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Hart: There Is Definite Improvement

Clarets keeper embraces new formation but knows points must follow

15 December 2018

Joe Hart stressed the need to put points on the board but backed the Clarets to keep on improving after their new-look approach almost paid off at Wembley.

A last-gasp 1-0 defeat to Tottenham – who avoided a first Premier League draw in 21 games thanks to Christian Eriksen’s injury-time strike – left the Clarets just one place above the Premier League’s bottom three.

But with Sean Dyche’s side lining up with three central defenders for the first time in a re-arranged back line, Hart was only moments away from keeping a second successive clean sheet to build on last weekend’s vital 1-0 home win over Brighton.

“The manager has made no secret of what we want to be as a team and what makes this club successful and the last two games are where we need to be,” said the Clarets’ keeper, who made two top-class saves from Eric Lamela to keep Tottenham at bay until the 91st-minute.

“There is definite improvement. I joined knowing the defensive unit we had and we have not been solid so far this season. We have given chances away, but we have been better in the last two games.

“I think we took it (the new formation) on. The lads are saying this is a new thing for the team.

“We brought it in this week and the lads bought into it and we performed with it.

“The game is constantly evolving, and we can’t afford to be left behind, so it was important we embraced it and it shows what a good set of players we’ve got with a good attitude and we’re all in sync.”

With Kevin Long slotting in alongside James Tarkowksi and Ben Mee, the Clarets played with five at the back and four in front of them to look far more solid than their previous visit to the capital – a dismal 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace at the start of the month.

But it wasn’t quite enough to stave off a sixth away defeat of the season as the Clarets’ brave resistance came up agonisingly short.

“Football is tough at times,” Hart added. “We’ve defended the majority of the game so Tottenham will feel they deserved to win the game.

“I don’t think we can complain too much that they have beaten us today, but at the same time I don’t think they’d have complained too much if we’d got the draw because we limited them to so little.

“We feel like we were doing enough and we could handle them.

“It’s ironic that the goal comes from quite a long ball and a bit of a mess really when they were playing such nice football and not really getting anywhere.

“We’re gutted, but at the same time it’s a long season and we will dust ourselves off and get ready to go again.”

Burnley are back in London next Saturday to face Tottenham’s North London rivals Arsenal in their last game before Christmas.

And Hart is looking for a similar approach against another team challenging for a top-four place as the Clarets look to ease their position near the foot of the table.

“There’s definitely a realistic fact that we are in a relegation fight, so points mean prizes,” admitted the England international.

“Performances are obviously important, but I would have taken a horrendous performance today and nicking a point, rather than be solid and losing.

“So we need to make the most of what we’ve done today, and that’s by moving things forward.”

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