Burnley vs Chelsea
As Premier League games go, a trip to Turf Moor has been one of the toughest assignments outside of the top six in recent seasons.
With Chelsea missing arguably the best player in the world at the moment, Eden Hazard – shining for both club and country – after suffering a back injury, this seemed a potential banana skin for the west Londoners without their top scorer and talisman.
Yet in the end it was no Hazard, no problem!
Highlights of the game
Joe Hart shows disappointment against Chelsea after ending their clash in a clean sheet
It only takes a second to score a goal and the outcome was never in doubt from the moment the 2017 champions took the lead.
Willian’s fine shot had curled against the base of Joe Hart’s post a moment earlier but Chelsea were not deterred and within 60 seconds Ross Barkley played through Alvaro Morata who showed that his confidence is slowly returning by toe-poking the ball past the former England shot-stopper.
Manager Maurizio Sarri was on his way to becoming the first Chelsea boss to remain unbeaten in his first 10 Premier League matches in charge.
It took until 12 minutes after the restart for the visitors to make their superiority count but make it count they did with two goals inside five minutes.
First Barkley, who rescued a point for his side late on last weekend, produced a curling 25 yard shot.
Then he claimed his second assist of the match to set up Willian who this time beat the helpless Hart and the post with a superb curling finish.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his fourth goal in two days in the second minute of stoppage time with a left-footed effort to sum up Burnley’s miserable day.
It would have been more had Hart not tipped a header from substitute Olivier Giroud onto the bar also.
Sean Dyche’s side – who welcomed back Robbie Brady for the first time since he suffered a knee tendon injury last December – stay 14th but should not be concerned by the manner in which they were beaten – the gulf in resources between these two clubs was reflected in the scoreline.
Indeed, Burnley have not beaten Chelsea at Turf Moor since a 3-0 second tier victory in April 1983 and the Premier League 2018 betting odds on a repeat were always bordering on the highly unlikely.
Meanwhile, Barkley is now showing signs of form that persuaded the club to part company with £15 million for his services earlier this year and he is fast producing some of the Premier League 2018 highlights.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in their opening 10 top-flight games for only the fifth time, a run that includes their title-winning seasons of 2005-06 and 2014-15.
On both occasions they didn’t lose a match until the 12th and 14th league matches respectively.
The side is now up to second spot – for 24 hours at least –and maybe, just maybe – Sarri has helped the club rediscover its mojo which it seemed to lose, despite FA Cup success, in the final months of his predecessor Antonio Conte’s regime.
As both Conte and Jose Mourinho, their boss during those title winning years, can testify, it’s when the going gets tough that some players seemed to go missing.
But, so far, Sarri has injected positivity into life at Stamford Bridge and has the results to back that up.
He can do no more than that.
Burnley last beat Chelsea at home in the top flight in 1973 thanks to a goal from Frank Casper.
Burnley’s 3-2 victory at Chelsea on the opening day of last season is their only triumph in 25 Premier League matches against the established top-six teams.
Chelsea’s only defeat in nine Premier League games against Burnley was that 3-defeat (won seven, drawn two).
Chelsea have kept only three clean sheets in their 36 top-flight away matches against Burnley, in goalless draws in 1963 and 1970.
The Blues are the only Premier League side yet to fall behind in an away match this season.
Ten of their 23 league goals this season have been scored in the final 15 minutes of matches.
Barkley has now scored in three successive league games for Chelsea, the first Englishman to do so since Frank Lampard in February 2013.
Top of Form
It’s back-to-back away games coming up for Sean Dyche’s side.
Burnley travel to their Claret counterparts next weekend in the Premier League.
They face West Ham (November 3) before visiting Leicester City a week later.
Chelsea face four matches, three at Stamford Bridge over the next fortnight.
The League Cup match against Derby and then home EPL fixtures against Crystal Palace and Everton which are sandwiched by a visit to Belarusian minnows BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
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