The Warm Down: Stalemate in the "battle of the clarets" at Turf Moor
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Declan Rice of West Ham United beats Johann Berg Gudmundsson of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and West Ham United at Turf Moor on December 12, 2021 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)

It's certainly a game that wouldn't attract the neutrals and Burnley and West Ham play out a 0-0 draw at Turf Moor. 

Both sides has their chances but it was the visitors that had the better of proceedings on the day but both sides will be happy with an important point for their seasons. 

The result leaves West Ham one point above Manchester United in fourth whereas Burnley remain two points from safety in the relegation zone. 

  • Pope back to his best 

Nick Pope is certainly a man who has received his fair share of stick this year since his return from knee surgery. The injury put Pope out of England's run to the Euro 2020 Final and the former Charlton keeper hasn't been the same since. 

Pope was dropped from Gareth Southgate's England squad this season but todays performance has shown why he is regarded as one of England's best keepers. Having received a lot of stick for his mistake in the build up to Callum Wilson's winner against Newcastle last week, Pope silenced the critics showing why he is a class keeper. 

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He was a lot more commanding in situations where needed to be, especially coming to collect crosses and being a presence in the penalty area and barking orders to his back four who excelled again. 

He made a number of key saves most notably denying headers from both Issa Diop and Said Benrahma either side of half time to keep The Clarets in the game. 

Burnley's number one will be looking to keep up his momentum for the rest of the season and being a key figure to keep Burnley in the Premier League this season. 

  • The price is Rice 

When we talk about players who have stood above the rest in English football this year, Declan Rice is certainly a worthy candidate and rightly so. The 22 year old was a arguably man of the match in East Lancashire this afternoon and was dominant in midfield. 

The academy graduate dominated the midfield battle against Westwood and Cork and was impressive both going forward and defensively. One run he made saw him run from inside his own half through to the Burnley penalty area before he was thwarted by The Clarets backline. 

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It is certainly clear to see why Rice is so highly regarded by many and is one of the first names on the team sheet for both West Ham but also England as well. Rice is going to keep attracting interest elsewhere with Chelsea and Manchester United already been strongly linked in previous windows. 

David Moyes will look to keep his main man fit with key games against top four rivals but also the potential for a bumper Last 16 Europa League tie ahead of them in February. 

Many regarded him as the next prospect to come out of Burnley but Dwight McNeil has failed to live up to expectation this season. 

The England U21 International has been nowhere the quality he has shown in previous seasons since his debut in 2017 but what has happened to him? 

McNeil has only registered one Premier League assist this season to date for Maxwel Cornet's goal against Brentford but has failed to live up to the hype of previous seasons. 

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It may well be the case that many teams have managed to figure out McNeil's style of play trying to take on the defender and whip in a testing cross for the strikers to get on the end of. 

However, this season McNeil's final delivery has been very poor at times and has really failed to give his strikers any quality to get on the end of. Is it a case that his style has been figured out by opposition coaches or he is just in really poor form but what we know is this is not the Dwight McNeil we know.  

This leaves Sean Dyche a major dilemma because his squad is already slim in wide departments as he is using Maxwel Cornet as a centre forward and Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Aaron Lennon haven't been at the top of their games. 

Would Dyche play McNeil in behind the strikers in a number 10 role with his quality of pass and his ability to take on defenders but this has the ability to affect Dyche's 4-4-2 dynamic but could it be the way forward. 

One thing we do know is that Burnley chairman, Alan Pace, is going to have to invest in the squad in January in order to beat the drop with a new winger being high on the shopping list. 

 

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