Premier League Game of the Week: Tottenham 4-0 Burnley

Of course before a ball was kicked at the weekend Tottenham were the odds on favourites to win this game, but it hadn’t been a kind few weeks for a club who first slipped out of the title race and then seemed to slip out of a top 4 place.

Reports of behind the scenes shenanigans including manager Jose Mourinho happy to publically criticise players and then not play the £220,000 a week salaried Gareth Bale felt like club owner Daniel Levy and Mourinho could come to blows.

Mourinho was told by ex football players that all Bale needs was a friendly reminder of how good he is and a talk. So, when Mourinho announced before this game that he had done just that and would start Bale, like he had in the Europa League games, there was even more of a positive feeling surrounding this one. Add to the fact that Tottenham destroyed Sean Dyche’s team here last season 5-0, and surely we were looking at three points for the Londoners. We wouldn’t be wrong.

Bale took all of 120 seconds to score the opening goal swiftly shooting from a pass by Heung- Min Son. That was Bale’s 3rd goal for the club this season, despite missing a lot of game time and Son’s 8th assist.

This game felt over 12 minutes later when an energetic and rampant Tottenham side had made it 2-0 through none other than Harry Kane scoring his 14th goal of the season, sure there was a slight deflection one could say but it was all Kane’s. The misery of the first half was not over for Burnley and soon it was 3-0 this time Lucas Moura from an acute angle.

The first half wasn’t all Tottenham and to be fair Burnley had a couple of good chances too but then again the home side had 9 shots at goal and were 3-0 up and Mourinho would have been delighted in the dressing room.

In the second half the threat of more goals followed because Bale had scored his brace for the day just before the hour mark to make it 4-0. Son again assisted and Bale in the area shot low into the bottom left hand corner.

There would be chances for Son and Kane to add to the score but the game stayed at 4-0 and it didn’t matter because Tottenham had put in a superb and commanding display.

The club now have 39 points and are in 8th place and have a game in hand over 4th place West Ham. So there is still all to play for in the race for that final Champions League position.

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Burnley 0-2 Man Utd: The Red Devils continue their fine form with a strong victory over the Clarets

With the main focus of gameweek 20 being on how the Premier League table shapes up on both sides of the division, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had the great opportunity of pushing towards the top four positions, as they travelled away to Turf Moor to face Sean Dyche’s Burnley.

Ahead of the game, both managers would have looked well into the squad depth and any other individuals available, given the hectic list of fixtures in December and where nearly all the teams in the league are playing in three games in ten days. The Red Devils were looking to start being consistent when it came to victories whilst the Clarets were hoping to pull off a potential upset.

Overall, the visitors had dominated possession effortlessly and were hardly under much pressure, which isn’t a surprise as the hosts are the type of team that prefers to defend in a deep block and take the opposition on with a more direct and long ball approach. However, there were only six shots on target throughout the game, as both sides had lacked the much needed creativity.

The first half was pretty much a snooze fest, with very little happening on both areas of the pitch as a lack of risks and opportunities were actually taken by the influential players. It took until the 44th minute of the game to see the first goal, which was taken by the away side due to a defensive mistake made by Charlie Taylor, as Andreas Pereira latched onto the ball on the right side of the pitch before placing into to the feet of Anthony Martial, who calmly slotted it into the net.

Following the half-time break, the game began to open up for both teams, especially for the hosts as the likes of Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil and substitute Aaron Gudmundsson were picking up the ball within the advanced areas of United’s half. Because of this, Solskjaer’s men had to be more compact and proactive on the defensive side, as they have been dominated aerially in recent weeks.

There wasn’t much to go into detail or cover of the second half, until what actually occurred in the final moments of the game. As Burnley won a free-kick in a very dangerous area, which led to a counter-attack for United in a couple of seconds thanks to Daniel James and his burst of pace, and it was just about completed by Marcus Rashford as he went past the keeper and his fortunate touch was able to take the ball away from the Burnley player on the goal line and into the back of the net.

With Manchester United leaving Turf Moor with the much needed three points, it pushes them back to fifth-place and just four points behind fourth-place Chelsea, who have started to become quite inconsistent themselves. Meanwhile for Burnley and Sean Dyche, they have unsurprisingly dropped by one or two spots into 13th place, leaving them with just six points above the relegation zone.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league game…

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford continue to produce the goods

A lot of questions were rightfully asked at the start of the season, on whether the club will regret letting go of both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, especially with no effort being made in replacing the attacking duo. Despite the fact that they were not in Solskjaer’s long-term plans, the side have been better without them, which has to be more down to the brilliance of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, who have only started to play again together and have been running riot.

Rashford has been incredible so far this season, having bagged 12 goals and four assists in 20 league appearances, with a number of his goals coming in the crucial matches and he is yet to hit his peak. And with Martial, he has been out with an injury here and there for around two months so far this term and has still managed to hit double figures in goals and assists by the end of December.

Fred has stepped up massively over the last couple of weeks in midfield

When looking at a midfielder like Fred, it’s quite obvious that he doesn’t have the presence or brilliance that makes him to be seen as a standout defensive-midfielder or attacking-midfielder. On the other hand, his personal role is more of making the team tick and being able to break up the opposition’s play to setting the team on the counter, which he is starting to be appreciated for.

Although he needed some time settling into the physicality and high intensity side of the Premier League, the Brazilian international has now gained a better understanding of how everything is set out and what he had to do on his end. Due to his determination and hunger to succeed, he has turned his United career around and has become one of the side’s best players so far this season, having produced some dominant displays against the likes of Brighton, Man City and Spurs.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men picked up a huge victory and have to build on from here

It’s been the side’s second time this season where they have completed back to back victories in the league, which does imply that the ideal consistency is not there in order for the team to convincingly finish in the top four. However, with both Chelsea and Leicester City slipping up slightly in recent weeks, the race for a top four finish could become wide open once the busy fixtures are finally over.

Most importantly, Solskjaer and United will have to focus on their own games and begin to pick up the three points week in and out, and then depend on other results in the league to go their way. If the momentum can shift into their favour and they get down to business in the January transfer window, then the side’s chances of seeing Champions League football next season increases massively, especially when the first half of the campaign has been quite forward and backwards.

Manchester United 2-2 Burnley: The winning run comes to an end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer


Manchester United had a big chance to extend their run of winning matches to eight league games, with their next fixture being at home to Burnley, a side that have managed to go on their own winning run in recent weeks. With the side being only a few points behind the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, it was important for the Red Devils to pick up the three points and in a secure manner.

Overall, United experienced one of those nights where nothing was going well for them in the final third of the pitch and they were struggling to create constant clear-cut chances. However, the home side unsurprisingly fell asleep on a few typical occasions, which allowed the visitors to pounce on the lack of concentration from the defenders to score twice in the second half through Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.

Majority of the supporters thought the game was done and dusted, though, the introduction of Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard turned the momentum around as they began to play the ball at a high tempo and with attacking intent. United first pulled a goal back through a Paul Pogba penalty, and then minutes later, achieved the equaliser as Victor Lindelof scored his first goal for the football club.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

United’s toughest battle yet at home

It is probably straightforward to say that the Burnley fixture has been Solskjaer’s biggest test so far this season, not due to the end outcome, purely because of the fact that Sean Dyche’s men were defending in their own half for majority of the match. Due to the opposition’s setup, it forced United to play in an uncomfortable way that led them to managing zero shots on target in the first half.

Not only that, Tom Heaton was having one of his best games, or else, the hosts would have easily scored a further two or three goals on another day. Since the arrival of the interim coach, United have played the likes of Burnley, Brighton, Bournemouth and Huddersfield at Old Trafford, which does mean that this stalemate has to be seen as a wakeup call for the manager and the players before the big fixtures kick in.

Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were missed badly

Ole made a couple of changes and they were pretty much required, especially to make sure that the squad as a whole, received enough game time ahead of the make or break February fixtures. Against Burnley, the likes of Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Phil Jones and Romelu Lukaku were brought into the line-up, but none of them showed a single reason to why they deserve to remain in the starting XI in the long run.

On a serious note, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were badly missed, two individuals that have the pure ability and the quality to make the side simply tick in midfield and attack. When both players are not in the team, the side’s pressing off the ball is inconsistent and unorganised, whilst the side’s way of utilising possession is ineffective and really slow without the two main duo.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot to learn from his first league draw

Although the hosts dominated possession and created most of their best chances in the second half, they did not do enough in taking their shots and it led the visitors to grow in confidence as they took their limited chances on the counter-attack. By the 81st minute, Burnley seemingly had the three points secured and all they had to, was continue to defend in their own half for the final ten minutes of the game or so.

In the end, the comeback to come from 2-0 down to 2-2 will be seen as a huge positive turnaround, but it is still two points dropped and the chances of finishing in the top four slightly decreases. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to improve his in-game management as well as his ability to quickly react to any rising issues, whether it’s the side failing to take their chances, or the opposition posing more threat towards the final stages of the game and are coming really close to scoring.

Burnley’s awful start presents greatest challenge for Dyche

Burnley were a sensation last season. Sean Dyche’s side defied expectation and analytics to finish 7th in the Premier League, historically booking themselves a place in the Europa League.

Just a few months later, though, Burnley’s European adventure ended before it really started, and the Premier League table already looks ugly. The Clarets have just one point from five league matches and have lost four straight after being beaten 1-0 by Wolves on Sunday afternoon. The football is not massively to different to last season, the results, however, are.

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Burnley 0-2 Manchester United: The talking points

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Manchester United strolled past an uninspiring Burnley side on Sunday evening. The Red Devils were in dire need of a response and most importantly, a win. So was Burnley. The Clarets were winless coming into this fixture. But, United displayed their class and went home with the three points, even with a man down.

United started off on the front foot, as they did against Spurs. Jesse Lingard came close to scoring, twice, before Romelu Lukaku scored a towering header to put United into the lead. It was a lead that United deserved, because of their attacking threat and the number of chances that they had created. Sanchez and Lingard were at the heart of everything United did, even the second goal. Lingard’s shot was deflected and Lukaku pounced upon the ball to slot it past Joe Hart, just before the break.

The second half followed the same pattern. United earned a penalty, only for Paul Pogba to miss it. Things got heated up after that, with Marcus Rashford getting sent off after an altercation with ex-red Phil Bardsley. Burnley applied the pressure and came close through Sam Vokes, but didn’t do enough to score even one against David De Gea. United had plenty of chances on the counter too, but Lukaku still couldn’t complete his hattrick.

Romelu Lukaku

The Role of Marouanne Fellaini

When the team sheets came in, to everyone’s surprise, Marouanne Fellaini started in place of Fred. Mourinho has always trusted Fellaini, as he gets going when the going gets tough. Fellaini has always been criticised for his lack of technical ability, with fans and pundits alike saying that the Big Belgian isn’t fit to wear the United shirt. But, time and time again, Fellaini has put in match-winning performances, giving it his all for the badge and the manager. Fellaini wasn’t there to dictate tempo or build play from deep. Fellaini’s role was to protect Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling from Burnley’s long balls to Chris Wood. And he did that to perfection, winning 100% of his tackles, seven aerial duels and made six clearances. As a result, both Lindelof and Smalling looked solid. Lindelof was assured and composed playing out from the back, because of Fellaini’s protection.

Unconvincing Burnley

Burnley’s adventure in Europe has surely taken a toll on their players. The Clarets did not at all looked energetic and did not seem to have any intention of taking away anything from the game, let alone winning it. Sure, they applied some pressure towards the end, but never looked like scoring. They could have easily lost the game by 5 or 6, had United been efficient and converted their chances. The defence was all over the place, Ben Mee struggled to keep up with Lukaku, Cork and Westwood got dominated in midfield while Jeff Hendrick couldn’t support Wood up top. Dyche’s man left all kinds of spaces in between the lines for the likes of Lingard and Pogba to drift into. The International Break will surely do them good. The Clarets need to come back refreshed and energised and focused on the Premier League following the break. There is a lack of goals and chances created and Dyche has got his hands full.

The importance of Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard just might be Manchester United’s most valuable player. The Englishman has gone from being taken as a joke to making United tick in the attack. His relation with Lukaku has been blossoming since last season, his friendship with Pogba always pays dividends on the fields while he is also establishing an on-field connection with Alexis Sanchez. His movement, energy and how he finds pockets of spaces in between the lines is essential for United to break down their opponents. He needed to add goals to his game, and he did that last season. He must prolong his form.

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Pozzo family building success at Watford and Udinese

pozzosEver since Giampaolo Pozzo entered the world of football when he purchased Serie A club Udinese back in 1986, he and his family have built their own empire by way of guiding their clubs to new heights. After a rocky start in Udine which saw the club relegated to Serie B following a betting scandal, Pozzo went right back to basics and built a club which is this year celebrating its 24th consecutive year as a Serie A side. This sound guidance has seen him having previously been voted the best president in Serie A a decade ago, before a year later branching out into La Liga with the purchase of Granada FC. He spent seven years as owner there before ultimately selling in 2016 to Chinese businessman, Jiang Lizhang. In June 2012, however, another project of his was born.

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Dyche is much more than a ‘Ginger Mourinho’

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Meant as a term of endearment, calling Sean Dyche the ‘ginger Mourinho’ is belittling to a man that’s achieved the almost impossible with Burnley.

The Clarets’ supporters have never seen anything like it in generations.

European football at Turf Moor, top 10 in the Premier League and on a shoestring budget to boot.

Such miracle work is on a par with anything the Special One has done with many more millions to work with.

It was 1961 the last time this part of Lancashire could watch teams from the continent in official competition as opposed to friendlies and testimonials.

Ten years before Dyche was even born!

They now face Greek giants Olympiacos for a place in the Europa League proper which shows just how far the club have come under the Kettering-born 47-year-old’s stewardship.

In the six years since he’s been first team manager at the club, he’s taken them back to the top flight, breaking all sorts of records on their way to promotion, including the best start to a season since they were founded in 1882.

Perhaps more remarkably is that they’re back in Europe after getting relegated back to the Championship and then surviving by the skin of their teeth in 16th after another promotion to the Premier League. Dyche has certainly moulded his side into so much more than a team of ‘hoofers.’

Their ball-playing ability is as good as any team on their day, as many of the perceived ‘bigger’ clubs have found out to their cost.

Hard work always gets its reward in the end, and Dyche is fully aware that what his team lacks in genuine star quality, they more than make up for in team spirit, effort and desire.

His main issue now is whether he has a squad that has enough depth to deal with the demands of a Thursday night game somewhere in Europe followed by a tough Premier League battle.

The bread and butter for the club remains the English top flight and that shouldn’t be sacrificed for a single-season sojourn around the continent, however appealing that is at first.

Getting Joe Hart as their new No.1 is a real coup for the club and the keeper, like Aaron Lennon and Robbie Brady et al before him, have all joined because they believe in the project that their manager is creating.

Of course, with success comes expectation, and Dyche has continued to deliver on that score.

But there is a ceiling.

Sooner or later, the wall will be hit and it’s at that point that the manager will need his board, staff, players and the supporters to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

Despite being the custodian of his role for just six seasons, he’s already one of the longer serving managers in the Premier League, which is scandalous.

And yet, if his paymasters can have the foresight to allow him to keep building, then a blip here and there should make no difference at all.

Manager of the year was never a bad shout but because he’s not ‘fashionable,’ that was never going to happen.

However, it’s time Dyche was recognised for the excellent motivator, communicator and man manager he is.

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Why Sean Dyche Should Win Manager of the Year


With the annual Premier League awards fast approaching towards the end of the month, there has been much discussion regarding which player should be the one to lift the Premier League Player of the Season award. The other awards haven’t been discussed quite as much, though. For example, surely Man City boss Pep Guardiola will be the one to secure the Manager of the Year award?

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