Back on the Premier League road and it’s Stamford Bridge
Burnley should have been at Anfield last week to play Liverpool, but building work at the ground delayed out first away game of the season by a week which sees us back on the road tomorrow at Chelsea.
The last time we played an away league game was in London but it was a totally different occasion. It was against a Charlton side now down in League One and a Charlton side who included two players now with the Clarets in Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Nick Pope.
We won 3-0 that day to clinch the Championship title, even if it wasn’t there. There may not be any titles on offer tomorrow but another 3-0 win would be very enjoyable although I suspect will be much more difficult to achieve than that victory at Charlton.
It’s a long time since we last came away from Stamford Bridge with maximum points and when we did they didn’t count for anything. It was at the end of April 1971 when Steve Kindon scored the only goal in our 1-0 win, but we’d already been relegated after 24 years in the old First Division.
There have been a couple of notable draws since. There was the one on our last visit (see below) and in August 1974 we had an incredible night, coming back to draw 3-3 after trailing 3-0 at half time. Charlie Cooke, Peter Houseman and Bill Garner had scored for them. Ray Hankin, Martin Dobson and Paul Fletcher all scored after the break. Chelsea were relegated that season, one in which Manchester United were a division below us, with Chelsea in the same position in 1975/76. It is, I hasten to add, the last time they have been a division below us.
It was euphoria around Burnley for a few days last week following the sensational win against Liverpool. One thing we Burnley fans don’t like is our club not getting the recognition it deserves in the media, but that was well and truly put right by Danny Murphy on Match of the Day even if (I can’t see past Chelsea) Pat Nevin was less than wholesome in his praise.
Four days later I think we might have wished no media turned up at Accrington but the Sky cameras were there to witness the 1-0 defeat as Sean Dyche made ten changes to his starting line up.
Right-back Matt Lowton. talking about the Liverpool game, said: “It was a massive game for us. We didn’t get the result we wanted first game of the season at home but having a big team come to Turf Moor and turning them over was very good, not just for the team but the fans as well. I think the whole club will build on the confidence from that.”
He added: “It’s gone now as much as it was good. We’ve got to move on quickly. We’ve got a massive game coming up on Saturday away at Chelsea which is going to be another tough game for us but we showed on Saturday we can beat a top team so there’s no reason why we can’t go down there and give a good account of ourselves and get a point or three.”
Lowton played in the league win but sat out the up defeat. He’ll return and I suspect Dyche will make another ten changes tomorrow, simply to restore the team that played so incredibly well against Liverpool.
Ashley Barnes remains out of the reckoning. It’s now five weeks since he left the pitch at Valley Parade in the friendly against Bradford City and the club have already confirmed he is out of contention. Aiden O’Neill suffered a gash to his leg in that collision (if collision can be considered the word for what happened) with Shay McCartan at Accrington but he’s expected to be fit.
I expect us to line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Dean Marney, Steven Defour, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs from: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Jon Flanagan, Fredrik Ulvestad, Aiden O’Neill, Johan Berg Gudmundsson, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz.
When Sean Dyche took over as Burnley manager in October 2012 the Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo had been in the job a matter of a few months having replaced Andre Villas-Boas . They tend not to keep their managers quite so long as us and have since moved from Di Matteo to Antonio Conte via Rafa Benitez and second spells in charge for Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink.
Last season was a disastrous one for them. Mourinho lost it completely and was fired; Hiddink came in to settle things but they ended the season in tenth place. It was their lowest finish in twenty years and in those twenty years the second lowest finish was sixth.
They only won five home games all season; they were beaten by all of Crystal Palace, Southampton, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. Away from home it was slightly better with 26 of their 50 points picked up on the road.
Things change quickly at Chelsea when results are not perfect. Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone was long touted for the job, but they turned to Italian Conte who has started to turn things round.
They haven’t gone over the top in the transfer market, certainly not yet, but they have signed N’Golo Kante from Leicester and what an influence he was last season as the Midlands side, against all the odds, won the league.
Kante has played in both league games so far, in fact, having beaten West Ham 2-1 in the opening day, Conte made only the one enforced change for the game at Watford last week when the came from behind to win 2-1. That change saw Pedro replace the injured Willian who could come back in after training for the last two days.
There might be a place for Mitchy Batshuayi. Signed from Marseille, he’s made two substitute appearances in the league, scoring the equaliser last week with ten minutes to go prior to Diego Costa getting the winner. He then went on to score two of their goals in the 3-2 League Cup win against Bristol Rovers.
It was a second late winner from Costa. That one was in the 87th minute and he’d netted their second against West Ham in the 89th. On that occasion, Eden Hazard had scored the opener from the penalty spot.
I think Willian will return tomorrow and if he does their team is likely to be: Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, Pedro, Oscar, Nemanja Matic, Eden Hazard, Diego Costa. Subs: Asmir Begovic, Ola Aina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chaloba, Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, Mitchy Batshuayi.
LAST TIME WE WERE THERE
Our last visit to Chelsea was hardly a quiet affair. The statistics show that it ended 1-1, that Chelsea, rightly, ended the game with ten men. What they don’t show is Chelsea boss squealing because his side hadn’t won the game. He had to find some excuse so turned appallingly on Ashley Barnes who had been involved in the incident that led to Nemanja Matic going crazy, knocking him to the ground and then seeing Martin Atkinson’s red card.
There was absolutely no reaction from anyone else. That included the close by captain John Terry and his manager who wasn’t too concerned, probably didn’t remain too concerned until Ben Mee headed home the equaliser in minute 81, that’s minute 81 and not the 81st minute because all the squealing Mourinho could talk about was minute 30, minute 33, minute 43 and minute 69 when he thought his side had been wronged.
We got it for about a week – the Chelsea manager chucked James Beattie off Goals on Sunday so he could spout his appalling vitriol and we had to suffer some appalling nonsense on Talksport from the mouthy Adrian Durham and Stan Collymore.
As for the game, Chelsea looked terrific in the first half. They were in front on 14 minutes through Branislav Ivanovic and should probably have gone on to extend their lead. But they lost their way and lost their discipline in the second half, when Diego Costa should surely have followed Matic with a red card of his own, and we enjoyed a superb point against the team that went on to win the league.
We might have won it too; Danny Ings missed a chance right at the end. Had that gone in I suspect Mourinho would have taken over Sky Sports News for at least a week.
The teams were;
Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma, John Terry, Filipe Luis (Didier Drogba 86), Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Juan Cuadrado (Willian 63), Oscar (Ramires 72), Eden Hazard, Diego Costa. Subs not used: Petr Cech, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta, Loic Remy.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Scott Arfield, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Sam Vokes 79), Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Duff, Stephen Ward, Ross Wallace, Lukas Jutkiewicz.Share this page :