TALKING POINTS: Burnley 1, West Ham 2

Burnley were brought back down to earth by West Ham on Monday night, after their record Premier League away win at Wolves.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:12 am
Sean Dyche

While Chris Wood continued his rich vein of goalscoring form, netting from the spot to put the Clarets in front, Michail Antonio netted twice in eight minutes to turn the game around.

Antonio could and should have had a hat-trick, and while Burnley had chances of their own to equalise, the Hammers were worthy winners.

Here are the talking points:

WOOD IN THE ZONE

You would fancy Wood to score against any side he faces at present, with his current goal return and performances in general.

But he particularly enjoys facing the Hammers, and he again duly obliged - his first half penalty firing Burnley in front, after the New Zealand international was brought down by Tomas Soucek, having deftly brought down Ashley Westwood's superb ball over the top.

That was Wood's seventh goal in eight Premier League appearances against West Ham, and he has now scored in all four games he has played against the East London club at Turf Moor.

He was a thorn in the West Ham side throughout with his running in behind, and, with seven goals in as many games, and 11 now for the season, who is to be against him topping his 2019/20 best of 14?

HOME RECORD

In a season where home advantage has effectively counted for little, with fans eagerly awaiting a return to grounds, it is perhaps no surprise to see Burnley have struggled without their passionate support.

This was an eighth-successive game without a win at Turf Moor in the Premier League, not including an FA Cup exit at the hands of Championship side Bournemouth.

It's been a long year or so for everyone, and fans are no doubt counting down the days until they can return to their happy place.

You imagine manager Sean Dyche and his players want that backing back in the ground as soon as possible as well.

Of their nine league wins to date, only four have come at home.

The five away wins, and, particularly, where they came, are a sign of Burnley's growth at this level, but a ground that has the reputation of being something of a fortress has been breached too often.

GIVING UP LEADS

In three of their last five games now, Burnley have gone in front, only to come away without a point.

They have seen those leads evaporate in brief spells as well - 2-0 up at Southampton became 2-2 in the 3-2 defeat at St Mary's, and a 1-0 advantage at home to Newcastle was overturned in five second half minutes.

And against the Hammers, two Michail Antonio goals in eight minutes saw the visitors recover from a goal down.

The Clarets have been far more productive of late, indeed, only Manchester City and Leicester could top their goal return in the six games before Monday night.

However, their typically reliable defence has now shipped nine in five games, and that strong jaw is taking a bit too much punishment.

The clean sheet at Wolves was a first in eight games, and West Ham always looked like breaching Nick Pope's goal, with the clever movement and fluidity of their forwards.

Burnley had dropped five points from winning positions all season before the trip to Southampton, three on the opening day at Leicester.

However, that is now nine in the last five games, as the age-old search for the right balance continues.

BIG SIX

As chairman Alan Pace wrote in his programme notes: "The Hammers have since been on a fantastic run of form which has defied pre-season expectations and taken them to the verge of European football.

"A great example – if ever one was needed – of the competitive nature of the Premier League, and the excitement that the race for European qualification can generate."

After the proposed European Super League's swift rise and fall, David Moyes' side are showing exactly why qualifying for Europe's biggest competitions should be a meritocracy, not a closed shop.

And, while the Hammers have never been crowned English champions - their fans will remind you nevertheless of their 'World Cup win' in 1966, with Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters scoring all four goals in the final against West Germany - what gives Spurs more of a right to be considered 'elite'?

You can debate at the moment which is the better side, with the Hammers leapfrogging back above Spurs into fifth with the win at Turf Moor, but this West Ham team is the best I've seen at this level.

You could always bank on West Ham, if you needed a result - Burnley had won four of the previous six meetings, and were unbeaten in three at Turf Moor.

However, under Moyes they are a different animal. He took the handbrake off against the Clarets - looking at their teamsheet pre-game, it was hard to tell how they would line up, given the number of attack-minded players.

And they were good value for their win. Burnley had success in the first half as they got the ball forward quickly, but Tomas Soucker helped put a stop to that. The Czech midfielder won more headers than the Burnley team put together on the night, and formed the base for their victory.

GO HARD OR GO HOME?

Clarets boss Sean Dyche often talks about wanting his side to 'go hard', but how to approach Monday's game at Fulham?

Burnley are nine points clear of the Cottagers, who look doomed to relegation with four games to play.

But, while Fulham have only won five of 34 games, and appear to require four wins from four for any hope of survival, victory for the West Londoners on Monday would make for a more nervy end to the season, given Leeds and Liverpool are then next up at Turf Moor, before the final game at relegated Sheffield United.

Statistics suggest there is a 1% chance of Burnley being relegated, 2% for Newcastle, and 96% for Fulham, but you suspect Dyche won't be happy until it is 0% in Burnley's case.

You wonder whether Burnley will be as expansive as they have of late at Fulham, preferring to try and be harder to beat and look to nick a goal, with a point likely to be sufficient.

Or should the Clarets look to kill off Fulham altogether and take the game to them?