What a way to start the new year that was!
We all knew Burnley was a huge game, but to go and beat them in the manner that we did was something else.
I was concerned about the confidence after some heavy defeats, but I shouldn’t have worried watching them on Monday. Maybe the Liverpool game being postponed helped because it gave Marcelo two weeks with the players without a game and, of course, we avoided what could have been another bruising to add to the blows dealt by Chelsea, Man City, and Arsenal.
I thought it was very telling when the final whistle went against Burnley and Marcelo’s joy was there for all to see. He rarely shows any emotion, but he’s had a tough couple of weeks and it looked like a real release when he celebrated with his staff at the final whistle.
That result takes us eight points clear of Burnley now and while we’ve still got a long way to go, we’re in the best position we’ve been in all season in terms of having daylight between us and the bottom clubs, and hopefully we can start to look upwards now and over our shoulders.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think there is a lot of room for improvement, but the players deserve a lot of credit for the way they performed against Burnley. It was a bloody tough game, especially after what had come before, and although no one said it, it was 100% a must-win game for us.
The one downside came when Matt Lowton was hit by a bottle after Burnley’s goal. It’s not the first time this season things have been thrown on the pitch and, let’s be honest, it’s not acceptable. I understand passion and all that, and I also understand the frustration and anger at seeing opposing players celebrate a goal in front of you, but you can’t throw stuff. As a player, the pitch is my workplace, and you shouldn’t have to go to work worried about being hit by something thrown at you.
The January transfer window is now open, and it’s important we strengthen the squad and increase the numbers. A striker is a priority along with a central midfielder, and hopefully we’ll see some incomings on that front.
We’ve brought in Mateo Fernandez from Espanyol, but he’s one for the future and will go into the Under-23s. Hopefully he’ll be followed by a more senior striker who can come in and give us something else.