neutrals.
Burnley actually started the game very brightly and seemed to force the visitors onto the back foot without creating too many clear cut opportunities. That said, Sean Dyche’s team selection seemed to be more positive – a 4-4-2 formation with Matej Vydra starting for the first time alongside Sam Vokes and with wide men seemingly intent on getting forward and playing the ball into the box, rather than playing as advanced, auxiliary full-backs.
Nevertheless, during the first half, Bournemouth settled and in Wilson, Frasor and King had enough to keep the Clarets back four on their toes – and to force a few decent saves from Joe Hart, who seems to be growing in confidence with each passing game – which was surely the object of the exercise when he signed for Burnley.
Just before half time the breakthrough came, with a goal from Vydra – on his full debut, the universally recognised mark of a good striker. He seemed to enjoy it – somewhat in contrast to his recently expressed feelings about the east Lancashire climate. He’s learnt the hard way; sunshine in Manchester has no bearing on the weather in Burnley. But the deluge that was approaching – on this occasion, at least – had nothing to do with precipitation! Just a couple of minutes later and the Clarets were two up. The exceptional Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson played an excellent ball from the right for Aaron Lennon to slide in at the far post and finish well.
In truth the first half had been fairly evenly contested, Bournemouth had hit the bar when Nathan Ake’s shot deflected over Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart, but the Clarets quick fire brace saw them go into the break with some breathing space.
The game followed the same pattern in the second half – again Bournemouth contributed to the spectacle, forcing Joe Hart to make a good save to deny David Brooks. But much as predicted in the match preview Bournemouth had a torrid time – despite moments of dominance, they just couldn’t break Burnley down, whereas the Clarets were unforgiving and with two late strikes from Ashley Barnes, they made the scoreline somewhat emphatic.
it was a hugely encouraging victory for the Clarets, who only scored 17 home league goals last season. Four in a game was sufficient for the Bene n’ Hot – the town’s famous and idiosyncratic tipple – to be flowing long into the night.
Man of the match has to go to Aaron Lennon – who rolled back the years to produce a performance with pace and quality; a goal and an assist. Without question his best performance in a Burnley shirt.
Burnley now look forward to games against Cardiff and Huddersfield. A good return from those games and surely the Clarets faithful can ask “Crisis, what crisis?” It seems as the end of September approaches the metaphorical “fog” has lifted from Turf Moor, just as the literal fog rolls off the Pennine moors to make this place somewhat inhospitable to visitors – just how we like it!