A Stamford Bridge too far for the Clarets
Wins against Liverpool and Aston Villa in the two previous games coupled with Chelsea still coming to terms with yet another change of manager contributed to some real optimism for our game against them at Stamford Bridge yesterday.
We’d had some good days there in the Premier League. There was Minute 81 in the 2014/15 season when Jose Mourinho lost the plot, there was the sensational opening day win in 2017/18 and just two seasons ago a 2-2 draw when we got accused of anti-football.
Surrounding those games there had been some really tough afternoons at the Bridge. We’d lost 3-0 on three occasions including last season. The previous two in 2009/10 and 2016/17 were very definitely difficult afternoons.
I was quite confident. We were playing a side who had won just once in six league games, we were playing well, Thomas Tuchel was just settling in, why not? As it turned out there was no reason to be confident at all as Chelsea stepped up, played well and, overall, were just too good for us on the day.
It all started quite well I thought. We took the game to Chelsea and without ever really being able to create much I felt that for the first quarter of the game we were probably the better side. If only we could have got in front during this period but the truth is we didn’t come close to one with little created to test their goal.
During the final fifteen minutes or so of the half it was becoming apparent that things were changing. Chelsea were coming more and more into the game and it was beginning to look as though we needed to get to half time at 0-0 to get things sorted. We didn’t; five minutes from the break they took the lead. Chelsea countered quickly. Callum Hudson-Odoi played in César Azpilicueta who fired home from the angle.
So, instead of 0-0, it was 0-1 at half time and a big task facing us in the second half. With little suggestion of us getting back into things, Sean Dyche replaced Vydra with Rodriguez but quickly had to make another change when Chris Wood suffered an injury which saw Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson come on with that changed shifting Robbie Brady from right to left and Dwight McNeil into a central role.
It was more hope than expectation by now and that hope disappeared when Marcos Alonso hammered home a second for Chelsea. We were beaten although James Tarkowski did get a header over the bar from a corner in stoppage time.
It’s often said for us to get results against these teams, they have to be off it and we have to be very much on it. They, unfortunately for us, were on it and we weren’t. By the time the final whistle blew there was absolutely no doubt that Chelsea were deserving winners and we couldn’t complain at all about the scoreline.
Brighton beat Spurs, no surprise given the way Spurs played, to go within a point of us while Newcastle are now back above us on goals scored having won at Everton. There hasn’t been too much damage done though with Fulham and West Brom drawing their game and Sheffield United losing to leave us still eight points clear of the drop zone.
The teams were;
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy, César Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rüdiger, Callum Hudson-Odoi (Reece James 73), Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount (Kai Havertz 80), Tammy Abraham (Christian Pulisic ht), Timo Werner. Subs not used: Subs not used: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Robbie Brady (Joel Mumbongo 76), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 62), Matěj Vydra (Jay Rodriguez 62). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Dale Stephens, Josh Benson.
Yellow Card: Ashley Westwood.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).