A Blue Up North reviews Chelsea’s Premier League match away to Burnley.
Chelsea traveled up to Lancashire on Saturday as they took on Burnley in their Premier League match at Turf Moor.
It is a tie that traditionally many look upon as an archetypal banana skin for bigger southern teams who won’t enjoy the weather and type of football they come up against.
However, The Blues were on a run of 5 consecutive away wins in all competitions and haven’t lost there since 1983. Add to that Burnley’s poor recent form against the “top 6” and Frank’s team traveled without too much trepidation.
Chelsea’s manager only made 1 change from the starting XI that were so impressive in the victory away to Ajax midweek. And what a significant change it proved to be as Christian Pulisic was given his first Premier League start since August as he replaced Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Sean Dyche was without key striker Chris Wood, but otherwise could name a fairly full strength side. And a win for the home side would have moved them up to 5th in the league, only 2 points below The Blues and above Arsenal.
And the first half was a relatively even affair. Ashley Barnes could have done so much better with his 3 chances at goal, while Kepa Arrizabalaga made a stunning save from Erik Pieters’s deflected strike.
But it was the 21 year old American who was the difference between the 2 sides. Pulisic took the match by the scruff of the neck and forced his pace and talent to take command.
After a quiet opening 20 minutes, Pulisic made the most of Lowton’s error on the halfway line. The winger’s run forward was full of pace, strength and maturity. He hesitated on the edge of the box in order to gain the yard that allowed him to rifle in with his left foot.
Then just before halftime, Willian won possession in midfield and Pulisic found himself in plenty of space. He reacted by a direct run towards the goal and once again gained a yard of space on the edge of the box. This time his right footed shot was deflected into the corner of the goal and Chelsea had a commanding lead.
It was fairly harsh on The Clarets, who were very much still in the match until then. However the second half saw the home side begin to fold as The Blues took full control.
Pulisic’s clever flicked header completed a perfect hat trick. Willian then rifled in a 4th and the Chelsea supporters chanted for their team to make it into double figures.
There was a little sting in the tail as the home side converted a wonder strike from distance and a hugely deflected shot to gain an amount of respectability, but this was a dominant victory for Frank’s team.
And the main difference between the 2 sides was Chelsea’s big signing. Christian Pulisic played early on in the season and showed glimpses of his talent but also needed to make adjustments as he adapted to the English Premier League.
Frank Lampard decided to rest him from playing duties whilst he concentrated on fitness and training. The end result is a player who not only has the talent and skill set, but enough tactical knowledge and the mind set to play so devastatingly direct.
His first 2 goals epitomised his style of play. He not only scored them but his directness all match made him unplayable. Add to that his clinical finishing and it was an outstanding performance overall.
But this was yet another great team victory. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were commanding in midfield while Mason Mount and Willian were also a threat.
Except for a short period late in the game, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori protected Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goal stoutly, while both full backs were constantly prepared to join in any attacks down the flanks.
Tammy Abraham had a relatively quieter match but he led the line very well against 2 experienced and robust central defenders.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue