Burnley 2-1 Everton - Post-match analysis: Hosts snatch win in resolute display

Burnley 2-1 Everton - Post-match analysis: Hosts snatch win in resolute display

Scott Arfield's late strike secured a remarkable victory for the Clarets, who weathered the visitors' storm and took their chances when they came.

Jordan Eyre

As the full-time whistle blew at Turf Moor on Saturday, there was the collective feeling among 20,000 Burnley supporters that an equilibrium had been restored.

Clarets boss Sean Dyche has recounted incidents over the course of the season which have gone against his team: a wrong offside call here, a dubious decision there.

So when Scott Arfield steered home Burnley’s winner against Everton, those incidents paled into insignificance in the ensuing celebrations.

Many may question whether the win was entirely deserved, but few can have any qualms about the spirit and doggedness of a typically hard-fought win for Dyche’s side.

Possession isn’t everything

Last season, Burnley surged to the Championship title while averaging only 48.2% possession per game – the 18th highest total in the division.

Dyche clearly baulked at such a high figure, because in the Premier League, the Clarets have averaged just 38.3%, a league low.

It is a statistic that is surely more by accident than design, but Dyche’s expectancy on seeing less of the ball means he can work at fine-tuning Burnley’s play when out of possession, and how effective they can be when in it.

Sean Dyche values quality over quantity in possession (Photo: Getty Images)

Everton had 66% of the ball at Turf Moor, but they failed to convert their dominance into goals, while Burnley capitalised at the other end to snatch all three points.

It also helps when, while in possession, you are able to shift the ball quickly. Dyche has often spoke about being quick in the transition from defence to attack, and Sam Vokes’ goal was a fitting example. A slick, flowing move from back to front preceded the Welshman’s finish, with Burnley making progress up the field in a matter of seconds.

No Defour, no problem

Many Burnley fans winced when they saw midfielder Steven Defour hobble off against Southampton earlier this month, a hamstring injury the cause for his withdrawal.

While Australian youngster Aiden O’Neill was chosen to replace the midfielder on that occasion, Arfield was given the nod from the start against Everton, and fitted seamlessly into Burnley’s midfield.

The Canadian international finished the game with a commendable 80% pass completion rate, including a respectable five out of eight in attacking positions.

Scott Arfield put in an all-action performance (Photo: Getty Images)

Arfield also completed one take-on – the elegant side-step past Ashley Williams in the build-up to Vokes’ goal – and also did his due diligence defensively: three out of three clearances completed, headed or otherwise, three interceptions and one block made.

Burnley’s match-winner also took his goal superbly, crashing home a rebound with his weaker foot, on the half-volley, into the far corner. Somewhere, Defour smiled on, approvingly.

Where does Andre Gray fit in?

It is easy to forget that Burnley have chalked up two wins from four games without their talismanic striker. Andre Gray has been more inconspicuous by his absence, with Dyche stumbling upon his current 4-2-3-1 system without the services of his star man.

Saturday’s game was the final of four for which Gray has been suspended, but now, available for selection, one of the big questions facing the Burnley boss is where – or even if – the former Brentford man fits into his new formation.

Gray certainly has the mobility and strength to play in one of the wide areas, but Dyche clearly sees him as an out-and-out striker – Gray led the line when Burnley were beaten by Leicester City last month - and Vokes has been impressive in that role of late.

The obvious choice is to revert to the formation that Burnley used so well in the Championship last season, Dyche’s trusted 4-4-2, but it means that one of Steven Defour, Jeff Hendrick or Dean Marney would be dropped, and all three have contributed to the cause in various guises recently.

Whatever Dyche chooses, it will be a decision that requires careful consideration.