Burnley have a reputation of being a difficult side to play against, but it is us who have actually been a thorn in side of manager Sean Dyche, who has only beaten Chelsea once in his managerial career. That first game of the 2017 season was unfortunately quite memorable as Antonio Conte had just come off a title-winning campaign, but Gary Cahill (and eventually Cesc Fàbregas) were sent off, and we were down three-nil at the half.
So, this season, barring referee Andre Marriner deciding to steal the spotlight, we rightly should have expected a win at home against the 18th-placed side.
Sean Dyche has only won once during his 18 games against Chelsea.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 6, 2021
◉ 13 games
◉ 8 losses
◉ 4 draws
◉ 1 win
Boogey team. pic.twitter.com/YHInW7SWrW
Both teams’ formations were largely predictable, with one slight adjustment on our end that may have been unexpected: Ross Barkley was preferred to Hakim Ziyech, as reward for some strong performances from the bench (and some sub-par starts from latter).
Burnley were unchanged from their 3-1 win over Brentford the previous weekend, lining up in a 4-4-2 with Maxwel Cornet as the second striker in support of Chris Wood.
Within the first ten minutes, we could have easily had several goals. Not to sound like a broken record, but once again the last touch or shot were missing — and for once, we would come to rue these missed chances.
Kai Havertz has been wonderful at filling in for our missing strikers, in perhaps his non-preferred position, but it is not an ideal footballing strategy to continually expect and rely on wingbacks and defenders for so many of our goal contributions.
It was not for lack of effort or design that we weren’t finding the back of the net.
Chelsea utilized short corners to great effect again, something that’s clearly been practiced in training, and were generating clear chances from the abundance of corners we won through sustained deep pressure. Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rüdiger, and Jorginho (yes, you read that correctly) had great chances from headers that were either saved by Nick Pope, or narrowly missed.
The first ten minutes of the game truly do tell the full story — Chelsea had six shots (two on target, half of our total count on the day), four corners, and over 70% possession. There has been mounds of praise heaped upon Pope for his performance, but the wastefulness of Chelsea in front of goal probably tells the more accurate story.
While there were some unfortunate misses, we did take the lead in the first half. N’Golo Kanté, dominant as ever, found Reece James in loads of space on the right wing. James’ perfect delivery of the cross did everything — Havertz barely needs to adjust his run or his head to cushion the ball into the corner of the net. It was absolutely gorgeous, free-flowing football.
The second half began similarly to the first, with the post denying Thiago Silva a goal, and Callum Hudson-Odoi (drilled straight into Pope in the 64th) and Ross Barkley (skied a shot in the 73rd minute) both looking the part but failing on the end product from shots inside the penalty box. Any period of pressure from Burnley was absorbed and even led to some nice counter-attacking movements, but once again we weren’t able to capitalize on them.
We rarely concede chances from open play, and so a second goal would’ve surely put the game away.
Shortly after our first substitution of Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Barkley, Burnley’s threat became more evident, despite RLC’s addition theoretically making our midfield and defence more stout. And after Burnley missed a header from a corner in the 75th minute (some suspect defending left Jay Rodriguez open), they would make no mistake a few minutes later — taking advantage of a rare defensive lapse, as well as a drop in the intensity with which we pressed them.
The first lapse is on Hudson-Odoi, who instead of tracking back, tries to unsuccessfully step into the passing lane. He misses and this gives Dwight McNeil too much time to ping a crossfield pass to Matthew Lowton. Ben Chilwell isn’t touch tight, so despite a poor touch from Lowton, the ball falls kindly to Ashley Westwood, whom Havertz should have been marking better.
That’s still not necessarily a problem, but then the next set of issues come into play. Silva can be seen directing the line to stay level with him, which would have caught all three of Burnley’s attackers offside. But neither Christensen nor (and especially) Rüdiger are level and thus play them onside instead.
Jay Rodriguez thus times his run perfectly, and again wins the header to nod the ball down into the path of Vydra, who has the easy tap in — with Édouard Mendy setting up for a save on Rodriguez’s header.
The goal brought on immediate changes from Tuchel, with both Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic coming on, for Kanté and Hudson-Odoi. At this point Burnley were intent on shutting up shop and conceding nothing.
They had been wasting time and laying hard into some questionable tackles already, and those only became more obvious in the final minutes. But referee Marriner was letting play go on and the shenanigans that ensued, especially in extra time, were appalling.
Tuchel was keen to point out afterwards that sometimes luck and efficiency are needed equally to win a game. Clinical finishing is something that Chelsea have struggled with in many games recently, even in those where we have put seven past the opposition, and luck was not on our side last Saturday.
Hopefully the international break will give time to injured players to heal, will allow those participating to return with a clean bill of health, and give us a full squad for the start of the busy holiday period.