Opinion: Chelsea bring Burnley back down to earth with a bang as Clarets crumble at home yet again
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Having got the monkey off their back in their hard-earned victory at Luton, picking up their first three points of the campaign at the seventh attempt, the challenge off the back of that was to show they’ve made progress against the so-called bigger and better teams the Premier League has to offer.
Up to this point, it had been four home games, four defeats. Manchester City, Aston Villa, Tottenham and Manchester United had all been and gone, left Burnley pointless in the process and scored a collective 12 goals between them.
On this occasion, playing an unpredictable Chelsea side that had endured a stuttering start to the season, you felt this was the chance for Burnley to lay down a marker.
In terms of their performance, they arguably did that during the first-half, taking the lead through the bright 18-year-old Wilson Odobert, who scored on his first league start and generally keeping the visitors at arm’s length.
But once the Blues got back on level terms, as admittedly fortunate as their equaliser may have been, there was only going to be one winner. Burnley once again crumbled in front of their home fans and were ultimately well beaten.
As a result, their home record now reads five games, five defeats, 16 goals conceded.
Learning to deal with adversity
Vincent Kompany is right to highlight the difficulty of their fixtures. It won’t always be as demanding as this. But it can’t continue to be used as a convenient excuse.
The Clarets must find a way of staying in these games and make life as difficult as possible for their opponents. Not roll over and have their belly tickled as soon as they encounter some adversity.
Case in point, the manner of Chelsea’s leveller was incredibly fortunate. Mauricio Pochettino’s men had, up to that point, dominated possession, prodded and probed, but the Clarets were defending well and had limited the visitors to very little in the way of clear-cut opportunities.
But in Raheem Sterling, Chelsea had a player who Burnley failed to deal with all afternoon. Vitinho offered him one or two yards, which is all he needs, on too many occasions and Kompany’s ex-Man City teammate was only too happy to take full advantage.
Just as half-time was approaching, with Burnley leading thanks to Odobert’s clever strike, their one and only shot on target of the half, Sterling was again fed the ball down the left flank. Vitinho backpedalled and backpedalled, allowing the England star to deliver a cross into the box.
Now this is where Burnley were unlucky, because Sterling’s ball in took a wicked deflection off Ameen Al-Dakhil’s thigh, which took it up and over James Trafford and into the back of the net.
Okay, it was a kick in the you-know-what, but you have to regroup, refocus and go again. Instead, Burnley absolutely collapsed.
Within two minutes of the restart, Vitinho was again at fault as he wiped out Sterling right on the edge of the box. Referee Stuart Atwell adjudged the challenge to have taken place inside the box and subsequently pointed to the spot, with Cole Palmer sending his England Under-21 teammate Trafford the wrong way to put Chelsea in front.
For the next five to 10 minutes, Burnley lost all composure and completely lost their way. Passes were going astray and Chelsea were pouncing on every mistake. There were plenty of them too.
Vitinho made way for Connor Roberts, but the problem persisted. That problem being Sterling, who added a third with an emphatic finish after being afforded far too much space down the left once again.
Substitute Nicolas Jackson added gloss to Chelsea’s victory with their fourth and final goal. Once again Sterling was involved in the build-up.
That was the cue for many supporters to head for the exits. They knew there was no route back for their side.
Give yourself a chance
What this defeat proves, along with the other four setbacks at Turf Moor, is that Burnley have got to have a bit more about them. They can’t be so brittle when the going gets tough.
These quality sides are going to have spells where they dominate, that much is obvious. But Burnley have got to find a way to stand up to it and make the opposition work for their three points, not hand them over gift-wrapped.
No-one expects Burnley to go out there and beat Man City like Wolves did the other week, but every now and then you need the odd draw. With luck on your side you might be able to salvage a victory too.
But Burnley aren’t even giving themselves a chance at this moment in time, they’re simply not staying in games. Taking zero points from five home games only serves to add extra pressure to their other fixtures.
Thankfully, after the international break, Burnley’s fixture list begins to look a little kinder, with games against Brentford, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace next up.
Having taken their four points from Nottingham Forest and Luton, Burnley have already shown they can pick up points against sides you’d expect to be in and around their vicinity this season.
In an ideal world, they’d compliment that with the odd result against a top side, ideally at home. But on this evidence, the Clarets are some way off achieving that.