No answer to Chelsea
In 1978 Elvis Costello recorded I don’t want to go to Chelsea and to be honest it felt like that at times yesterday as they simply tore us apart to equal our second worst Premier League result under Sean Dyche.
Admittedly we didn’t play well, particularly in the first half, but I’m not so sure we would have had too much in us to stop the home side who I thought played as well as I’ve ever seen a side play against us in the Premier League. They might not have hit the heights of that little first half spell at Turf Moor two years ago but over the ninety minutes this team looked exceptional.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte singled out Eden Hazard for special praise. He certainly played well but it seems almost unfair given the performances of N’Golo Kante, and what a player he looked as I saw him live for the first time, and Nemanja Matic, the villain of the piece two years ago but the orchestrator of so much for Chelsea yesterday. Add the likes of Oscar and Willian and it sort of highlights the gulf between the two sides that Dyche spoke about.
It was our first away day in the Premier League of the season and it was the first time we returned home from an away Premier League game with a defeat since the 1-0 game at West Ham two seasons ago when Jon Moss ruined the whole affair with a shocking decision to dismiss Michael Duff. Mark Clattenburg certainly didn’t ruin this one; his performance yesterday was as good as you are likely to see from a referee.
It was the train for us yesterday which meant a slightly later start than usual for a London game and certainly a much earlier return home. There was a time when a train that actually kept to the schedule was almost big news, but it was all perfectly on time yesterday even if I was the only member of our group who thought it a good idea to stay awake both going and coming home.
The ODI between England and Pakistan was taking place at Lord’s yesterday and London gave us weather much more suited to cricket than football, so the air conditioned pub stop for lunch was appreciated. That was followed by a stifling journey on the underground to Fulham Broadway.
Stamford Bridge is a hell of a place to try to get in to. I’ve never seen so many stewards and I reckon they spend more money in employing them for one fixture than we do in a transfer window. The countless ticket checks, both in and out of the ground, becomes a bit tiresome.
Perched up in the corner at the Shed End, we received the news that Dyche had made ten changes to his line up; that’s one in the eye for people who think he always names the same team. That’s twenty team changes in a week for us. Of course, he was just returning the team to how it had been for the league win against Liverpool and we had the same seven players on the bench.
Sam Vokes and Andre Gray both scored their first ever Premier League goals last week. Looking around the team, I don’t think we’ve chalked up too many top flight goals collectively, but one Burnley supporter sat not too far behind me yesterday can claim a total of 79 goals for Burnley, all in the old First Division, and not only that, two hat tricks at Stamford Bridge. That’s Jimmy Robson who scored all three in a 3-1 win at Chelsea in February 1959 and added another hat trick against them in a 6-2 win there in October 1960.
It was good to see Jimmy at the game and it was also good that Chelsea took advantage of this being the first game between the clubs since the sad passing of Ian Britton. The announcement before kick off brought praise from all areas of the stadium.
Jimmy Robson might have scored two hat tricks there but there was to be no 3-1 or 6-2 win, or any sort of victory, this time once we had fallen behind in just the ninth minute of the game. We made a major contribution to the goal by giving the ball away far too easily just inside the Chelsea half. There was some inevitability about it all once Hazard started to make his run forward.
We’d sort of done alright up to that point, but the rest of the first half was difficult to watch as Chelsea took total control for much of it. I was just thinking that if we could go in just a goal down at half time we’d have got away with it, but then, four minutes before the break we conceded again through Willian.
Almost immediately we had our best chance of the game when Scott Arfield, in a similar position as Willian was for their second, fired narrowly wide and we went in with a two goal deficit that might have been worse.
Nothing much changed in the second half and we were thankful to Tom Heaton more than once for keeping it at 2-0 before Sean Dyche decided to change things. Off came the ineffective pair of Arfield and Steven Defour, replaced by Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Aiden O’Neill.
There was little change to be fair and then we hit crisis when Dean Marney had to be replaced. One 18-year old midfielder had already come, who next? David Jones was busy getting sent off for Sheffield Wednesday and Fredrik Ulvestad, although at Stamford Bridge, had a watching brief. On came central defender James Tarkowski.
We did, in fairness, have a little five minute spell in which there were a couple of occasions when I thought we might pull one back. That would have made things interesting but once minute 81 passed it was all over although we could have done without that third goal right at the end from their substitute Victor Moses.
Tarkowski committed a foul but referee Clattenburg played an advantage and Chelsea broke quickly to score that third before Tarky was yellow carded. Only a further good save from Heaton prevented a fourth.
We’d been well beaten and I honestly believe it had more to do with how good they were rather than how disappointing we were. Our season will not stand or fall on our performances against the likes of Chelsea. Anything we get from this kind of game is a bonus but there were no bonus points here.
Chelsea really were superb. I’m not sure what we could have done to prevent it but I don’t think it is the best idea to end a game like this with a teenager and a central defender making a Premier League debut as your central defensive pairing. It really does show the state of our recruitment. We have days to put it right to avoid a third successive Premier League window disaster.
By the end, Heaton had kept the score down. It was hard at times watching it but I’d rather be doing that than losing at home to Fulham and being stuck at the bottom of the league below with a bullshitting manager running the team.
You see it’s not all bad – we’ve got a few important days and then a week off from the football as the internationals cause the first break. However we play next time out, our opponents Hull will not be as good as Chelsea; they’ll not come close to it.
The teams were;
Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, Willian (Victor Moses 77), Oscar, Nemanja Matic, Eden Hazard (Pedro 81), Diego Costa (Michy Batshuayi 80). Subs not used: Asmir Begovic, Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ola Aina.
Yellow Cards: Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Dean Marney (James Tarkowski 72), Steven Defour (Aiden O’Neill 57), Scott Arfield (Johann Berg Gudmundsson 57), Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Yellow Cards: Michael Keane, James Tarkowski.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
Attendance: 41,607.Follow UpTheClarets:
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