Burnley manager Sean Dyche reflected that Nick Pope’s penalty save to deny Leicester striker Jamie Vardy a couple of months ago has proven to be a significant moment in the Clarets’ season.
Having lost their last four in the Premier League, Burnley were looking over their shoulders on January 19 when the Foxes visited Turf Moor, where the sides were level at 1-1 before Vardy saw his spot-kick palmed away by Pope.
Ashley Westwood then struck late on to give Burnley all three points, the start of a six-match unbeaten sequence that has included four wins and taken them into the top half of the standings.
The game – and Pope’s save, in particular – was something of a sliding doors moment for Burnley, with Dyche admitting the result allowed them to build some momentum afterwards.
“The Popey one, looking back, was an important moment, a big part of us winning the game, everything calms again, and then you move forward,” Dyche said.
“Defining the moments in football are often after the event. If you’d told me at that moment that would change the run of the next five games, I’d have said there were no guarantees.
“But now you look and think it was actually a good moment to click things back into gear because after that we’ve delivered better and more team-bound performances.”
Burnley will breach the 40-point barrier – traditionally regarded as the gauge for top-flight survival – if they can overcome Tottenham at teatime on Saturday.
While Burnley have come out of their slump, Spurs are still in the midst of their own following four defeats in a row in all competitions and they continue to be without frontline duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
But Dyche – who will be unable to call upon full-back Matt Lowton, winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson and striker Ashley Barnes – believes Jose Mourinho’s side remain a force to be reckoned with.
“We’re certainly not taking it for granted that because they’re having a sticky patch, that means we take care of business, we’re certainly not doing that, we know we’ll have to give everything,” Dyche added.
“They still have some very good players, very productive players, players who can turn a game quickly.
“Jose has been around it long enough to know the ups and downs and ins and outs of European football, the challenges of it.
“Probably it’s the first time he’s had key injuries, not just a few, but key injuries.
“But they have other top players there, so he’ll know his team and how it’s affecting him, but from our point of view, we’ve got to be right on our mettle.”