Sean Dyche admits Andre Gray ban galvanised Burnley ahead of Watford clash
Burnley boss Sean Dyche suggested disappointment over Andre Gray's suspension helped spur his side to a 2-0 victory over Watford.
The Clarets saw last season's top-scorer banned for four matches by the Football Association on Friday, having faced disrepute charges related to offensive tweets from 2012.
Gray publicly apologised for the content of those posts, some of which contained homophobic language, and they are condemned by his employers too, but there is a sense of frustration at Turf Moor that they are paying for ills that occurred before his time at the club.
On Monday night Jeff Hendrick and Michael Keane filled the goalscoring vacuum, heading home crosses from Steven Defour either side of half-time for a second win of the season.
But Dyche's unease at Gray's punishment was close to the surface.
"We had a big knock this week with Andre," he said.
"To make it clear we of course think the tweet was unacceptable. But it's fair to say we're disappointed for a four-game ban, very disappointed.
"Sir Dave Brailsford is famous for his 'one per centers', well Andre is missing 12 per cent of our games now. It's a hard one to take but the decision is made and we have to get on with it and be ready, and tonight we were ready.
"They didn't just step up for that reason but sometimes there's a galvanising thing that happens to a group."
Keane, who hit the target five times in the Championship last season, came out a comfortable winner in his duel with fellow England hopeful Troy Deeney.
As well as notching his first ever top-flight goal, Keane led a mature defensive effort that left him proclaiming the team's display as their finest of the campaign.
Given they beat Liverpool in August - the only side to have done so this term - that is some claim.
"That's our best performance of the season," Keane said.
"We went in knowing what we had to do. Jeff Hendrick's goal settled us down and I managed to get a goal and from then we looked dominant."
Deeney had enjoyed one of the finest days of his career last time out, scoring in a 3-1 win over Jose Mourinho's Manchester United.
But he and the Hornets came crashing down with a bump on their trip to Lancashire and he highlighted the Clarets' physicality as a decisive factor.
"I have to watch my words so I don't get in trouble," Deeney told Sky Sports 1.
"We got bullied, that's the best way to describe it. We got bullied all over the pitch to a man.
"Fair play to Burnley. They had a game plan, stuck to it and delivered.
"I'm very disappointed. We've had the highs of the last couple of weeks and if you don't match those high standards, people have every right to ask questions."
Walter Mazzarri, who is quickly finding out how unpredictable results in the Premier League can be, added: " In English football it is difficult.
"We wanted continuity after Manchester United but we didn't get it and tomorrow I will speak to the players.
"I am not happy with this performance, until now I have always said the performances have been good, that we were growing each game, but today this stopped.
"In every tackle they won, they went further to reach the ball. So Burnley were good, but we were not good."