Chelsea vs Burnley
After a weekend of FA Cup football it’s back to the Premier League, and top four chasing Chelsea have a home game with Burnley to welcome them back.
Frank Lampard’s young team has rightly received plenty of praise as the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have stepped up superbly, and they currently sit in the fourth Champions League place.
Premier League; Chelsea vs Burnley should, on paper, result in another three points for the Blues but Stamford Bridge has been a happy hunting ground for the Clarets. The recent Chelsea vs Burnley results in London have yielded only two wins for the Blues in six attempts.
Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge Blues
There is another glimmer of hope for the Clarets in their opponents’ recent home form. On Boxing Day Chelsea were beaten 0-2 by improving Southampton, and in their previous home game they lost to Bournemouth, the Cherries only win in their last nine matches.
Lampard’s men did beat Aston Villa, but strugglers West Ham won at the Bridge at the end of November meaning the Blues have lost three from four at home, and all to bottom-half teams.
They have faired much better on the road though; Chelsea stormed back to win a Capital City clash with Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal recently, and Lampard’s team has a five-point cushion over fifth-placed Manchester United. But with Spurs and Arsenal now back in the hunt, SBOTOP football fans can look forward to a frenetic race to the Champions League line.
Clarets aren’t comfortable yet
From a relatively comfortable position in the top half of the table, a difficult Christmas period has seen the Clarets drop to within four points of the relegation zone. A late defeat to Everton at Goodison Park and a loss at home to Manchester United were bad enough for Burnley, but failing to beat Aston Villa on New Years Day began to sound alarm bells around Turf Moor.
Despite dominating possession at 62 per cent and winning the shot count by 20 to 11, the normally mean Clarets’ defence was strangely generous and their strikers were wasteful in front of goal.
Those three defeats were all by narrow margins (United scored a last-minute breakaway goal as Burnley pushed for an equaliser) and head coach Sean Dyche knows how to get his team to bounce back.
Realistically the Clarets need another four or five wins from the last 17 games to guarantee a fifth successive season in the Premier League.
Jay Rodriguez scored a late winner in a recent clash away to Bournemouth and he could start up front with eight-goal Chris Wood, while Ashley Barnes looks to regain fitness.
Kante can boss the midfield battle
While both Chelsea and Burnley have eye-catching players in both attack and defence, the midfield tussle will be an interesting one as N’Golo Kante and Jorginho come up against Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood. Kante was the most influential figure in Leicester City’s 2016 Premier League win, while Westwood has become the most important name on the Clarets’ team-sheet.
The former Aston Villa man has a real bite in the tackle, is calm on the ball and has a superb dead-ball delivery, but then Kante is a World Cup winner too, and alongside Jorginho should dominate the battle in the middle.
In their last meeting, an Autumn clash at Turf Moor, Chelsea ran out 2-4 winners in an entertaining match dominated by Christian Pulisic, who scored a brilliant hat-trick.
And both teams come into the game with three wins in the last six in all competitions.
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