A goalless draw between Burnley and Norwich is not just incredibly rare, it is literally a one-off.
Saturday was the first time in their 44 meetings this fixture has finished 0-0 – a result which did little for either side’s immediate hopes of moving up the Premier League table but one that both clubs will hope can spark a recovery after a poor start to the season.
The two teams remain winless after seven games but Burnley’s point at least meant they ensured their start to this campaign is marginally better than at the same stage last term, while Norwich ended a 16-game Premier League losing run.
Daniel Farke’s Canaries head into the second international break of the season bottom of the table, with Sean Dyche’s Clarets just two places and two points above them.
A battle for survival for both sides is looking likely, so what are their chances of avoiding relegation and will the managers be given time?
‘A step forward’
A brief title-winning stay in the Championship last season came in between what has been a grim run for Norwich in the Premier League.
A 2-0 loss at Everton on 25 September was their 16th in a row in the top flight. The longest winless run in Premier League history – a record held by Sunderland – is 20 games.
Six league losses in a row at the start of this season had likely left many Norwich fans fearing that their side could soon take that unwanted title from the Black Cats.
“The point and the clean sheet will help a bit in the table but even more with the mood and the confidence,” said Farke.
“It’s a first step. It’s not like this point will guarantee we stay in the league. Many more steps are needed but it’s a good first step.”
Surprisingly, and encouragingly for Norwich, two sides in the past decade that had just one point or fewer after seven games managed to stay up.
|Team||Season||Points after seven games||Final position||Points above relegation|
Burnley have been in a worse position… and survived
This is familiar territory for Burnley as they were also without a win after seven games last season yet went on to finish 11 points clear of relegation.
That puts their current tally of three points in perspective and their performances this season, despite results, also provide encouragement.
The Clarets’ area for concern is keeping hold of a lead when scoring first. It used to be that if a side conceded first against a strong and disciplined Burnley side they knew getting something from that game would be an almighty task.
In four of their seven games this term they have scored the first goal only to end up conceding and subsequently dropping points. The draw with Norwich also extended their winless run at home to 14 league games, stretching back to last season.
But like the Canaries, this was their first clean sheet of the season and, while the cost of an improved defensive performance was a lack of bite in front of goal, Dyche has full confidence that his side are heading in the right direction.
“We’ll find a way to score goals,” he said. “We had a slow start last season and picked up and had a strong middle and end.
“It’s important we do that again. I believe in the way the players are playing but we’ve got to find that cutting edge.”
Are the fans keeping the faith?
Norwich were rewarded for sticking by Farke after relegation from the Premier League two seasons ago with a Championship title, but another dreary top-flight campaign could test fans’ patience.
However, allowances have to be made for their difficult start. A coronavirus outbreak disrupted their pre-season as two matches were cancelled, while 11 members of their first-team group were sent into self-isolation.
Many of those who braved the wind and rain to travel to Lancashire on Saturday saw an encouraging performance, although more similar displays will be needed, particularly after unconvincing outings in the recent losses to Watford and Everton.
“We had such a difficult first four games it was kind of expected we’d on no points after that,” says Nick Hayhoe of the Along Come Norwich podcast. “Then came the Watford game and that was such a poor performance it got people worried.
“But Daniel Farke is seen almost like a god at Norwich for what he has done in the past two years. For Norwich fans to turn on him, it would take quite something.”
Like Farke, Dyche has plenty of credit in the bank.
Saturday’s game was his 400th in charge of Burnley and during his nine years at the club he has always managed to find a way through difficult moments.
“I don’t think pressure is on him because he is a Burnley legend and he has just signed a new contract at the club,” Burnley supporter and podcaster Jonny Bentley says.
“We’ve played quite well in every game in the Premier League so far this season. The more worrying thing would be if the performances were not there.”
For now, both managers appear to have the trust and patience of their clubs’ supporters.
But that does not change one simple fact: for Burnley and Norwich, that elusive first win cannot come soon enough.