Late goals can’t prevent home defeat against Chelsea
Burnley fell to a 4-2 defeat against Chelsea and the result could have been much worse than that had a penalty decision not been overturned before we scored two late goals to make the scoreline look more respectable.
Jay Rodriguez, with his first home league goal in open play since a 2-0 win against Barnsley on Valentine’s Day 2012, and then Dwight McNeil, his first of the season, both scored in the closing minutes but in some ways those goals gave a more sensible look to the result in a game where we did at times play some good football only to be let down by poor mistakes at both ends of the pitch that saw us concede at one end and fail to score at the other.
At the end of the day, I don’t think there is much doubt that Chelsea deserved the points, but on another day, without those uncharacteristic errors, we might well have got ourselves a result against one of the supposed big six.
Yesterday was this website’s turn to volunteer for Clarets for Foodbanks on what was another successful day as members of Burnley FC Supporters Groups, some of them if not all, support the collections that are making such a big difference to Burnley Community Kitchen’s foodbank in the town centre and I’d like to thank Chris, Ged, James, John, Martin and Michael who gave up their time yesterday to stand outside the ground with the wheelie bins and, more so, to everyone who made a donation.
Preston, apparently calling themselves the Pride of Lancashire these days, were 2-0 down by the time we got the bins out. I believe they won in the end though, so well done to them. I’m sure if they are carrying the fortunes of the whole county they must have deserved it. They might have even been superior on the day.
There were people to chat to from our station on Ormerod Road , although we did fail to get any donations from the local police, and scores to keep a check on as well as the Burnley team news that came through around 4:30. No Chris Wood; expected but a blow. Ashley Barnes was back as was Jack Cork with Robbie Brady dropping to the bench and Jeff Hendrick shifting back onto the right hand side.
Although we were hours away from the clocks going back, to signal that winter is on its way, the temperatures had certainly dropped in readiness while the Premier League had dusted down its yellow balls for the occasion.
It all started quite well for us. There seemed to be no adverse reaction to our defeat last week and we gave Chelsea a difficult opening period which really only came to an end when we gave them our first gift, namely the opening goal. Matt Lowton, I think, might have been confused by James Tarkowski’s redirecting point, but by giving the ball away cheaply he allowed Christian Pulisic a run at goal. Tarkowski did push him wide but he still got in a shot past the pair and Ben Mee to beat Nick Pope and give them the lead.
What a response from the Clarets. Within a minute, Tarkowski had played Barnes in down the right, but with players waiting, his touch twice wasn’t good enough and the chance went begging, as did two more from his own head. The first of them was difficult but the second, when he was found by a brilliant head back by Mee, was as simple a chance as you are likely to get. Then Erik Pieters saw Kepa save his deflected shot as we continued to put them under some real pressure.
But it came to nothing and right on half time it was Tarkowski’s turn to give the ball away to Pulisic. This time he got some good fortune with his shot deflecting off Mee but that meant, for a second week in succession, we’d conceded a crucial goal in the last minute of the first half.
On the balance of play, there is no way we deserved to be in that position, but we’d given two soft goals away and failed to take our chances and that’s what you get at any level of football when you aren’t good enough at either end of the pitch.
Despite that, we started the second half so well with Barnes again landing the one big chance although it wasn’t as easy as it might have looked as the ball came from behind him making it difficult to get a good strike of the ball. Jay Rod shot straight at the goalkeeper and you sensed we might not be getting back into it.
It wasn’t just that, we only went and conceded two more goals and ended the whole thing as any sort of contest. We half cleared a corner but when the ball came back in it was far too easy for Pulisic to complete his hat trick with an easy header and two minutes later Willian got his name on the scoresheet. I thought Pope might have done better with this one, but having seen it again I’ll retract that although Pieters didn’t cover himself in glory.
There was less than an hour gone and I feared the worst to be honest. They’d already equalled last season’s score in this fixture and there was every chance they would get more. That fourth goal was also a cue for a lot of people to leave the ground. It wasn’t quite as early or with quite the speed we’d seen at Southampton the night before but 4-0 was more than enough for many of our fans.
To be honest, I’d have been quite happy for Michael Oliver to blow his whistle at that point once we were left with nothing much to play for and for the most part it was a difficult watch. Matěj Vydra came on for the disappointing Barnes but for some time he was up front in a bizarre looking formation that had seen Rodriguez go out onto the right.
I’ve done my own VAR, I’ve looked at it as much as I can and there is absolutely no doubt there is no touch on him from Tarkowski but there is the slightest of touches into Hudson-Odoi’s back by Lowton. However, the Chelsea player looks to be on his way down before that touch so for me the decision to rescind the penalty is correct as is Oliver’s showing of the yellow card. The Chelsea player dived. I was wondering if this is what they meant last season by their anti-football claims but, remember, it was David Luiz who led those claims and he’d took a dive that night.
No penalty, no fifth goal, but the last few minutes did bring some respectability to the scoreline with Robbie Brady coming on and getting a couple of assists in his short cameo. He won the ball, from Pulisic, in his own half and then played a couple of passes with Rodriguez who, from 30 yards or more, hit home a sensational shot. At first I thought Kepa might have done better but the dip on the ball really did leave the Chelsea goalkeeper helpless.
Three minutes later and it was 4-2. Brady was involved again a couple of times and he played the pass to McNeil whose effort was deflected in. Suddenly the Burnley fans still in there were getting excited. There were still some six or more minutes to play but there was to be no sensational comeback, just a 4-2 defeat that looks somewhat better than 4-0.
It’s difficult to judge the performance. We played some good football and created some chances, but it is all about putting the ball in the net and we weren’t good enough in stopping Chelsea from doing that and neither were we good enough to do it ourselves until those final minutes. Having said that, we will play worse than that overall and win games this season.
Hopefully Wood will be fit for next week. I really do think we miss him when he’s out of the side, and our trip to Bramall Lane gives us an opportunity to put these defeats, against the teams currently third and fourth, behind us.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jeff Hendrick (Robbie Brady 84), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Ashley Barnes (Matěj Vydra 63). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon.
Yellow Cards: Jeff Hendrick, Erik Pieters, Robbie Brady.
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori, Marcos Alonso (Reece James 63), Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Mason Mount, Willian (Callum Hudson-Odoi 72), Tammy Abraham (Olivier Giroud 70), Christian Pulisic. Subs not used: Willy Caballero, Pedro, Marc Guehi, Michy Batshuayi.
Yellow Cards: Willian, Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
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