Chelsea’s relentless schedule continues with a third successive away game and the hope of the first Premier League three-point haul since the start of this month. There is an opportunity to climb the table, with just six points separating the top 15 clubs, and confidence should be high after Wednesday.
On a lush, bumpy surface in Krasnodar the Blues won 4-0, recording the biggest margin of victory by an English team on Russian soil in the Champions League and taking the lead in Group E.
Yet after successive Premier League draws Frank Lampard’s men will want to make headway against Burnley, a team who find themselves early occupants of a relegation slot thanks in part to playing one game fewer than most.
The trip to the Lancashire moors should hold no fear. Since the start of last season only Manchester City (50) have scored more Premier League goals on the road than Chelsea’s 45. That tally includes four scored against Burnley in this fixture almost exactly a year ago, when Christian Pulisic pocketed a 36-minute hat-trick.
Chelsea have won five of our six Premier League matches at Turf Moor, scoring two or more in each victory.
Chelsea team news
Goals and London buses, eh? Frank Lampard will be delighted that his triple substitution and switch to a 4-3-3 in Russia had such a remedial effect, the Blues netting four goals in the wake of two successive 0-0 draws. In the quest to find balance across the whole team and bringing the best out in all the players in the squad, he has used a variety of systems even within games.
Against Krasnodar, the change delivered balance and unleashed the creativity in players either side of midfield anchor N’Golo Kante, also offering different angles of passing and pressing possibilities to kill off the game
Whether that is the best approach at Burnley, who are well-drilled and fight for every point, remains to be seen. Although the Blues’ most-used set-up has been a 4-2-3-1, a similar switch to the attacking trident at defensive-minded West Bromwich also turned the match around. Meanwhile, the 3-4-3 line-up has locked out Manchester United (and others previously), but has not delivered the consecutive wins that every coach craves.
A few individual performances stood out during Wednesday’s match at Krasnodar. Edou Mendy is surely on his way to cult status with moments such as his bravery in the melee when the Bulls showed their horns, as well as one or two brilliant saves. The goalie ensured the Blues maintained the tradition of leading at half-time against every Russian team on their own soil.
The ‘wizard’ Hakim Ziyech spelled his way onto the scoresheet to mark his first start for the Londoners, Callum Hudson-Odoi notched a maiden Champions League goal, Timo Werner spanked in a penalty, and Tammy Abraham again looked so sharp setting up Christian Pulisic – all great confidence boosts.
Jorginho’s earlier miss from the spot was his second of the season, and this was the second time the Blues were awarded a pair of penalties in the same game (the other being Crystal Palace).
Last season Chelsea’s results in league games following a Champions League away trip such as this one were impressive. The Blues won 4-1 at Southampton after Lille away, and 4-2 after Ajax – at Burnley. The only loss after a midweek European flight came at West Ham following the draw at Valencia.
Thiago Silva, who was rested for the Russia trip, is fit to play in Lancashire and there are likely to be a few other changes as Lampard spreads the workload during this intensive period.
While Chelsea endured an arduous trek to south Russia, arriving back in the early hours of Thursday, Sean Dyche’s men have had most of the week to rest and prepare. The Blues will not want to be the first visiting side to concede at Turf Moor this season, but will know the onus is on the visitors to break down Burnley’s solid banks of four.
So far this campaign no team has scored fewer goals than Saturday’s hosts (though they have conceded the same number as Chelsea). Yet they summoned 13 attempts to Tottenham’s nine in Monday night’s narrow 1-0 loss, while the tight marking of James Tarkowski and company stifled the Lilywhites for three quarters of the game until a well-worked corner and loss of concentration proved their undoing.
It would be wrong to characterise the Clarets’ attacking solely by the number of long balls they play towards the big men Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, when they have Johann Gudmundsson’s scheming and lung-busting full-backs as other outlets.
The Lancastrians, when awarded set-plays, have the cultured boot of Gudmundsson or Ashley Westwood. That is the source of two of their three league goals to date. The new concern for Dyche, who celebrated eight years at Turf Moor this week, is that winger Gudmundsson has joined a casualty list that already included central midfielder Jack Cork, an ex-Blue, and skipper Ben Mee.
How to watch Burnley-Chelsea
This match is another selected for the £14.95 BT Box Office in the UK. To find the relevant broadcaster where you are abroad, see the Premier League’s broadcast schedule pages.
It will be Chelsea’s last pay-per-view match until the end of November at least, with a decision on next steps to be debated at a meeting of Premier League chairmen in the next few weeks.
The Blues-centred match coverage on the 5th Stand app, Facebook Live and official YouTube channel begins 70 minutes before kick-off with assessment of the teamsheets and exclusive interviews.
Net gains despite Old Trafford draw
Last week’s draw away to Manchester United put the Blues two points up on like-for-like fixtures last season.
|Watford/West Brom away||W||D||-2|
|Crystal Palace home||W||W||=|
|Manchester United away||L||D||1|
Clarets playing catch-up
Burnley were one of the four teams who had their feet up over the opening weekend (when they were supposed to host Manchester United) and have arguably suffered most as a result of being behind the rest. The single point from five games (four defeats and a draw) matches their worst opening to a Premier League campaign in 2018/19 and is seven fewer than their best start, 2017/18.
Only four clubs have ever registered fewer points at this stage of the season (zero-pointers Southampton in 1998/99, Sunderland 2005/06, Portsmouth 2009/10 and Crystal Palace 2017/18). Fulham and Sheffield United are even worse off, with one point after six games.
Terrific at Turf Moor
Chelsea have not lost at Burnley in the top-flight since 28 Aug 1973, when Frank Casper volleyed past Peter Bonetti with 10 minutes to go to leave Dave Sexton’s men pointless after two games.
It is the Blues’ longest such run against a current Premier League club, the next best being against Fulham (most recent loss 19 March 2006), Southampton (10 March 2013) and West Brom (18 May 2015). The Blues have never lost at Brighton, starting with a 4-0 win in January 2018.
Since 1973 the Londoners have made seven trips back to Turf Moor in Division One and the Premier League, producing six wins and a draw. The past two visits have each produced four Chelsea goals, including a stunning hat-trick last time round for Christian Pulisic.
Refs United on VAR
The lack of punishment for Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, who impeded Cesar Azpilicueta with a headlock during last weekend’s 0-0, managed to unite former officials in disapproval.
‘At the very least, [VAR Stuart] Attwell should have asked [referee Martin] Atkinson to review the incident,’ said Peter Walton. ‘This was not a failure of technology but another example of human error.
Another ex-whistler, Dermot Gallagher, suggested Attwell’s oversight resulted from the ball remaining in play and action continuing: ‘I think he [Attwell] looked at it, cleared it very quickly, and didn’t scrutinise it. When you look at it in depth, as we have, there’s no doubt whatsoever if Martin Atkinson is sent to the monitor I think he’d make a different decision