While nothing separated Burnley and West Ham at Turf Moor, the gulf between Champions League and Championship could divide them next season. If that suggested a draw was a better result for Burnley, perhaps neither should have much cause for celebration.
Burnley have a solitary win in 15 league games and a day when they mustered one, forgettable, attempt on target rarely threatened to bring a second. They are nearing a point where victories are needed. West Ham’s rise is such that draws at Turf Moor now feel unsatisfactory. As they claimed a 70th point of the calendar year, they could regret their inability to claim the extra two.
In defeating Liverpool and Chelsea in thrilling fashion, West Ham have beaten two of the best but top-four finishes still rely on a capacity to defeat the rest. “Last season we had a near perfect record against the teams below us,” said Hammers manager David Moyes. They do not now.
That they left Lancashire frustrated owed something to the reflexes of Nick Pope. Gareth Southgate, the manager who has dropped the goalkeeper from the England squad, was at Turf Moor to witness a hat-trick of fine saves.
The first was the best: West Ham are set-piece specialists and when Jarrod Bowen whipped in a free kick, Issa Diop met it with a glancing header. Pope reacted smartly. He proved equally dependable to repel Said Benrahma’s close-range header and Bowen’s injury-time shot.
“The top-level keeper that he is, he will be pleased but they are saves you would fancy him to make,” said Sean Dyche, but after Pope erred for Callum Wilson’s winner for Newcastle last week, it was a welcome return to form. It was just Burnley’s third clean sheet of the season and so keeping out the division’s fourth-highest scorers felt a feat.
West Ham could bemoan the moment when they were denied a spot kick, when Dwight McNeil caught Craig Dawson in the box. This has been a weekend of Premier League penalties, but referee Graham Scott and the VAR, Jonathan Moss, decided it was not another. Dawson seemed to have moved into McNeil’s path. “This weekend we have seen more soft penalty kicks given in the Premier League than all season so I think if those ones were given, I would expect today’s to be given,” said Moyes.
The broader complaint for West Ham, however, should be that they created too little. “We scored three goals against Chelsea last week but we couldn’t get any,” said their manager. Arthur Masuaku, who had scored by mistake with a cross against Chelsea, came close to a more intentional goal with a volley that went just wide.
But Michail Antonio has now gone eight games without a goal and Manuel Lanzini had a quiet match. Their one beacon of excellence was Declan Rice. “Declan was the one who raised the level, took the fight to Burnley and at one point looked as if he was going to waltz through everyone and score,” added Moyes. The captain threatened a wonderful winner, when his long-range shot glanced the roof of the net, but he felt a lone figure trying to rouse the game from mediocrity.
Shorn of five injured defenders, West Ham nevertheless kept a clean sheet with comfort. That reflected on Burnley’s impotence. James Tarkowski met Dwight McNeil’s corner but headed over the bar. Jay Rodriguez, who has been stuck on 99 league goals since February, flicked a header wide and had a goalbound shot turned away by Dawson.
But Chris Wood, often a guarantee of goals against West Ham, was muted. None of Burnley’s other fit midfielders or forwards has scored a league goal this season, given that Maxwel Cornet was absent and much missed. Burnley can only hope he will recover in time for Wednesday’s relegation six-pointer against Watford.
They have not scored in three and a first 0-0 draw in 72 meetings with West Ham rarely looked like finishing with any other scoreline.