Burnley 1, Everton 0 - Chris Boden’s match verdict

Jeff Hendrick volleys the winner against Everton
Jeff Hendrick volleys the winner against Everton

Going fourth in the Premier League lasted 24 hours in December 2017.

And it was only for a couple of hours on Saturday night.

But while Sean Dyche isn’t interested in the league table until the final whistle blows on the season, Burnley fans also don’t need to see their side in the Champions League places to know that they are back at the heights they were at two years ago.

It took the Clarets until match day 10 to reach seventh in 2017/18, and they would drop no lower for the remainder of the campaign as they earned European football for the first time in 51 years.

Saturday was match day eight, and after Burnley again came out on the right side of the tight margins to beat Everton, fans are dreaming that the impossible is possible again.

There is an awful long way to go before we can be begin to debate the pros and cons of continental football again.

So let us just savour the fact that the first half of last season was just a blip.

Injuries, an early start to pre-season, and factoring in the extraordinary in terms of the demands of the Europa League qualifiers, saw the Clarets struggle to hit the 12-point mark by the halfway stage.

That coincided with a 5-1 defeat at home to Everton on Boxing Day that, while the score line didn’t tell the full story, was a nadir.

The side took 28 points over the second half of the campaign, to stay up with three games to spare.

And the win over the Toffees means they have 12 points by the start of October this term, and have picked up 40 in their last 27 Premier League outings.

It isn’t just the statistics that tell you Burnley are back though, it is the familiarity of the personnel, their shape and traits.

They are back to being hard to beat, hard to break down, and are always capable of scoring - indeed, only Liverpool have shut them out so far.

More often than not, since being paired together, either Chris Wood or Ashley Barnes usually find the net.

But when they don’t, someone else has chipped in with a key intervention.

On Saturday, it was again Jeff Hendrick, who is enjoying one of his best spells at the club, having performed well over the second half of last season.

This term, he is adding to that performance level with goals - and, again, it was another cracker to add to his collection.

At the other end, a defence bearing a very familiar feel collected a second clean sheet in three games, and third of the season.

And while Erik Pieters succumbed to injury in the second half, the result of a clumsy, if not malicious challenge from Seamus Coleman which earned a yellow card, Charlie Taylor slotted back in as if he hadn’t been out of the side.

Dyche admitted after that “if that (technical) side of our game isn’t as pure as it could be - which it often isn’t, it’s still a work in progress - all the things that factor in winning a match, we do well.

“The shape, the energy, the relentless nature of trying to win a game, they’re all intact.”

His midfield exemplify that. They were steady, without being spectacular against Everton.

But they do the basics well, they are disciplined, and can always deliver a moment of quality.

Thee was little between the sides until Coleman made another untidy challenge on Dwight McNeil, and was sent off.

He could have walked for the first, in truth - though it was no worse than Che Adams’ on the opening day, which was reviewed by VAR and didn’t even earn a booking.

A player of his experience should know better than to jump into McNeil on a yellow card, and that moment changed the game.

Marco Silva had said before the game: "Specific type of game. Really physical team.. it’ll be tough. It’s tough for everyone to play there.

"They always want to challenge.”

Whether Everton overcompensated for that physicality or not, they paid the price.

It became a case of whether Burnley could take advantage, and while they are not the type of side who can often push home a numerical advantage, in terms of making the ball do the work, they gradually took control of the game, and found a way to get their noses in front.

A deadly set piece did the job, Ashley Westwood collecting another assist with a superb delivery, emphatically volleyed in at the back post by Hendrick - in identical fashion to a chance carved out in the first half, which saw the midfielder denied on that occasion.

While Silva had spoken of Burnley’s physicality, he also said: "You have to show quality to create problems for them."

And Everton, with a wealth of resources and top class footballers at their disposal, simply did not show enough quality - and what they did show was comfortably snuffed out by the likes of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, who are back at the peak of their powers.

Since Burnley returned to the Premier League in 2016, Everton have spent £195.5 million on transfers, making them the fourth highest spenders.

Saturday’s defeat left them 17th in the table. They didn’t come calling for Sean Dyche two years ago when Ronald Koeman left, and - while no one associated with Burnley will want to countenance it - you wonder whether they will make that mistake again should they dispense with Silva.