Chelsea drop points at Turf Moor against a defensively solid Burnley but still extend their lead at the top to ten points.
The blues took an early lead through Spanish midfielder Pedro, as they looked set to record back-to-back league wins. Brady’s free-kick flew past Chelsea goalkeeper Thilbaut Courtois, with an unstoppable curling thunderbolt from improbable range on 24 minutes.
Burnley defended solidly and exploited Chelsea’s defence on various occasions as they attempted to gain control of the match. The clarets limited Chelsea to vary few goal scoring opportunities and minimised the flow of counter attacking moves.
The hosts could’ve stole all three points but Gray applied a timid finish, which lacked composure, to force Courtois into a simplistic save. Azpilicueta’s thunderous long-range attempt skipped over the roof of the net in an uneventful second period.
Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to ten points, due to Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat at Liverpool yesterday evening. Burnley climb into 12th place and also boast the fourth strongest home record in the English top flight.
Both teams reached the FA Cup fifth round and feature in next weekend’s set of fixtures. The clarets host non-league side Lincoln City, whereas Chelsea travel to Championship outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Burnley controlled and smothered Chelsea’s frantic, free flowing and dangerous attacking frontline. They were stretched and exploited when Moses broke through to assist Pedro in the seventh minute.
They used this as a learning curve and went onto put in a very strong and solid defensive performance. The first goal for Chelsea was very poorly defended, due to naivety and rashness from the hosts.
Hazard’s sweeping pass out to the right stretched the Burnley midfield and defence, forcing Arfield to make a rash last ditch sliding challenge on Moses. The former Wigan wing back hurdled his challenge, which left Burnley with less numbers to defend.
Furthermore, Moses attracted both Ward and Mee, which provided more space in the penalty area. Michael Keane was caught in two minds on whether to approach Moses or stay tight on Pedro. In the end he did neither, which left a huge gap inside the penalty area for Pedro to move into and comfortably dispatch his finish past Heaton.
Burnley equalised on 24 minute via former Norwich City midfield Robbie Brady, who scored a memorable free-kick on his Burnley debut. He curled a rifling effort into the top corner from improbable range, making it impossible for Courtois to stop.
The hosts defended strongly from this point onwards and almost split the pitch into two halves. This gave them more balance and gears to spring from defence to attack, which they did on various occasions.
Chelsea’s defence played the offside trap in attempt to catch Lowton offside but they timed their decision poorly and Barton’s pass found Lowton. Fortunately, Courtois showed good alertness and awareness to emerge and prevent the threat with an important save.
The game was becoming very open but Burnley handled this incredibly well by placing three defenders in a deep position and two holding midfielders further in front. This left the rest of the players freedom to attack, with the deeper players concentrating on their defensive roles.
This was positive for Burnley, who took advantage of their well executed plan by playing the Premier League table toppers at their own game. Matic lost the ball inside Burnley’s half and launched a through ball into Andre Gray. Cahill was very rash in his decision making by rushing to Barnes to confront him.
Cahill’s poor decision making put his defence in a dangerous position and Burnley had a 2V2 situation. Unfortunately, Gray was unable to apply a decisive finish and Courtois was forced into a relatively comfortable save.
Chelsea resulted to shooting from range but came very close when deciding to resort to this style. Cesar Azpilicueta launched a swerving effort towards goal from improbable range and his ambitious strike swooped just a whisker over the crossbar.
The clarets have become a domineering force at Turf Moor but just need to improve on their away form. Burnley have taken 29 points away from games on home turf, boasting the fourth strongest home record this season, with only Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal bettering their record. However, they are currently bottom place in terms of their away form, as they’ve failed to record a win on the road and have lost 10 of their 11 away fixtures.
Chelsea’s away form is the strongest in the league but they’ve scored 14 goals less in their 13 away fixtures compared to their 12 home games. This is largely down to teams using their home advantage to play deep and prevent Chelsea from playing free flowing and dangerous counter attacking football.
The blues moved 10 points clear at the top of the table and this draw will have little bearing on the rest of the season. A defeat at Burnley could’ve upset the tide at Stamford Bridge but they continue to form an unassailable lead at the top of the Premier League table.