Burnley lost at home to Newcastle yesterday evening, leaving them just a point and place above the bottom three.
An early Newcastle goal from a Federico Fernandez deflected effort, which went in off Clarets defender Ben Mee set the tone. Then just 22 minutes into the game, Ciaran Clark’s soft header from Matt Ritchie’s cross gave Newcastle an unassailable lead, despite Burnley pulling one back from Sam Vokes’ excellent looping header, that left goalkeeper Martin Dubravka stranded.
The Clarets huffed and puffed but were unable to force an equaliser – and indeed Newcastle ought to have scored more; missing an open goal in the second half and substitute Joselu also hit the post.
Despite playing some tidy football at points last night, Burnley were very one-paced and looked easy to defend against – as the visitors got men behind the ball, then broke with pace. It was a stark contrast to Burnley’s ponderous approach play, which in truth never looked likely to bear fruit.
Burnley did mix it up too – throwing long balls forward, but, aside from Vokes’ goal, this too proved largely futile. It was epitomised by the performance of Chris Wood who won little in the air, seemed largely static, missed chances and was woefully at fault in the build up to the first goal. What do Barnes and Vydra have to do to get a start?
Vokes performance aside, another bright point for Burnley was the performance of Kevin Long, who deputised excellently for the apparently injured James Tarkowski.
However, that was offset by the aforementioned Wood, as well as an ineffectual performance from Robbie Brady and the concerning lack of form from Jack Cork this season.
Burnley’s famously solid back line of last season now seems like a distant memory, as the side is shipping so many soft goals. Worryingly, this lack of form has coincided with two things – improvements in form at other struggling clubs and a change of management at Fulham; and – of much deeper concern – rumours swirling round the area of a lack of unity in the dressing room and lurid stories of players having fallen out.
Discord of this nature is usually ruinous to a side’s fortunes and although we’re not even in December yet, it’s clear that short of something radical happening, Burnley are in a relegation dog fight that, at the moment, they look ill-equipped to survive.