The Clarets put in a season-defining performance in a 3-1 win, writes Jamie Smith.
That’s about all I could come up with at half-time today.
I’ve been racking my brains to try and remember seeing us play better than that first half, and I’ve come up with nothing.
Sean Dyche’s Burnley were truly outstanding, blowing away Nottingham Forest in 45 minutes none of the home fans present will ever forget. Dyche called the display “exceptional” and he wasn’t exaggerating. Burnley were absolutely magnificent.
It was same team again for the sixth match running for Dyche, while visiting manager Billy Davies started with Algerian international Rafik Djebbour up front rather than Simon Cox, with Jamie Paterson – who’s scored nine goals in 2014 – given freedom to roam behind him. Andy Reid and Henri Lansbury were absent.
Ex-Claret Danny Fox was at left-back and had a shocker, but he was far from the only Forest player to put in an awful performance, with Guy Moussi particularly bad in midfield as well.
But let’s take nothing away from a glorious performance by Dyche’s Burnley, who look nailed on for promotion if they keep up this form.
Burnley were miles away from last weekend’s flatness at Bournemouth, where we were perhaps fortunate to escape with a draw, and Forest were hugely flattered by 3-1 this afternoon. It could and should have been much more embarrassing for the visitors.
As it was, their unbeaten run, which stretched back to November, was razed to the ground as Burnley lit up Turf Moor from the opening whistle.
The Clarets swarmed all over their fancied opponents and Karl Darlow’s goal quickly resembled a firing range as Burnley shot on sight. Scott Arfield was quickly in the thick of the action as an effort was scrambled away just a yard or two from the line.
Burnley had hit two or three warning shots when the opening goal arrived. Arfield bundled his way into the box again through a nothing challenge from Fox and needed no second invitation to pull the trigger. His shot was hard and low and Darlow couldn’t keep it out.
Dyche has been dubbed Ginger Mourinho by the Clarets faithful but there was none of the Chelsea manager’s favourite trick of scoring then shutting up shop as Burnley cranked through the gears.
The Clarets just kept coming and coming and a second duly arrived as Kieran Trippier extended his lead as the Championship’s leading assist maker. It looked like there was nothing on, but half a trick bought him room from Fox to fire in a cross and Sam Vokes – once again imperious leading the line – headed home unmarked.
2-0 with only 25 minutes gone left a loud Turf Moor rocking, but the Clarets weren’t even done there and a third goal soon killed off the match as a contest.
Forest were unlucky – though they were fortunate to escape with just a two-goal defeat overall – as a defender’s attempted block from a Vokes shot looped over Darlow and in. Vokes now has 18 for the season.
You’d think three would be enough for Burnley but amazingly, they kept on attacking Forest. If it had been a boxing match, the referee would certainly have stopped it.
Michael Duff had a header ruled out for offside and the Clarets created a handful of further openings, but it was 3-0 at the break.
The Longsider Ole-d for the last ten minutes as Burnley turned on the style. Even at 3-0, Duff was rampaging down the right wing. It was surreal.
“Davies, sort it out” chanted the large Forest following, but the former Preston manager had no magic wand and was powerless to stop the relentless, rampant Clarets.
Forest improved after the break, but Burnley weathered the early storm. Tom Heaton, who could have got through Ulysses in the first half, so far from his goal was all the action, miraculously turned a header on to the bar and Trippier then cleared another header off the line.
With that save from Trippier the stuffing was knocked out of Forest and they simply gave up, which was understandable given the hammering they had taken in the first half. Burnley had chances to extend the lead as Danny Ings’ radar faltered, substitute Keith Treacy picked out Darlow from range and Duff put one just wide, but three was always going to be enough.
It wouldn’t be Burnley without a late scare though and it came from the spot when sub Cox went down after a challenge from Duff. It looked a harsh award as Cox was certainly looking for the penalty, flailing his arms as he threw himself down. Heaton saved the spot kick from Djamel Abdoun but could only direct it straight back to the forward, who nodded in.
But Forest couldn’t muster another and the Clarets marched on comfortably and closed the match out with ease.
Even with over a dozen matches still to play after next weekend, Burnley v Derby is starting to look like a winner-takes-it-all type occasion.
And if Burnley perform to the heights of today again next weekend, the Rams will also be blown away.
Have you ever seen Burnley play that well before? Comment below.