Party night at Stamford Bridge as we hit 40 points
What a brilliant night it was at Chelsea as we held the team hoping to win a place in the Champions League to a 2-2 draw and then, not for the first time, had to put up with this distasteful club twisting things, this time not giving us a list of minute times but allowing one of their players, the diving David Luiz, to refer to us as the anti football.
It was a sensational start to the game with us taking the lead, going 2-1 behind and then equalising all within the first 24 minutes, and what followed was a really good battle that forced us into defending more and more in the closing stages and doing it wonderfully well to earn that point to take our total to 40 for the season, leaving even Sean Dyche almost admitting that we’d achieved a Premier League place for next season.
Sky and the Premier League decreed that we would have to travel to London on Easter Monday and kick off at 8 p.m. on a day when there were a lack of trains and disruptions on London Underground that ruled out the close by Fulham Broadway station.
We opted for a morning start by car and found our usual pub stop on the way for something to eat and drink. Mark, our hostelry finder, came up trumps with an establishment between Beaconsfield and Slough. We weren’t expecting to drive down country lanes and find it in the middle of nowhere but that was exactly the case and what a find. The food was outstanding and for those who like a drink or two, there was a beer festival offering a number of different beers.
Then it was off to Stamford Bridge, parking up and using the tube and walking the rest of the journey to the ground where that glorious 2017/18 season got underway some twenty months ago.
We were unchanged, as expected, with the same subs and Anthony Glennon, the under-23 left-back joining the squad as back up for the first time. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was passed fit and started the game; that was significant too.
On a warm night, albeit not quite as uncomfortable as it was at Olympiacos, Chelsea again decided to heat the place up with the ridiculous flames and fireworks as the teams came out to The Liquidator and it was good to see us playing in our home shirts.
What a start we got with Tom Heaton in the goal at our end. We’re perched in the corner close to where the aforementioned Hazard was operating and at times he looked sensational . We had one almighty scramble that saw Ashley Barnes get the ball away for a corner and then Ben Mee cleared one off the line.
Was it going to be a very difficult night I thought, but then things went our way when we won a corner on the right wing. Dwight McNeil’s flag kick was headed out by a defender under pressure from Mee but only as far as Jeff Hendrick just outside the box and he superbly volleyed the ball into the net and out of the reach of Kepa, the Chelsea goalkeeper.
A goal up again at Stamford Bridge but, unfortunately, the lead didn’t last anything like long enough. They were level within four minutes and went in front two minutes later. N’Golo Kanté scored the first but this one was pure brilliance from Hazard. I’m not sure what Matt Lowton could have done as he turned him one way and then the other before rolling the ball back for Kanté to fire home.
There was some misfortune with the second as Gonzalo Higuaín benefited from a touch of Mee but his angled shot had so much power, Tom Heaton was left with no hope.
At that point I have to admit that I was worried and feared we could take a hammering. Chelsea had started on fire and they looked as though they might have plenty of goals in them, but we settled down and rattled them with an equaliser.
David Luiz gave a free kick away which Ashley Westwood played into the box. Mee got round the back to head it across. Chris Wood just got a touch to it and there was Barnes to volley home from close range.
If anyone expected Chelsea to come storming back and regain their lead, it just didn’t happen and I don’t think Heaton was really called upon too much before the half time whistle which came just after Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi was withdrawn with what has now been confirmed as a serious injury, something I don’t think any of us would want to see. He has now undergone surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon and hopefully he’ll make a full and speedy recovery.
It might not have had the excitement of last season’s 3-0 half time lead, but there was a feeling that we could get something the game even though we knew Chelsea had the ability to turn it their way, particularly through Hazard.
What we did get after the break was a sensational second half from the Clarets. I think it is fair to say we didn’t get too many opportunities to attack but how well we defended. You could sense the frustration growing from the home side right around Stamford Bridge, from their players, staff and certainly from their fans.
As the game moved closer to the end so more defending we had to do. This was Burnley at their very best, getting blocks in, defending in numbers, and we did it so well there was only one occasion in the half when Heaton really had to make a save of any note.
The clock seemed to start moving more slowly but eventually we got to the ninety minutes to be greeted with the board showing five extra minutes. Chelsea seemed, for some reason, to think it should have been more, any fair person would have probably seen it as about right.
It got chaotic at one point. Maurizio Sarri decided he’d make a run down the touchline. I don’t know what was said but Kevin Friend sent him off. He still seemed to think he could return to where he should have been in the first place but fourth official Roger East quickly put him right and off he went.
We moved into a sixth minute, had a corner to defend but when we cleared it the final whistle went alongside a defiant roar from the away end as we celebrated a superb point. A clear jubilant Dyche came down applauding as it all kicked off by the tunnel. Antonio Rudiger seemed to be the instigator while Ben Gibson looked to be one of the peace makers. Bags of all kinds was how Dyche described it.
The players came over and it was becoming a carnival in the away end which then poured out into the area outside the exits as we left. This really had been a special performance from our players but we didn’t know at that point that the Chelsea propaganda machine was once more in operation.
It was on the tube that we came across two very objectionable home fans. “The FA needs to take action and ban Dyche and Barnes from football,” one of them said while the other said we were a disgrace to the game. Yes, Heaton, very harshly, had been carded for time wasting but other than that I just couldn’t work out why they were so angry, other than the fact that they hadn’t won the game. These two clowns must not have watched too much football and maybe I should have explained that the best way to waste time towards the end of the game is to break things up making substitutions; we didn’t make any.
It all became clear as we drove home listening to Talksport and we learned that David Luiz had described our play as being anti-football. He’s also heavily criticised the referee and his remarks, which astonishingly his club have published on their official website, will see him charged by the Football Association.
Anti-football? Cheating? Did Burnley fans consider it a waste of time going to the game to watch it? That’s what we were hearing. I think everyone who knows me knows that I’m fair but I’m very loyal to Burnley Football Club and I wasn’t having our name so very wrongly dragged through the Chelsea mud yet again so I phoned in and had my say.
It was like Mourinho’s minutes all over again and some of the comments I’ve seen from so called Chelsea fans on social media should surely be attracting the attention of the Metropolitan Police.
And I’ve returned home in the hope that one day Chelsea Football Club will improve their image. It might be some while though.
Just three to go, and some tough ones, but they we can summer and look forward to a fourth successive season in the Premier League. Now that does sound good.
The teams were;
Chelsea: Kepa, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Chistensen, David Luiz, Emerson, N’Golo Kanté (Mateo Kovacic ht), Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi (Pedro 41), Gonzalo Higuaín (Olivier Giroud 77) Eden Hazard. Subs not used: Willy Caballero, Gary Cahill, Davide Zappacosta, Ross Barkley.
Yellow Cards: Pedro, Mateo Kovacic.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.
Yellow Card: Tom Heaton.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
Jeff Hendrick’s goal last night took our total for the season to 43, beating the previous best in a Premier League season of 42 achieved in the 2009/10 season.
Our second goal scored by Ashley Barnes was also a record breaker. It was our 21st away goal this season in the Premier League, beating the previous best of 20 scored last season.
Last night was the sixth time we haven’t made a substitution in a Premier League game and the fourth time this season. It’s the first time we’ve made no changes during successive games having not made a substitution in last week’s win against Cardiff.
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