Football Features

Burnley 2-1 Leicester: Vardy’s ‘mini-drought’ proves costly as Dyche secures first points of 2020

By Ollie Thomas

Published: 16:12, 19 January 2020

Burnley ended their run of four consecutive defeats with a hard-fought victory against Leicester City.

The Clarets fell behind after an excellent run and finish from the lively Harvey Barnes before Sean Dyche’s side mounted a brave comeback in the second half.

Goals from Chris Wood and Ashley Westwood saw Burnley pick up a valuable victory, putting them five points clear of the drop. Leicester, on the other hand, need a pick-me-up if they’re to continue their European push.

Here are the winners and losers from Sunday’s clash:

Winner: Harvey Barnes

After a lively start to the season, Barnes has struggled. He hadn’t scored in the league since the end of August and had just one goal contribution in 12 games before today – he was even left out of the home defeat to Southampton last week.

However, his goal today showed that his confidence has not been affected by his barren run. He’s only young – just 22 years of age – and will have runs such as this throughout his career: the true test will be how he bounces back from them. The speed at which he ran at Ben Mee visibly bothered the defender, as he eased around the centre-half and powered past Nick Pope. The winger repeated the trick in the second half, forcing Mee to drag him to the floor and concede a penalty in the second half.

Barnes has shown flashes of brilliance in a Leicester shirt, posing a threat even when he doesn’t contribute to goals. If he can start to produce the numbers he’s capable of, Leicester could have another gem on their hands.

Burnley - Leicester

Winner: Chris Wood

There are very few things more satisfying for a striker than to score against his former club. Wood has now done it twice in the same season.

His goalscoring exploits have somewhat flown under the radar during the 2019/20 campaign: he has now scored nine goals, the same as Gabriel Jesus and more than Anthony Martial. Remarkably, this was the first goal he’s scored with his right foot since February of last year – he’s scored nine headers and three with his left foot since.

Burnley may be struggling defensively of late, but having a reliable goalscorer always helps in the fight for survival. Woods’ goals have won his side six points this season – all of which could prove very valuable come May.

Loser: Jamie Vardy

Talking of droughts, Vardy’s (albeit minor) struggles go on.

On paper, this game was perfect for the league’s top scorer: Burnley had shipped 19 goals in 10 games before today. After Barnes was hauled down in the area, it appeared that the 33-year-old would make sure he didn’t go three games without scoring for the first time this season. However, his tame penalty was saved and, to add insult to injury, Burnley went up the other end to score the winner 12 minutes later.

Of course, Vardy has been sensational this season and is a significant reason as to why Leicester currently sit third in the Premier League. However, his recent form is a cause for concern for the Foxes, who have very little back-up for their main man.

Loser: Ben Mee

It wasn’t all positive for Burnley.

Despite captaining his side to a memorable victory against high-flying Leicester, Mee had a torrid afternoon, largely thanks to Barnes.

The centre-back was caught square and beaten far too easily for the winger’s goal in the first-half and resorted to hauling him down in the second half on the way to conceding a penalty – fortunately for Mee, Pope bailed him out. It doesn’t stop there: no tackles, just two clearances and a solitary interception reflect what was a difficult Sunday for Mee.

He can go home with a smile on his face with three points in the bag, but he was slightly fortunate to be on the winning side.

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Winner: Nick Pope

Burnley have been blessed in recent years when it comes to goalkeepers – at one point, Pope was the third choice behind Tom Heaton and Joe Hart. However, the departure of the former to Aston Villa has seen Pope take the No.1 shirt this season and go from strength to strength.

His penalty save from Vardy – his second in the Premier League – came at a crucial time in the game and provided the perfect platform for Ashley Westwood to score the winner at the other end. It was not the only contribution he made: he made a further six saves throughout the 90 minutes to help secure a valuable win for his side.

Burnley hadn’t won a point since mid-December before today, and Pope’s contribution is a big reason that run is now over.

Loser: Brendan Rodgers

Everything seemed nearly too good to be true for Leicester up until December. The Foxes were the only team who appeared capable of catching an outstanding Liverpool side and genuinely looked like breaking the ‘Big Six’ stranglehold on the league.

However, the festive period was damaging. Four defeats in their last six means Rodgers and Co. are looking nervously over their shoulders as they bid to qualify for the Champions League for just the second time in their history.

How Rodgers reacts to this dip in form will be a test of his management: his spell at Celtic and the start of his Leicester career were both almost perfect, but an injury to Wilfried Ndidi and Vardy’s mini drought has given the Northern Irishman a difficult conundrum to fix.

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