As England’s giants had waged their wars on Saturday along with some of the teams battling relegation, the Monday night football was all about two mid-table clubs locking their horns with each other. Sean Dyche’s Burnley hosted a resilient Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United at the Turf Moor and a victory for any one team would see them finish above their opponent on the table at the end of this gameweek.
The game, however, lacked excitement and as it was expected, both the defenses were solid but the attacks were quite toothless. Both held their ground well but the breakthrough did come late in the second half for Burnley through Jeff Hendrick and it showed that the lad maintained his composure to slot in the ball after a lovely cross from Gudmundsson. Three very clear talking points emerge from Burnley’s victory and they are as follows.
1) Holding on to the services of Sean Dyche is crucial for Burnley
It’s been five years since the Englishman took the job of Burnley and in five years, he’s guided the club to two massive promotions. Burnley have gotten their own identity under Dyche and that identity is something of a very stubborn team that fights together and fights till the very end. Burnley’s home record last season was simply magnificent and the points they accumulated there was a major reason as to why they retained their top-flight status.
This season however, they’ve had a wonderful start. Dyche’s men find themselves in the Europa League spot having played 10 games and in spite of not boasting a strong squad on paper, they’ve battled together and achieved a good run so far. As Everton’s managerial spot hangs temptingly in front of Dyche, it becomes absolutely crucial for the Clarets to hold on to him. In England and in this game especially, things are very unpredictable. Establishments built of years can crumble with a slight error. Dyche’s work has been tremendous and it’s been sketched over years of hard-work and Burnley cannot afford to lose a manager who draws all strings together and such a personality will be hard to replace.
2) Is it time for Rafael Benitez to tinker more and demand more from his attackers?
For a lot of times this season, Newcastle United have just not attacked enough. One major disappointment, especially in the attack for me, has been Joselu followed by Ayoze Perez. Both the players have showed that they had those odd moments where they can shine and drag their team ahead but both have been largely inconsistent.
Joselu remains under the grip of opposition centre-backs for the majority of the game and Perez’s end product has been flabbergasting. Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu are quite direct with their wingplay but they are heavily predictable as well. Is is time for Rafa to trust more in Mitrovic or Gayle and tinker a little more to derive better results?
3) The tactics and pressing have become a bane rather than a boon for the Toons
One key interesting statistic points that all of the goals of Newcastle which they’ve conceded have come in the second half in the away fixtures. This is largely a result of the pressing of Newcastle and the stress they bring upon themselves. No side has the monster energy and the work ethic to press continually for ninety minutes of a game and it clearly is evident in the case of the Toons.
Heavy pressing has lead to deterioration of energy and the Newcastle side are split open in the second half due to this. Hendrick’s goal from the cross of Gudmundsson is a perfect example of that. It’s time that the tactics undergo a change and the side becomes more alert to dangers in the away fixtures.
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