After a 1-1 away draw against PSG in the midweek fixture of UCL Round of 16 1st leg, JoseMourinho’s side hosted 19th placed Burnley at Stamford Bridge for the 26th round of Premier League fixtures.
All our regular starters were there in the starting line-up, except for new signing Cuadrado replacing Willian at right mid, along with Oscar and Eden Hazard at centre and left attacking midfielders respectively. Fabregas and Matic started as the two defensive midfielders, with Thibaut Courtois starting under the bars.
Let’s get on with Initial Reaction and Analysis:
-The game kicked off well on time. Against a Burnley side which is said to play much better than the what the points table shows, it was a slow start from Chelsea as we had no good chance on goal, except for Diego Costa’s header going just above the crossbar in the 4th minute.
-It was Burnley who got the first corner of the game and had a good chance on a goal within the first minutes on the game. Making it difficult for us to keep possession, they looked equally good on counters in the first 10 minutes.
-12 minutes into the game, Chelsea had their first corner but couldn’t produce anything much as the Burnley defence looked good enough to break our momentum.
-Then came the moment when our hero from the PSG game, Branislav Ivanovich, broke the deadlock by putting the home team ahead in the 14th minute. Eden Hazard produces a beautiful cross from right by beating 4 Burnley defenders, after Juan Cuadrado had done well to keep the ball with us by winning it back from a Burnley defender, near the corner flag. Chelsea 1-0 Burnley!
-The crowd was not allowed to settle for long as in the next minute Oscar had a shot on goal by cutting inside from left which was saved by goalkeeper Tom Heaton, after Eden Hazard displaying his usual dribbling skills, created the ball for the Brazilian.
-The next fifteen minutes saw both the teams looking good going forward, but failed to produce any finishing. Burnley did well to break the Chelsea on 2 or 3 occasions, but couldn’t produce anything special to disturb Courtois.
-Branislav Ivanovich had yet another shot from outside the box in the 32nd minute, which was blocked by the Burnley defender but what seemed to be a clear handball inside the penalty box was denied by the referee, Martin Atkinson, after Chelsea’s appeal for the penalty.
-Another controversial decision by the ref came in the 44th minute, when Diego Costa was brought down by a deliberate push from one of Burnley’s defenders. Terrible decisions denied Chelsea two clear penalties and the chance of going 3-0 ahead in the first half itself. Still 1-0 at half time!
-The second half kicked off with no rea chance coming until the 5 minutes into the half when Burnley got a free-kick, but our Courtois made no mistake to make an amazing from an equally powerful shot on goal by one of Burnley’s men.
-Couple of crucial saves by Burnley GK Tom Heaton, came in the 53rd and 55th minute respectively. The first was after a corner when Heaton was at the right place and at the right time to deny from scoring from a close-range first touch shot. Another came 2 minutes later when Oscar did well to put Diego Costa through, but the Spaniard’s low shot was saved after he had had a nice first touch to receive the ball.
-The next few minutes saw Burnley’s defence doing good to stop us and dispossess Chelsea every time we led an attack. With such a promising play by the visitors, with and without the ball, a goal was sure to come anytime soon.
-Ashley Barne had done well for the visitors in the game, making shots on goal and being solid defensively, but had escaped many fouls. One such harsh challenge he made on Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic in the 70th minute saw Matic losing his cool. The Serbian was shown a red card and sent off immediately for his reaction, although it was not fair from the referee to let go off Barne for the challenge. Yet another display of the campaign against us!
-Ramires came on to replace Oscar in the 72nd minute. The Brazilian had yet another good game. Although he couldn’t get on the scoresheet, his crucial runs, chances created and through balls were a constant threat.
-As Burnley continued to take the numerical advantage over a 10-men Chelsea side, Courtois was involved in another handsome save when Ashley Barne had a good low shot on goal after receiving the ball form a Burnley corner in the 80th minute.
-A Burnley goal was expected to come and it did come in the 81st minute when Ben Mee’s header from yet another corner was enough to beat Courtois this time and the visitors ha now equalized by 1-1.
-Both the teams, even Burnley, didn’t look to settle for a draw and tried to clinch that winning goal and the result was some end-to-end stuff throughout the last ten minutes, with Burnley continuously dispossessing us in the midfield to try and reach the final third. Jose Mourinho, as a result, made an attacking substitution in quest of finding a winner by bringing on Didier Drogba for Filipe Luis in the 85th minute.
-The game went into a 4 minutes extra time, with neither of the sides producing anything special in the added time except for an easy save for each of the goalkeepers. Hing’s solo run from the middle of the field in the 94thminute, saw him hitting wide after Chelsea’s Ramires did well to to trace him back and making him hitting the shot in the wrong way.
-The full-time score thus read 1-1, with Chelsea missing out on the opportunity to go ten points clear of 2nd placed Manchester City who have a game in hand. Burnley being the away would be more satisfied with the result off-course. This was a perfect example of how a couple of wrong decisions by referee can affect a game, and another case of Jose’s men falling victims to poor refereeing.
-To end this on a positive note, we’ll still have a lead of at least 5 points over Man City even if the Citizens win their game, and surely come back stronger for the next fixture. Keep faith in Jose and the team. KTBFFH!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt