Things we learned - Crystal Palace 0, Burnley 2

Things we learned about Burnley's first away win of the season

Sunday, 30th April 2017, 8:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:51 pm
Ashley Barnes scores the opening goal

Players have to be ready - and were

When Sean Dyche speaks of the importance of the squad, of players being injured, suspended or whatever, and that being an opportunity for others, he isn't paying lip service.

The intensity of training, their fitness levels and their understanding of their roles means players invariably slot in relatively seamlessly within the system.

It is up to them to then perform to the best of their ability.

Dyche made four changes at Selhurst Park, bringing in Sam Vokes and Scott Arfield for Andre Gray and Robbie Brady, while James Tarkowski and Ashley Westwood replaced Ben Mee and Joey Barton.

Vokes and Arfield are well-versed in the framework and requirements, but for Tarkowski, it was a first Premier League start, and Westwood made his first start since the draw at Hull just over two months ago.

Tarkowski deserves a great deal of credit for the way he coped with one of the biggest handfuls in the league, on his day, in Christian Benteke, shrugging off being hit by a lighter from a Palace fan after the first goal - as Dyche joked: "It wouldn't have hurt him, he's got a massive head!"

He and the immaculate Michael Keane were immense.

Westwood also stood out, stepping in for Barton is a big ask. While his form may have dipped a touch, Barton drags the team forward by the scruff of the neck with his desire and will to win.

Westwood moved the ball quickly and accurately, but more impressive was his energy and work rate.

At one stage in the first half he closed down a clearance from Ashley Barnes from Burnley's area, forcing Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey to clear, lifting another fabulous away support, and epitomising Burnley's performance.

Barnes and Vokes are not just blunt instruments

When many fans saw the team, with Andre Gray left out after being one of the better performers in the defeat against Manchester United, there was a sense that Burnley would be very direct, wondering if it was a lost opportunity to use the pace of Gray up against Damien Delaney and Martin Kelly.

But Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes dove-tailed superbly, and completely dominated Palace's makeshift centre back pairing.

In fact, Vokes and Barnes had the run on the duo, regularly beating them for pace.

Vokes often dropped off Barnes, combining well, notably for the first goal when Barnes won possession, Vokes spread the play, and Barnes got in the box to finish.

While they won virtually every aerial challenge, the pair held the ball up time after time under pressure, allowing their team to get up the pitch and alleviate any pressure, and were a big factor in the win.

Both could have scored, and 2-0 didn't flatter the Clarets.

Burnley finally get away day monkey off their back

Sean Dyche has been questioned about whether his players have a psychological issue away from home, whether they actually believed they could win away.

That was more than a tad insulting.

Yes, it has taken until their 18th away game of the season to finally break their duck, but no one can say it hasn't been coming.

Dyche has readily accepted performances, in the main, on the road, simply weren't good enough.

But from December onwards, we have seen a real improvement, narrow defeats at Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton in particular deserved more.

Decisions went against them as Moussa Sissoko avoided a red card and supplied the assist for Danny Rose's winner at White Hart Lane, Arsenal won with a penalty awarded in the eighth minute of injury time, given for a foul on the - again - offside Laurent Koscielny, while Liverpool were fortunate to level right on half-time and go on to win.

The turning point at Goodison Park was a twice-deflected goal from Ross Barkley.

The Clarets have stuck at it, and got their rewards at Palace with a consummate away performance, with Tom Heaton scarcely troubled.

It was only a fifth away win in the Premier League in 57 outings, but the most important and most impressive.