James Tarkowski hailed the turnaround in Burnley’s fortunes as they enjoyed a much happier day against Everton at Turf Moor.
A difficult first half of last season reached its nadir on Boxing Day when Everton romped to a 5-1 victory. The result left Burnley in the relegation zone with 12 points from 19 games.
A tally of 28 points over the second half of the campaign ensured they survived comfortably in the end and this season is shaping up very differently so far.
By beating the Toffees 1-0 on Saturday, Burnley have reached 12 points from only eight games, which was enough to put them fourth for a couple of hours before they were overtaken by Crystal Palace.
Looking back to last December, Tarkowski said: “That was probably one of the toughest days I’ve had whilst being at Burnley in terms of performance and the way the result went against us.
“And since then we’ve performed quite consistently and picked up some very good points and the difference in performance from that day to today is massive.
“Fair play to the lads because that was a difficult period for us and to come out of that and turn it round the way we have up until this point has been really good.”
It was not one of Burnley’s best performances of the season but they defended impressively, with Tarkowski at the heart of things, and scored the only goal through Jeff Hendrick after Seamus Coleman had been sent off.
Hendrick has started the last three games after scoring a late equaliser at Brighton as a substitute. Against Norwich and Aston Villa he was deployed out wide before shifting into the centre of midfield on Saturday with Jack Cork injured.
“Ever since he signed he’s scored a lot of important goals and he’s an important player for us,” said Tarkowski.
“Sometimes he gets put out wide, and other times he gets put in the middle – he doesn’t mind as long as he’s playing and I think his performance was terrific.”
The emotions were very different for Everton, who have now lost four in a row in the Premier League for the first time in nearly five years and are sinking down towards the bottom of the table.
Coleman’s sending off tipped the balance, while the Toffees paid for slack marking in allowing Hendrick to score from a corner.
Sigurdsson said: “We knew what we were going to expect from Burnley, they’re obviously very strong from corners and at set-pieces. It felt like the game was there for the taking but we’ll be very disappointed to concede from a corner. That’s something we have to get right.”
Boss Marco Silva was greeted by an angry reaction from the Everton fans when he went to applaud them at the end of the game and pressure is growing on the Portuguese.
Sigurdsson believes the Toffees can turn things around, as they did last season with a strong finish.
“I think we can do it but we have to do it quick,” said the Iceland international. “It’s obviously very frustrating and very disappointing the last few weeks.
“Mentally it’s very tough, it’s not easy to be in this position but I think we can learn from last year, we were in a tough position and we managed to get ourselves out of it but we have to stick together and make sure we’re working harder now than we’ve ever done.”
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