The Analysis | Burnley 1-1 Wolves

Wolves had to settle for a point on their travels to Turf Moor on Tuesday night as Gary O’Neil’s side played out a 1-1 draw with Burley.

The Old Gold switched to a back four for the opening hour in Lancashire but having fallen behind to Jacob Bruun Larsen’s effort, Wolves were indebted to Rayan Ait-Nouri’s piece of individual brilliance to get back on level terms after the left wing-back turned attacker won his team a free kick before heading home from the resulting set-piece.

The Matchday Live Extra team of Mikey Burrows and Hall of Fame full-back Andy Thompson watched on as both teams came close to securing the three points, with Ait-Nouri pulling a vital save out of Arijanet Muric, while Jose Sa came to Wolves’ rescue several times after the break.

Taking a point from Turf Moor

Thompson said: “Burnley won’t think a draw was a fair result, but we hung in there, which was promising, and the way that we went about it, but more importantly we scored. We didn’t want to go through the game without scoring, but Burnley had some big spells throughout the game, but there were still lots of opportunities for us to get at Burnley and cause them a problem, but there was a mis-control or a pass just being off a little bit.

“Sa made three great saves in the second half, but I think Wolves will be more than happy with the point, especially with the way that the game went. Ait-Nouri had a golden chance and did brilliant initially, but he’s got to finish it again. The goal that he scored in the first half was harder than that. But he looks good in the advanced roles.”

Ait-Nouri playing in the front three

Thompson said: “Don’t get me wrong, he’s still flamboyant with the way that he plays and the drag-backs and everything else, but if he’s at the top end of the pitch, I can understand it, but he’s just got to get clinical in front of goal. He’s got to make sure that when he’s got that chance, he takes it, because in the Premier League, you can be punished, but you also win the game and get three points by scoring that. I watched him the other day at Villa Park in the warm-up and they were shooting, and he was putting them all in the top corner – driving them, left foot, right foot, everything.

“I know it’s a different pressure cooker when you’re in the game, but he does look better when he’s going up front. How many times did he get away from them because of his pace and his ability to run with the ball? They couldn’t catch him and he did it numerous times. For his goal, he won it by running forward with the ball away from defenders, he had a couple of other opportunities as well as that when he ran down the centre of the pitch, and he had that chance when he could have put us 2-1 up, so he’s got great ability and, for me, he looks better more advanced.”

Reverting to a back three in the second half

Thompson said: “We did look a bit more comfortable and we looked more comfortable in the positions they were getting into, and the midfield two looked comfortable. The way the game was going before then, we were just chasing Burnley and that’s probably one of the reasons why, because their starting position isn’t right with the four at the back, they didn’t know where to go, and the whole team looks more comfortable with a back three behind them and everyone knows what their positions are.

“It gives them that bit of security, but also as a playing side, how many attempts did Burnley have when we went to a three at the back? It was limited to what they could do or how they got behind us, but there was numerous times when we had the four at the back. If we’d have had three at the back, I don’t think they score. If there’s three at the back, Larsen’s not free to score that goal.”

Looking ahead to West Ham on Saturday

“I still think Gomes and Lemina are his pair that Gary likes in there. We know by looking the other day that Lemina wasn’t happy when he’s playing a more advanced role and he looks more settled in midfield. But you’ve always got Doyle to come in, if one of them is struggling, Gomes or Lemina, whichever one it is, but I think a midfield two just gives you a little bit more of a pivotal point up front with the three.

“And with Cunha coming back in, the threat that he’s got will unsettle teams as well. They know for a fact that if he’s running with the ball, he’s going to be hard to stop. He’s still coming back from injury, but he’s got that pace and that ability. In the 15 minutes he was on, you could already see the ability and strength he’s got by holding the ball up and laying it off, he’s got that mental sharpness straight away. He probably hasn’t got the physical sharpness yet, but that’s what he offers you as an experienced player up front. It’s great to see him back.”

Giving their all until the end

“The Coventry game is the one that’s hurt everybody. Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to lose to Villa, but you know what form Villa are in at the moment, especially at home, but the Coventry game was the one that knocked everybody about, especially having gone 2-1 up with three minutes left. But I feel they’re a team that is starting to get back to where we know they can be. They’re a team that’s been fighting, have scored more goals then they’ve done in the Premier League for a long time.

“They’re giving everything this season and are battling so hard, but like a boxer, if you take that knockout punch out of your side, you’ve got nothing to hurt the opponent, and that’s what we’ve looked like in recent games. But we’re starting to get people back who are going to give us that sharp edge that we’ve been missing at the top end of the pitch. You need your top players at the top part of the pitch and that’s why they’re your most expensive players, because they offer the team that cutting edge.”

Thompson was talking to Mikey Burrows on Wolves’ official post-match podcast, Matchday Live Extra, which is available to listen to now on all podcast providers.