Former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray cited Nick Pope’s penalty save in Burnley’s 2-1 win over Leicester in January as the moment which transformed their season.
The Clarets trailed 0-1 to the Foxes, who were then just three points off second-placed Manchester City, in that game at Turf Moor before turning it around and, with the scores level at 1-1 that day, Pope denied Jamie Vardy from the spot in what proved to be a pivotal moment. [via BBC]
Speaking on punditry duty for Sky Sports [via Lancashire Live], Murray believes that particular moment changed the entire trajectory of the 2019/20 campaign for Sean Dyche’s team, who are now guaranteed a top-half finish.
He said: “I always think it was that Leicester game, Nick Pope saved a penalty against Jamie Vardy and they just kicked on. They’ve been keeping clean sheets, whoever comes into the team is ready, so again it shows good management.
“There’s a clear profile of the players that they put into the team that fit the system, fit the attitude, the work rate and everything about the culture of that club, so I think it’s been a top, top season.”
When looking at Burnley’s fortunes before and after that January clash against the Foxes, it’s no wonder that Murray has picked out Pope’s penalty save as the turning point in the Clarets’ season.
Dyche’s team went into that match off the back of four successive defeats, and seven losses in nine league games, in 15th place in the table, with only five points to spare over the relegation zone. Defeat that day would have left them in a precarious position.
Was the win over Leicester the most important of Burnley's season?
Instead, victory over Leicester began a 15-match sequence in which Burnley’s only Premier League defeat came away to Manchester City. In that time, runaway champions Liverpool have lost three league matches, with City themselves losing four. The Clarets also ended the season as the only team to prevent Jurgen Klopp’s side from having a 100% league record at Anfield.
It was also the first of four wins in a five-match run which also included a famous victory at Old Trafford three days later, eventually propelling them to their current position of ninth, one point and one place ahead of FA Cup finalists Arsenal.
Burnley’s drastic change of fortunes since that win over the Foxes six months ago has indeed proven to be a seminal moment in what has ultimately been a very satisfying season at Turf Moor.
Burnley fans, do you agree with Murray about the win over Leicester being a turning point? Comment below with your views!
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