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The Media Review: Burnley

Nick Szczepanik takes a look at what the papers had to say after Saturday's 1-1 draw at Burnley.

By Nick Szczepanik • 07 February 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Lewis Dunk added a third goal to his tally for the season with an expertly take header against the Clarets.

Albion earned praise for the quality of their display in the 1-0 victory against Liverpool at Anfield. But the bouquets in the Sunday editions were for their grit and determination in the face of the usual Turf Moor experience.

Joe Bernstein of the Mail on Sunday was one of a number of writers who recognised the fact that Sean Dyche's team represented a completely different challenge to that posed by Jurgen Klopp's thoroughbreds.

“Brighton have beaten Leeds, Spurs and Liverpool in their current five-match unbeaten run but in its own way, surviving a harsh afternoon at Turf Moor was just as impressive,” he wrote.

“Graham Potter's side have spent a lot of the season earning a reputation as pretty players without necessarily having the ruthlessness to get over the line. But last week's win at Anfield earned them new respect and yesterday they coped with a horrible rainstorm in the first half and an aerial onslaught in the second.

02:15

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Dunk's Burnley reaction

“Hopes of a fifth clean sheet in a row were dashed when Johan Gudmundsson's first goal in 18 months cancelled out a first-half header from Lewis Dunk, but the Seagulls still dug in to ensure they left with something.

“The back three of Adam Webster, Dunk and Ben White put their bodies on the line to get in vital blocks – Webster eventually succumbing to an ankle injury - while impressive goalkeeper Robert Sanchez bravely saved at point-blank range from Matej Vydra and got knocked by Ashley Barnes' follow-through as he held onto the rebound. It was a proud Potter who saw his side continue their passage to safety after three tough games in six days.”

Arindam Rej made a similar point in the Sunday Telegraph. “The visitors arrived here having recorded successive 1-0 wins against heavyweights Liverpool and Tottenham as part of a run of four league games in a row without conceding, while Burnley had not had a shot on target in their previous two matches.

“Brighton's rocks at the back had not been cracked in 458 minutes, then Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who had not scored in 18 months, delivered a blow by equalising here. 

“The veteran Iceland midfielder's goal earned a well-deserved point for Sean Dyche's men that looked a tough ask after they trailed at the break through Brighton captain Lewis Dunk’s header.

By Paul Hazlewood
The skipper rose excellently to put Albion in front shortly before half-time.

“Potter was not too disheartened though, saying: 'Lesser teams would have gone under. We didn't, we got a point. It was a point when we were not at our best, today was a fight. It's been an excellent week, seven points from nine. It's an incredible effort from the players.'

“A major encouragement they can take is the way in which they showed they can be gritty in adverse circumstances. This might not have been the eye-catching outcomes of their previous two away games when they won at Elland Road and Anfield, but Turf Moor was a different challenge and they were bravely resolute at times, with the impressive goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and defender Dunk showing their value.

“Potter's men had the better of the first half though, enjoying more of the possession, although alert Sanchez twice saved them, pushing wide Dwight McNeil's free-kick then clawing out James Tarkowski's effort. Dunk soon struck however, jumping unmarked to head them into the lead, eight yards out, from Pascal Gross’ corner.

“Brighton went on to have the better of the second half’s early stages too, with Tarkowski making an important intervention to clear a Neal Maupay header, but then they lost their way.”

08:34

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Extended PL Highlights: Burnley 1 Albion 1

Albion's exploits in recent weeks have transformed opinions beyond the boundaries of Sussex, to judge by Jordan Davies of The Sun on Sunday describing them as “the high-flying Seagulls”.

He continued: “Sean Dyche's men have been criticised for their lack of attacking edge after failing to muster a single shot on target in their last two losses against Chelsea and Manchester City. And they were up against a Brighton side in fine form after seeing off Tottenham and Liverpool to boost their own survival bid.

“A first-half header from Lewis Dunk set the visitors on their way for a fourth win in five games but for Johann Berg Gudmundsson's leveller. History tells us this is not the fixture for lovers of attacking football – both games in the 2017-18 campaign ended goalless, as well as the reverse this season at the Amex.

And the opening exchanges looked set to break a Premier League record, becoming the first fixture to record two goalless games in two different campaigns.”

The Observer developed the theme: “Given the recent history of results between the teams, it was perhaps no surprise there was little separating them early on. Dwight McNeil's crafty free-kick nearly crept in at the near post, only for Sanchez to be alert to the danger. The Brighton goalkeeper then clawed away James Tarkowski's shot from the resulting corner and Burnley's inability to capitalise on their brief spell of pressure cost them as they fell behind, Dunk rising unchallenged to meet Pascal Gross' corner in the 36th minute as Gudmundsson seemed to slip.

“Burnley came into this game as the division's lowest scorers but they responded well to the goal, with Jack Cork curling an effort over before McNeil stung Sanchez's palms.

By Paul Hazlewood
Rob Sanchez was a busy man at Turf Moor.

“The driving rain stopped as the second half began and Gudmundsson made up for his earlier slip by clearing off the line from the same position after Dunk had once again headed towards goal from a corner.”

What did it all amount to? According to Ian Whittell in the Sunday Times, “this was that comparative rarity; a draw that probably suited both parties, not that Dyche, the Burnley manager, or his opposite number Graham Potter would admit as much.

“Potter had the consolation of seeing Brighton extend their unbeaten run to five matches, while a point for each side keeps their respective heads firmly above the Premier League's relegation waters. Unfortunately for Dyche, their usual solid defensive organisation was woefully lacking when Brighton took the lead on 37 minutes.

02:32

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Potter: A great week

“It was the simplest — and most un-Dyche-like — of goals for Burnley to concede as Pascal Gross' right-wing corner was guided to the head of Dunk and the unmarked defender headed powerfully past Nick Pope. The goal came at the end of a promising spell of possession for Burnley with a McNeil free kick and scrambled James Tarkowski effort forcing Sanchez into fine reflex saves.

“The Spanish goalkeeper was equally impressive in preserving his team's lead before the interval, blocking Matt Lowton's drive then denying McNeil once again with some impressive positioning to keep out the winger’s firm shot.”

So, a point, as well as praise for some often-overlooked qualities in the Albion squad – and rave reviews for Robert Sanchez. All in all, a good end to the week. And who would not have taken four points if offered from trips to Liverpool and Burnley?