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Chelsea drop 2 points in Burnley farce

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1-1. These ones are the hardest to write.

I mean that literally. There are matches which leave you down in the dumps and more than a little inebriated, a state rife with creative possibility. There are comfortable wins, which let you play with ebullient turns of phrase before the hour mark. Then there are close, exciting victories in which every word flows straight out of the match itself, a joyful vomit of narrative which ends in celebration.

And then there are matches which leave me literally trembling with rage and barely able to type straight. This was one of them, and you'll have to forgive any typos.

Chelsea were good enough to beat Burnley today, and fairly handily at that. They weren't good by any objective measure, but then again Burnley are quite bad, as they showed in the first half when pretty much all they did right was clean up on aerial 50-50s. Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic combined to give the Blues an early lead shortly after Tom Heaton saved a flying header from Juan Cuadrado, and the match should have been wrapped up just after half an hour, when Michael Kightly blocked a shot with a raised arm.

It was not.

In truth, the match had already gone a little off the rails. After the opener, scored mostly because Hazard did some frankly horrible things to the entire visiting defence, Burnley started playing aggressively -- you might actually say dangerously. Ashley Barnes kicked things off with what seemed to be a deliberate stamp on Ivanovic as they landed after an aerial duel, but referee Martin Aktinson ignored the challenge. And the laissez-faire refereeing continued with the penalty shout too: a shot striking an upraised arm was not, apparently, sufficient to warrant a spot kick.

And neither was a push in the back from Jason Shackell on Diego Costa, who seemed mostly perplexed that a defender was allowed to shove him over in the area. Perhaps his befuddlement lay in the fact that he wasn't issued a yellow card for simulation, as last happened to him when he was fouled in the Burnley box, way back on the first day of the season.

Worse was to come in the second half, which was mostly under control (if annoyingly goal-less) until good old minute 69. Ashley Barnes put in perhaps the worst tackle I've seen all season, a studs-up lunge at Nemanja Matic's plant leg that brought immediate retaliation from the big midfielder, who perhaps was surprised that he still possessed both feet. Atkinson was eager to resolve the melee, dishing out a red card to Matic for the shove and a yellow for Ivanovic for being similarly Serbian.

Chelsea had lost their most important central player, and the momentum was all with Burnley. There's little more difficult than outlasting a determined opponent with a numerical advantage, and when you get right down to it the clarets are essentially determination personified. Thibaut Courtois saved well from Barnes, but couldn't keep them out for long -- Ben Mee, marked by Matic's ghost, nodded in from the resulting corner, and that was that for the scoring.

Blue shirts flooded forward to try to find a winner, but it was Burnley who were closer, exploiting the gaps we left behind for some dangerous runs but ultimately wasting their chance to come away from Stamford Bridge with three points. Chelsea, meanwhile, were disjointed, upset, and despite the introduction of Didier Drogba, thoroughly toothless.

It's sometimes said that in football you have to be good enough to survive no matter what the referee throws at you. And yes, I suppose that's true -- if we'd been a little sharper on the attack, we'd have won this game no matter what. But that's only part of the story, and when match officials aren't even bothering to protect our players from tackles that could cause serious injury, it's difficult to treat them with anything but contempt.

[Fun] this.

tl;dr: 30, 33, 43, 69.

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