In the end this game was all about Robbie Keaneâ€™s excellent finishing. When he frustrated the crowd after ten minutes by missing a one on one with the Burnley â€˜Beastâ€™ thatâ€™s not something youâ€™d have expected â€“ Jensenâ€™s save with his feet left those around me in the North Stand in a near apoplectic frenzy at Harryâ€™s choice of Keane over Crouch. At times recently itâ€™s appeared as though Redknapp was the only one who has faith in the skipper but that faith was amply rewarded here. Jermain Defoe could have had a hat-trick, Robbie did get one, and was on his way to another by the time the final whistle blew.
Burnleyâ€™s good work in the first half at WHL last season was undone in the second forty five when their defence just fell apart. In this game they didnâ€™t bother waiting for half time, their centre half pairing was a shambles from the word go and there was space all over the midfield. Jenas, Kranjcar and Huddlestone were allowed time to pick their passes and often their biggest dilemma was trying to decide which of Keane, Defoe or Lennon to try and put clear.
Our opener was Keaneâ€™s first and it came from a stonewall penalty after Bikey flattened Defoe as he connected with Corlukaâ€™s pass. Our second was from a deflected Jenas shot following some excellent work from Keane when he won possession and swiftly put Kranjcar clear. The rest was the Robbie show as he finished smartly from a Lennon cut back and a Huddlestone ball over the top and then watched a near post effort trickle between Jensenâ€™s legs and over the line.
Defoe picked a good day to have an off-day. He wasted a number of clear chances, the last of which was especially painful as his left foot shot came back off the keeper and dislocated a finger. People in the front rows of the West Stand will have some nice pics of the physios working on him as he ended up grimacing and gurning just feet in front of them.
Burnley were strangely inept and after what we saw last season I expected more â€“ even the away end was only two thirds full, has Premier League fatigue set in already? We played well but not outstandingly, we didnâ€™t need to. Robbieâ€™s goal in the 73rd minute was only our second chance after half time, they came thick and fast after that though.
Kranjcarâ€™s debut was notable for some good movement and passing including one superb Hoddlesque crossfield ball to Lennon. A couple of things were clear though, the first being that heâ€™s not a natural left sided player and the second that for quite a big bloke, heâ€™s very lightweight. He lost just about every single fifty-fifty challenge and won nothing in the air.
Harry picked Huddlestone to play at the back with Bassong and Dawson was left out. Big Tomâ€™s defensive play at centre back is all about interceptions and sticking out a leg and hoping for the best, his positioning and heading arenâ€™t up to scratch. If he plays there against a better team heâ€™ll get found out, but he gets a bit of extra time when playing deeper and like an old fashioned sweeper,Â what he brings in terms of his passing and reading of what is going on in front of him means that in games like this, where weâ€™re going to get loads of possession, itâ€™s worth the risk of playing him at the back.
All in all, a good day out in the sunshine with the Park Lane in good form helping the mood along with the la-la version of the Scumpbell song and a tribute to Chas & Dave. Next week we head for the Reebok & one of our least happy hunting grounds but with goals flying in and confidence high, bring it on.
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