The Clarets fell to a 1-0 defeat after a close game at Turf Moor, with Anthony Martial’s second-half strike proving enough to win the game for his side. The defeat continues Burnley’s winless run in the Premier League and sees them drop out of the top seven behind in-form Leicester City. Here are, in my opinion, the major talking points following the game:
An Impressive Performance
The main point to take from the game is how well Sean Dyche’s side played considering their recent run of poor form and disappointing results. Though they approached the game on the back of a seven-game winless run in the Premier League, the Clarets matched United and gave them a really tough game. It shows how far the club has come over the last couple of years to be disappointed with a 1-0 loss to United, especially with Mourinho’s men sitting in second place, but a sense of frustration surrounded Turf Moor at full-time after Burnley did more than enough to warrant at least a point.
Despite the positive that can be taken from the game, Sean Dyche will be ruing a number of golden opportunities that his side failed to take. James Tarkowski looked certain to give the home side the lead when he found himself unmarked at the back post from a deep free-kick but he failed to steer his header into the far corner. Ashley Barnes also had a great chance to score from a set-piece, failing to guide his header on target after losing his defender in the midst of a busy penalty area.
The Clarets lacked a cutting edge, which has been a regular problem this season having scored just 19 times this season. Although having a tight defence has often compensated for a lack of quality in the final third, it may be time for Sean Dyche to invest in another striker, with former-Claret Danny Ings being linked with a return to Turf Moor on loan. Ings is desperate to play regularly in the Premier League and is rumoured to be available on a loan deal, so that move seems to be a good option for all involved.
A Moment of Quality
Ultimately, the difference between the two sides on the day was a moment of quality from Anthony Martial. The Frenchman slotted an emphatic finish past Nick Pope after a quick counter-attack which proved to be enough to earn his side the three points. Martial showed the goalscoring prowess that the Clarets lacked throughout the game, making the most of a difficult chance to open the scoring.
On reflection, there is not much more Burnley could have done to keep a clean sheet; they suffered from a deadly counter-attack finished exquisitely by Martial. As is often the case when facing the big sides, a moment of individual brilliance has proved to be the Clarets’ undoing, costing them a valuable point against Mourinho’s side.
The Financial Gap
United’s line-up featured a duo of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku worth significantly more than Burnley’s starting eleven, costing the club over £160 million. Although Burnley have improved financially since avoiding relegation, there is still a huge gap between the clubs regarding transfer budgets. The Clarets broke their record transfer-fee by signing New Zealand international Chris Wood from Leeds for around £15 million over the summer, a fraction of what United paid for Lukaku.
When comparing the gap between the two sides, it makes Burnley’s effort more impressive, as well as highlighting how disappointing United were on the day considering what they are capable of.
Should Nkoudou Start?
The winger again made an impact from the bench in his Turf Moor debut, troubling the United defence with his pace and dribbling ability. Sean Dyche’s decision to start with Scott Arfield was a sensible one as the Canada international can always be relied upon to work hard and help the defence. However, it may have been a better option to start Nkoudou in an attempt to take the game to Mourinho’s side and try to get the first goal, which Nkoudou would arguably be the more effective option.
It seems likely that Dyche will again start with Arfield against Manchester City in two weeks’ time but it would be interesting to see what effect the inclusion of Nkoudou would have on the starting eleven. The former Marseille winger is capable of troubling even the best Premier League defences on his day and giving him a start may be worth the risk.