Chelsea disappointed in their first Premier League match as defending champions as they suffered a 3-2 loss at home to Burnley. The match saw a whopping two red cards for the home side, so the dramatics were certainly on full display.
FIRST HALF: MADNESS FROM CAHILL CAUSES TROUBLE
Chelsea barely had time to develop a rhythm in the match before a nasty studs-up tackle from Gary Cahill left the home side with 10 men in the 14th minute. The straight red card was early enough in the match to alter Chelsea’s tactics, forcing them to be more conservative in their attacks.
But Burnley reacted appropriately to take advantage of this favorable situation. Only 10 minutes after the red card, Burnley scored with a Sam Vokes half-volley. A cross played into the box was scuffed by the Burnely striker, but the shot still managed to sneak past Thibaut Courtois to put the visitors in the lead.
But the fun was only getting started. Burnley struck again with a well worked move down the left side of the Chelsea penalty area, before Stephen Ward unleashed a brilliant shot to double the visitors’ lead.
As if it wasn’t enough to put two past the defending champions, Burnley added insult to injury right before halftime with their third goal of the match. A short free kick allowed a beautiful cross to be delivered into the box. Vokes rose highest to put his header past Courtois yet again for his second goal.
SECOND HALF: A RESURGENT CHELSEA FALLS SHORT
Chelsea responded well in the second half to keep themselves alive in the match, putting an end to the impression of a slow-motion car crash that was their first-half performance. Meanwhile, Burnley was content with sitting back and absorbing pressure. Understandable, given their one-man and three-goal advantage.
But substitute Álvaro Morata managed to make a quick impact with his goal in the 69th minute. A Willian cross found the Spanish striker with acres of space to direct his header into the net.
Just when the comeback was starting to grow legs, Fabregas made a late challenge on Cork to earn a second yellow card. But with nine men and nine minutes left, Chelsea were still determined to get something out of the match.
Then, David Luiz really ramped up the pressure with a thundering strike in the 88th minute to cut Burnley’s lead down to one goal.
Chelsea piled on the pressure in the dying moments of the match, but were ultimately unable to break down this resilient Burnley side.
BRILLIANT BURNLEY AND QUESTIONS FOR CONTE
This match may have come as a surprise to some, but it absolutely demonstrated Burnley’s ability to play smart, while highlighting Chelsea’s frailties.
The early red card did a lot to hurt Chelsea’s chances of winning, but what really put them to the sword was how Burnley were capable of hitting them hard and quickly after the sending-off. Three first-half goals caught a disorganized Chelsea side completely off guard, while their second-half defending kept the home side out once they got their attacking rhythm back.
But Chelsea will have a lot of questions about their team’s mentality and squad depth after this match. They looked completely lost before Morata came on to contribute with a goal and an assist. The lack of attacking variety hurt Chelsea today, but the return of some injured players may give them hope for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, Burnley will celebrate a big away victory against the champions and try to use this as a stepping stone to survival for another year in the league.
• Possession: Chelsea 62% Burnley 38%
• Corners: Chelsea 8 Burnley 5
• Shots: Chelsea 19 Burnley 10
• Shots on Target: Chelsea 6 Burnley 5
• Fouls: Chelsea 16 Burnley 11