Burnley and Watford’s long-awaited relegation showdown ended in a 0-0 draw, with Roy Hodgson picking up a point and clean sheet in his first game in charge.
After two successive Covid postponements, the two relegation-threatened sides finally met at a wet and windy Turf Moor with the newly-appointed Hodgson taking his place in the dugout.
With defences – or the weather – ultimately coming out on top, Watford kept their first clean sheet in 30 Premier League games since a famous 3-0 win against Liverpool in February 2020. Burnley have now kept a clean sheet in each of their last four league games against the Hornets.
“The crux of it is this clean sheet as an event isn’t that important,” Hodgson said. “But it did maybe show the players that the work they’ve done over the last 10 days and taking on the messages Ray and I have been giving them, that’s got to be the encouraging thing.”
The result sees Burnley remain bottom of the table on 13 points, but they remain with games in hand over their rivals. Watford stay in 18th with 15 points, one behind Norwich in the safety of 17th place.
Burnley, who had not played at home since December 12, began well. Deadline Day signing Wout Weghorst linked up with AFCON returnee Maxwel Cornet, nodding the ball down for his new team-mate. An inadvertent touch from Craig Cathcart pushed Cornet out to the right, but his fierce volley was pushed behind by Ben Foster.
But Watford soon began to find their feet. Juraj Kucka drove down the right of the area before cutting the ball back for the waiting Joshua King. However, the forward could not make the right connection, slipping over on the slick surface as the ball ran away from him.
Burnley were saved by a huge slice of luck shortly before the break. King had forced the first save from Nick Pope to win Watford a corner, which was delivered by Kiko Femenia. Joao Pedro nodded the ball on, which Ben Mee inadvertently turned goalwards. However, it hit Aaron Lennon on the knees, waiting on the touchline, before the ball was smuggled away.
Watford saw luck against them again on the stroke of half-time. There were huge shouts for handball as Ken Sema’s attempted cross hit Connor Roberts on the arm, which looked to be in an unnatural position. Craig Pawson blew the half-time whistle soon after, surrounded by yellow shirts touching their arms. However, after a brief VAR review, nothing was given as the players made their way to the dressing rooms.
Both sides saw chances as the second half began. Within a minute, Weghorst saw his deflected strike loop onto the top of the crossbar after a good block from Hassane Kamara. At the other end, Joao Pedro’s header forced a good save from Pope.
Burnley: Pope (6), Roberts (7), Tarkowski (8), Mee (6), Pieters (7), Lennon (7), Westwood (7), Stephens (7), McNeil (6), Cornet (7), Weghorst (7).
Subs used: Rodriguez (7).
Watford: Foster (7), Femenia (6), Cathcart (7), Samir (6), Kamara (7), Kucka (7), Kayembe (6), Sissoko (7), Sema (6), King (7), Joao Pedro (7).
Subs used: Cleverley (7), Hernandez (7).
Man of the match: James Tarkowski.
But with time passing by, it was Burnley who had the better chances for a goal. In a good move. Cornet’s effort forced a diving save from Foster. Westwood picked up the rebounded ball, flashing it through the six-yard box for the waiting Jay Rodriguez, but the striker was unable to flick it home.
Soon after, substitute Rodriguez went close again after a nice ball in from Roberts, but his header wriggled just wide of the far post. Tom Cleverley also forced a good save from Pope at the other end, but the game ultimately ended with neither side finding the net.