Burnley’s 2-0 win over Saints piles the pressure on Lampard as Watford are all but down
Burnley boosted their survival odds while simultaneously all but putting paid to Watford's, courtesy of a comfortable 2-0 win over Southampton at Turf Moor which also piles the pressure on Everton chief Frank Lampard. The Toffees, managed by Blues legend Lampard, saw their advantage over the Clarets reduce to a solitary point. And what a way it was to respond to Richarlison's last-gasp equaliser against Leicester a day before. Managerless Burnley were in complete control and domination in the opening stages thanks to their attacking flair and impetus. James Tarkowski even admitted before the fixture that a managerial changed could stand Burnley in good stead and lead to playing with “more freedom”. And that’s exactly what the Lancashire outfit did as they attacked and defended in numbers and bamboozled the guests’ rearguard with numerous smart inroads into the box from both flanks . In the first-half they played champagne football, an unknown word in legendary ex-boss Sean Dyche’s dictionary. And it only took them 12 minutes before left-back Connor Roberts produced a moment of magic to give his team the lead with a well-taken shot into the top corner. With the pressure of having to play catch-up off thanks to their morale boosting opener, they kept going in search of a second strike. And after surviving a second free header by ex-Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu it was Nathan Collins to double the advantage with a composed header, which hit the turf on its way in. The 20-year old Irishman towered above both free-kick genius James Ward-Prowse and Lyanco to make it 2-0 a minute before half-time. West Ham target Tarkowski could have killed off the game a minute into the second-half but sent a bullet header over from a corner. Midway through the second period Jack Cork then tapped into an unguarded net but Jay Rodriguez’s handball in the build-up meant his strike was disallowed by VAR. Key to Burnley’s win was their aggressive, hungry and expansive approach. And not only did they see the Saints off in emphatic style but it was a convincing display from each player on the pitch. Caretaker manager Michael Jackson's men carried a goal threat whenever they surged forward all while maintaining their defensive structure and solidity at the back. If tonight was the last chance saloon they made the most of a golden opportunity and reduce the gap on Lampard’s Toffees to a single point, albeit with a game in hand. And for Watford, who are 19th in the table with only with only six games to go, the victory spells further trouble. The doomed Hornets now trail Burnley by six points and Everton by seven with games against Man City and Chelsea still to come. The feeling is that the relegation battle between the Toffees and Clarets will go down to the wire and who knows whether Richarlison’s last-gasp equaliser at Leicester yesterday will be the decisive one to save Lampard’s skin. An enviable CV which contains four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one Champions League trophy and one Europa League as a player looks too good to spoil with the asterisk of a relegation not least as Lampard's career in the dugout is still in its embryonic stages. And there would be a long way back from such a catastrophe for the former Chelsea midfielder. AC Milan legend Filippo Inzaghi had to start from Serie B after a poor season with the club in 2014/2015. Convinced that he could turn a corner, he accepted the Toffees' offer but may now get his fingers burned. And despite having played a game less, Burnley have an on-paper easier fixture list for the run-in compared to Everton who have to face Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in their last seven. But the Clarets lost to Norwich four days after dispatching Everton. The question now is, was yesterday yet another false dawn? If it wasn't and they can register back-to-back wins for only the second time this campaign against Wolves on Sunday, Lampard has a tough nut to crack to avoid slipping to the Championship with only the third club in his embryonic managerial career.