The scoreline didn’t reflect it, but Burnley played quite well yesterday and were very competitive for long periods of this game. Unfortunately - and was the fear before this season started - they just didn’t quite have the ability to take advantage of those periods of momentum.
Everton were much improved. A blunt, listless performance in Lille on Thursday night was followed by something far more ruthless at Turf Moor - and, at last, Roberto Martinez’s side produced a display that hinted at a return to last season’s form.
Here are the stats and notes:
- Antolin Alcaraz had 99 touches of the ball, more than any other player.
(Burnley aren’t a ruthless attacking force, but Everton did defend better yesterday than they have in recent weeks and, had it not been for Romelu Lukaku’s sloppy giveaway, they would never have lost their early lead.)
- Lukas Jutkiewicz and Samuel Eto’o each had 5 shots, a game-high.
- Eto’o was the only player to hit the target more than once (4).
(What a smart pick-up Eto’o was in the Summer. His goals are a given - and the two finishes he produced yesterday were both, in their own way, delightful - but his link-play is really underrated and his use of the ball and general intelligence in the attacking-third is extremely valuable.)
- Gareth Barry completed 93.6% of his passes, the most in the game.
(Barry is currently a great testament to the value of experience. He’s not the most technically gifted footballer, but his understanding of the game around him has made him useful long into his thirties. At grounds like Turf Moor, where home fans and motivated players can get on top of so-called bigger sides and ruffle them, his merits become exponentially more visible. Simple, accurate distribution combined with reliable positioning. Basic principles, but very effective.)
- James McCarthy, Stephen Ward and Lukas Jutkiewicz each won a game-high 5 aerial-duels.
- George Boyd attempted 7 tackles, more than any other player.
(It’s not really fair to critique Burnley, because their budgetary restraints put them at such a disadvantage. Based on watching four of their games - apologies if the other five have contradicted this - they are a well-coached team of players who aren’t quite good enough for this level. The shape of the team is good and the football is well-designed, but that is not enough to survive. That’s not an attempt to be unkind or patronising, it’s just the reality. There’s a lot to like about them and their progression over the past year is hugely admirable, but these are qualities which don’t really have a value in the Premier League.)
- Antolin Alcaraz made 5 interceptions, more than any other player.
- Alcaraz also led the game with 12 defensive-clearances.
(For a player who is really a bit-part - and whose name does cause a surge of anxiety whenever it appears on the teamsheet - Antolin Alcaraz gave a very secure performance. Given the issues which currently exist in the Everton defence and the concerns surrounding the previously very reliable Jagielka/Distin axis, it was interesting to see yesterday’s improvement.)
- Kieran Trippier attempted more crosses than any other player (12), but was accurate with just one.
(A neat measure of the differences between the Championship and the Premier League is the comparison between Kieran Trippier’s assist totals this year and last.)
- Michael Duff completed 8 long-passes, more than any other player.
- Leighton Baines completed 4 successful dribbles, the most in the game.
- Danny Ings was dispossessed over twice as many times as any other player (7).
Latest for Squawka: Why Saido Berahino shouldn’t be rushed into the England squad.