Burnley made it six games unbeaten in the Premier League as they held a misfiring Newcastle side at St James’ Park.
The home side made the better of the chances but never truly looked like scoring as Nick Pope secured his 11th clean sheet of the season – that’s more than Alisson has managed in the league this season.
The result means that Burnley leapfrog Arsenal into ninth and are just three points off Manchester United in fifth as they eye up a second European qualification in three seasons. Newcastle remain 14th but the fact that both Norwich and Bournemouth won in gameweek 28 means that they will start to be glancing nervously over their shoulder.
Burnley’s purple patch goes on
The Clarets seem to be something of a confidence side. They tend to go on runs of wins followed by runs of losses. At the turn of the year, they appeared to be in a bit of trouble: they were flirting with a relegation fight and were struggling to find any real form.
They’ve always been built on a solid defence but they only managed two clean sheets in ten games between the end of November and the middle of January. It was the win at home to Leicester which they may look back on as a turning point – since then, they haven’t lost and have kept four clean sheets. Only Liverpool are currently on a longer unbeaten run in the Premier League.
Granted, they were second best today against a Newcastle side which are in desperate need of some points as we begin to approach the business end of the season. But, for a side like Burnley, a point away at Newcastle is certainly satisfactory. It was a fantastic defensive effort from Dyche’s men: Charlie Taylor, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee were particularly impressive in a resolute rearguard action.
It was two years ago that Burnley shocked the Premier League by sneaking into the Europa League spots. If they carry on like this, we could be about to see it all over again.
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Groundhog Day for the Magpies
Newcastle were dreadful at Selhurst Park last week, failing to test Vicente Guaita in the Palace net at all and being very fortunate to only concede one against the only other team as sterile as them in front of goal.
Today was different – they managed 21 shots in total – but they still cannot find the net. Of those 21, only four were on target and none forced Nick Pope to truly exert himself in goal. It’s now been four games since Newcastle last scored a Premier League goal.
On paper, they have some decent options going forward: Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin (who, to everyone’s bemusement, was dropped today), Miguel Almiron and Dwight Gayle aren’t exactly going to set the world on fire but you would expect them to have managed more than four goals between them in the Premier League this season. At times they look like they’re stepping onto a pitch together for the first time – the presence of top scorer Jonjo Shelvey undoubtedly makes Steve Bruce’s side far more potent but it was still to no avail today.
A lack of goals has been a problem all season and was something they failed to address in January when, in reality, it was a necessity. They’ve shown enough this season to know they can keep themselves afloat, but they need to be winning games like today if they want to be sure of Premier League football next season.