Chelsea returned from their trip to Turf Moor on Saturday with a victory over Burnley to book another three points and push up the ladder in the Premier League table, plunging the hosts deeper into crisis in the process.
Burnley took the lead in the 15th minute through Wilson Odobert, but their happiness didn’t even reach halftime as an own-goal from Ameen Al-Dakhil set the score back level three minutes before the break. Cole Palmer netted his first goal for Chelsea in the 50th minute and Raheem Sterling increased their lead in the 65th, before Nicolas Jackson put the final touch on the game in the 74th.
Sterling runs the show
It was clear from the start that Sterling would be Chelsea’s main attacking threat in this game. The former Liverpool and Manchester City winger was frequently in the centre of things, constantly asking for the ball with smart positioning and taking opponents on. Playing mostly on the left, his only problem was that Armando Broja, who started in the central attacking role, and Palmer on right, didn’t always provide him with the support he needed when facing Burnley’s numbers at the back.
Nonetheless, Sterling was heavily involved in everything good Chelsea did upfront on Saturday, including all four goals. It was his ball that forced Al-Dakhil into putting the ball in his own net, it was him who was brought down by Burnley right-back Vitinho inside the box for Palmer’s penalty, he scored the third goal himself, and it was him who broke like lightning down the left and found Palmer on the far post, before the other ex-City man set Jackson up for the fourth.
Once a talented Liverpool prospect, Sterling won four Premier League titles with City before joining Chelsea last summer, and it was that kind of experience and winning mentality that he was expected to bring to Stamford Bridge. It may have taken a little while, but at the ripe age of 28, Sterling obviously has a lot of top-level football left and will surely be one of the main ingredients in any success the Blues may achieve over the next couple of years.
Chelsea upturn in form hardly surprising
Chelsea’s start to the season was extremely underwhelming. They won just one of their opening six league games, and that against newly promoted Luton Town. Now, however, they’ve added another two triumphs on the trot, having beaten Fulham at Craven Cottage on Tuesday before the Turf Moor trip.
Scoring goals has mostly been their problem, rather than overall team performances, but it cost them dearly – they couldn’t capitalize on their domination on the pitch on a number of occasions. It led to some scathing losses, particularly the ones against Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa at home, as well as a goalless draw away to Bournemouth and a 3-1 defeat to West Ham at the London Stadium.
But things had to click for them eventually. It stands to reason to expect a club that spent so much money on reinforcements over the last 15 months and brought in a proven top-level manager in Mauricio Pochettino to get their affairs on the pitch in order sooner or later. It probably took longer than many would’ve expected, and they now have plenty of ground to make up for in the race against their rivals, but it looks like they’re finally in it.
Let’s see where it takes them in the end.
Burnley dominated the Championship with ease last season, but just like many teams that have moved between the top two tiers of English football over the last couple of years, they felt the difference in quality between them keenly.
Manager Vincent Kompany, another former Manchester City man, wants his team to play possession-based football, just like City have been playing for a very long time now. He has obviously learned a few “tricks” from Pep Guardiola and that’s exactly how Burnley played in the Championship, but that’s obviously not possible for the Clarets in the Premier League. Therefore, Komany has had to make some adjustments to his system, and have Burnley revert to something closer to what they did for a long time under Sean Dyche – a stronger defensive setup, and attacking ideas based on long balls and quick transition.
That kind of change takes time to put into effect with success, and if Chelsea can be understood to have taken time to click properly, Burnley can too, arguably even more.
Whether it turns out right for Kompany and his men or not in the end, remains to be seen. But for the time being, there are obviously a lot of things to sort out.
Odobert and Mike Trssor Ndayishimiye on the wings will obviously play a big part in that. Their pace and talent should be an important part of Burnley’s transitional attacking play in matches to come, and they’ve shown glimpses of that against Chelsea. Apart from scoring the opening goal, 18-year-old Odobert gave quite a lot of trouble to Chelsea’s auxiliary right-back Marc Cucurella, setting Tresor up for a chance that could’ve resulted in Burnley’s early lead being doubled quickly and the game going in a different direction. This time, however, it wasn’t to be.
As things stand at the moment, the Clarets are still in the relegation zone, sitting 18th with just four points, while Chelsea’s victory saw them move slightly up to 11th, with 11 points to show for their season efforts so far.
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