Sean Dyche landed at Selhurst Park with three goalkeepers and by the time he left, it was a point of debate as to whether he needed it.
Not because it was a walk – Crystal Palace is better than that. But it was deeply impressive in the sense that Burnley showed up on the ground who had seen four home wins in seven, withstood a pretty horrible 15-minute pressure close, then left without facing a shot of substance.
Aside from Patrick Van Aanholt and Gary Cahill’s downtime frenzy attempts, only the former having brought some degree of difficulty, Nick Pope had a pleasant and quiet evening.
Ben Mee’s header in the second half helped Burnley win 1-0 against Crystal Palace on Monday.
Guaita tipped Mee’s head on the post and into his own net to bring victory to visitors
Jordan Ayew was lucky to stay on the field after seeing Josh Brownhill with a lost elbow
And so Palace was ripe for the take, which Burnley forced. Ben Mee did the trick, leading the winner in the second half of a fairly tedious game. Coming in his 300th game, and with a wider performance of great robustness at the rear, he showed the immense value of Mee on this side. But beyond that, the victory came covered by Dyche’s fingerprints.
First of all for engineering a team when their team was exhausted to the point that they could only fill seven of the nine replacement places for the seventh time in nine. And on the other hand for the commitment of the players who know that there is a fight to keep a manager whose employers have made him frustrated. They are fighting for Dyche; it seems clearly obvious that the hierarchy should do the same for a man who brought them to eighth rank, with only one defeat in 10. He surely deserves a chance to see what he could do if they widened the narrow limits of their ambition.
Palace 0-1 Burnley
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Guiata; Van Aanholt, Cahill, Dann, Ward; Townsend (Meyer 77), Milivojevic, McArthur, Kouyate (McCarthy 45), Zaha, Ayew
Unused subs: Hennessy, Sakho, Woods, Tavares, Mitchell, Pierrick, Riedewald
Burnley (4-4-1-1): pope; Taylor, Tarkowski, Mee, Bardsley; Pieters, Cork (Long 70), Westwood, Brownhill, McNeill, Vydra
Unused subs: Peacock-Farrell, Thompson, Dunne, Thomas, Jensen, Goodridge
Referee: Simon Hooper
To say that, even in this match, he faced setbacks before kick-off.
Jay Rodriguez, who scored the winner and injured his ankle against Watford, failed a late fitness assessment and left Dyche with a hole in his attack. Dwight McNeil came from the left to fill the gap behind Matej Vydra in a modified system and the reminders from Erik Pieters and Phil Bardsley in place of Rodriguez and Matthew Lowton left these two seats empty on the bench. With two goalkeepers among his replacements, it’s much easier to see Dyche’s point than any of the club’s counter arguments.
Hodgson was luckier with his pre-game problems. He had doubts about each of Vicente Guaita, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke and of these alone Benteke did not pass. Not that it was a start for Palace. Aside from a Luka Milivojevic free kick that went high over the bar, they were on the low side of possession and chances for the majority of the first half.
The best Burnley songs have all gone through McNeil. He missed a first chance at throwing high, but in a restarted season that has seen a lack of energy through the cartels, he is an endearing and enduring source of sparkle.
It was one of those matches where his desire to face the closest man was most relentless and he consistently succeeded in it. A 40-meter run and shot, starting with a detour to beat Milivojevic, was the highlight of the first half. As a target for Manchester United, he represents a fair response to those lazy and persistent suggestions that Dyche only has eyes for the strong and the hardy.
Dwight McNeil impressed by multiple driving routes from # 10 role in Selhurst Park
Nick Pope was one of three goalkeepers on the Burnley team but was rarely called upon
Ayew lost Palace’s best chance in the second half on its way to the center of Zaha
Hodgson’s attempt to gain more control over the midfield saw James McCarthy provoked at the break for Cheikhou Kouyate, and for a while this seemed effective, although helped by a significant reprieve for Jordan Ayew, who seemed to catch Josh Brownhill in the face with his forearm. The incident was reported to VAR and Ayew was cleared. Fortunate? It looked like that.
Gary Cahill had the opportunity to build on this decision when he was played by Ayew in the scrum after a free kick, but 15 yards from goal he set foot on Nick Pope. With Palace’s growing pressure, James Tarkowski trod Ayew on the edge of the Burnley area and Milivojevic missed a second free kick from a promising position.
That’s when the game turned. A moment later, McNeill was fouled by McCarthy and Ashley Westwood dropped a delivery on the way to Mee. The diving head was well executed but Guaita should have done better.
Dyche looked rather delighted.
Delighted Sean Dyche sees his team climb to eighth place in the Premier League