Analysis: James Tarkowski picks up where he left off with another stellar display

Analysis: James Tarkowski picks up where he left off with another stellar display

The central defender will be looking to make himself a permanent fixture in the England squad this season.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

Impressing in your breakthrough season at the highest level is one thing but maintaining that form in you second campaign separates the good from the excellent players - Burnley's James Tarkowski looks set to do just that after an impenetrable display in the 0-0 draw against Southampton.

Three shots on target from 18 attempts

Tarkowski and central defensive partner James Mee were both regular features in the top echelons of the individual defensive statistics table last season. The pair both concluded the campaign in the top ten for clearances and top five for blocks - Tarkowski almost ended up on the plane to Russia in his breakthrough Premier League season on the back of those statistics.

However, the joint club record signing of Ben Gibson during the summer may have put Tarkowski's place in the starting eleven under pressure this season. If it did, the 25-year old responded in the best way possible by proving to be just as solid at the back as he was last year.

Southampton manufactured 18 shots, more than all but Watford on the opening weekend of the season. Yet Joe Hart, who has now contributed consecutive clean sheets since joining the Clarets, only had to make three saves. The reason? Mee and Tarkowski made four blocks apiece from almost half of Southampton's attempts and more than any other player in the league apart from Christopher Schindler. Neither player was dribbled past during the entire 90 minutes,

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Creativity but no end product

There was no doubting that the hosts threatened later in the game when they introduced Danny Ings and Mohamed Elyounoussi with 34 minutes remaining. The duo contributed eight key passes between them with only Alexis Sanchez and Christian Eriksen producing more in the opening round of fixtures.

Yet Tarkwoski's ability to recognise danger, react to the second ball and dispose of a threat is world class. 15 clearances again topped the league charts and ensured that Burnley enjoyed an unbeaten start to the campaign.

It could have been more for the Clarets who created good opportunities through Aaron Lennon and Jeff Hendrick. Yet they were also thwarted by an inspired defensive unit with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy starring between the sticks and debutant Jannik Vestergaard impressing in defence with 12 clearances (second in the league) and two blocks, ensuring Southampton did 'a Burnley to Burnley'. Similar to their hosts, the visitors fired 16 shots at goal but hit the target with less than 50% of those strikes.

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