Burnley invite Norwich to walk right into their trap - Chris Boden’s match verdict

Chris Wood scores his and Burnleys second goal
Chris Wood scores his and Burnleys second goal

Norwich can’t say they weren’t warned.

The Canaries have won admirers on their way to the Championship title, and even more after deservedly seeing off Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City last week at Carrow Road.

They have played with a freedom and that odd word in football - bravery - but walked straight into a Claret and Blue trap at Turf Moor.

Sean Dyche and his players love teams who try and play out from the back, and take risks.

In an often snobbish football media, sides are admired for - that word again - bravery, in being prepared to play out under pressure, while more pragmatic sides such as Burnley are often dismissed for their more functional play. Indeed, it has become a badge of honour for Clarets fans, who often sarcastically chant “anti-football”, after David Luiz’s barbed comment last season.

But Norwich were somewhat naive on Saturday, as time and again they played their way into trouble, as Burnley’s high press choked their gameplan at source.

This summer, a new rule was brought in that means goalkicks now don’t have to leave the area, and Dyche is particularly pleased to see sides stubbornly continue to try and pass through the press from deeper than usual.

He said on Thursday: Modern football, they tell me. You know when you’re about 12, and everybody goes ‘stop, stop stop! no, no, no!’, ‘you don’t pass the ball six yards to that man there, because he’s in trouble’.

“The right way, I believe they call it now, modern football.

“I always like the bit where you take a risk at their end, on their six-yard line, and they take a risk, I really enjoy that...

“I’ve been really enjoying all this risk-taking, I hope they keep taking risks.

“I’m not knocking it, you believe in what you believe in, I’m just saying I enjoy it when they do it, that would be brilliant, thank you.

“It’s up to them, I’m not there to judge, but if people are trying to put 15 passes around their six-yard line, in front of their keeper, I would suggest that probably won’t work out every week.

“It might some weeks, probably not on a consistent basis, but that’s for everyone else to decide.”

Well, it certainly didn’t work out on Saturday.

Norwich boss Daniel Farke was well aware of the threat, as he noted: “I am sure Burnley will try to press us but we will have spells when we can bypass the press and control the game. We have to be prepared for the moment if we lose the ball to control their counters."

The problem for Farke is, Burnley didn’t allow them to bypass the press, and they were ruthless and clinical with their moments, as they enjoyed a win more convincing than the score suggests.

As Farke said after the game: “We invited them to press us and we were just reacting. We are not that good.”

So is it bravery to ape the style of a Manchester City or Barcelona, without players of the quality of Manchester City or Barcelona?

The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions again and again and expecting different results.

Norwich simply played into Burnley’s hands, time and again.

But you have to be able to take advantage, and Burnley were dominant throughout, in an impressive all-round team performance.

The Clarets flew out of the blocks, rattling into a two-goal lead inside 14 minutes to effectively kill the game.

When Burnley start with the intent and tempo they did on Saturday, they can often win matches quickly, as they have shown over the last three years, against good opposition as well, with home games against Liverpool and Bournemouth in 2016, and Leicester in 2018 springing to mind.

Dyche used the word “smothered” after the game, and it was as apt as any.

Norwich were not allowed to play through an aggressive press, as Burnley forced mistake after mistake.

But you have to be able to profit in those situations, and after taking the lead 10 minutes in, Chris Wood gleefully heading in a glorious Ashley Westwood corner, they doubled their advantage just four minutes later.

Jack Cork capitalised on a loose pass from the hapless Ibrahim Amadou, found Dwight McNeil, and from his low cross, Ben Godfrey looked favourite, but Wood’s excellent movement saw him nip in at the near post to lash in a second.

For Wood, it was vindication, having failed to score in the first five Premier League games, after netting nine in pre-season.

There had been some sections of the support who would have replaced him, but, while struggling to find the net, his form had largely been good, helping create space for strike partner Ashley Barnes with some selfless work.

He deserved his goals, and it is game on for a third season of the pair battling it out for the club’s golden boot.

Both could have added to their tally in the remaining 76 minutes, and while the killer third goal never came to make life easier, with Nick Pope a virtual spectator throughout - bar a stop from Teemu Pukki with the game goalless - the result was not in doubt, as the Clarets climbed to seventh, as Dyche celebrated his 313th game at the helm, moving above Stan Ternent into fourth place in the club’s all-time list.