VAR no help as Clarets go down to defeat at Chelsea
When the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge to signal our 3-0 defeat against Chelsea, we looked a well beaten side as we left the field at the end of a fourth successive Premier League defeat.
Overall, we can have no complaints at the result, particularly after our second half performance, but it really doesn’t tell the whole story of a game when, on another day, we’d have scored a goal ourselves and neither of Chelsea’s first two would have counted.
Jeff Hendrick had a goal disallowed for offside against Ben Mee with the score at 0-0. Was he offside? Firstly, I’ll accept that without the appalling VAR, this goal would not have counted because the assistant referee had flagged it offside. But we do have VAR, it provided, as far as I can see, no evidence to suggest an offside but still went with the original decision.
Then came goal number one. Matt Lowton had no need to go to ground and there was contact with Willian. Referee Kevin Friend delayed for some time before pointing to the spot. Let’s get it right here, Willian has instigated the contact and that decision should surely have been overturned. It wasn’t and Jorginho scored from the spot.
I didn’t think we were playing too badly to be fair. We then had an effort cleared off the line and Dwight McNeil saw his free kick well saved by Kepa. Had we been able to keep it to 1-0 at half time then maybe we could have got something. We didn’t. Reece James crossed, Tammy Abraham headed it and I’m not sure what Nick Pope was doing as he let it go past him and into the net. Clearly, though, Abraham and pushed James Tarkowski which prevented him from defending the cross. VAR, so wrongly in my view, again back the officials and we were 2-0 down.
When McNeil allowed Callum Hudson-Odoi to go past him and scored from close range early in the second half, it was simply game over and so there were no need for Jose Mourinho type rantings or David Luiz type accusations because they’d got the points.
Other than that, it was a good day out as we took advantage of the new Avanti West Coast trains for the first time. They are simply Virgin without the Virgin logos, nothing else has changed but it was a trouble free journey into London, lunch at our favoured pub and then the trip to Chelsea via the underground.
We knew we were depleted and everyone who might miss the game did miss the game and that left us with and we started with the 4-4-1-1 system we played effectively two seasons ago with Hendrick, who I thought was as good as anyone bar possibly Ben Mee, in that advanced midfield role.
We had five defenders on the bench alongside Joe Hart and Matěj Vydra which showed just how stretched we were and Chelsea started like a house on fire for a few minutes as they won a few corners. Then we got into the game, got the goal I’m certain should have counted and looked more than OK.
But referees or not, VAR or not, you can’t make the mistakes Lowton and Pope made at any level and it was those mistakes that ultimately cost us. Even so, when that half time whistle blew, I just didn’t believe we deserved to be two goals down.
There’s little to write about the second half. We conceded that early goal and it was game over. We didn’t offer any real threat to get back into the game to be honest but once three behind at a place like this then it is very difficult as we’ve seen before.
From our point of view, the only notable thing was the constant cheering of Vydra when he warmed up and the roar of approval that greeted his arrival into the game, astonishingly for Hendrick. It was so clearly all aimed at Sean Dyche who, as we know, rarely plays Vydra who has now gone fifteen months since he last started a Premier League game.
Eventually the final whistle brought the inevitable result but I still look back at the first half when I remain convinced we were harshly treated by the officials and VAR. The aforementioned Mourinho suggested they’d gone off for coffee when he perceived they’d missed things at Spurs. Maybe that’s what they were doing when decisions needed to be made at Chelsea. It really is not football anymore is it?
The journey home was as easy and comfortable as it was going and I was home, with no Up the Clarets to worry about (sadly) and ready for Match of the Day who, obviously, offered us no justice although Tony Gale did on the Sky coverage.
We do need to get out of this run, that’s for certain. It will help when we get some players fit and it would help if there wasn’t quite so much negativity coming out of the club right now. It’s not long since we looked in a really strong position in the league. We aren’t now but having seen Norwich, Bournemouth and Aston Villa this weekend there are certainly still more than just a few crumbs of comfort.
Now it’s Leicester who won last time at Burnley – let’s go and get some points against them and let’s get ourselves moving forward again.
The teams were;
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Reece James, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rüdiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ross Barkley, Jorginho, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Willian. Subs not used: Willy Caballero, Pedro, Kurt Zouma, Mateo Kovacic, Michy Batshuayi, Fikayo Tomori, Emerson.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jeff Hendrick (Matěj Vydra 73), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Erik Pieters, Ali Koiki, Matěj Vydra.
Yellow Cards: Dwight McNeil, Ashley Westwood, Aaron Lennon.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
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