Playing against another team known to sit deep and defend compact, Chelsea’s second game under Thomas Tuchel would provide interesting insight on how the new manager would fair against such sides in the league.
In the last game against Wolves, the Blues failed to score a goal, settling for a 0-0 draw. In what seemed to be a similar game, Tuchel opted to retain his chosen 3-4-2-1 formation in the first match, with a few changes in the side.
Starting Line-up: Mendy; Rüdiger, Silva, Azpilicueta (C), Hudson-Odoi (Out 72′), Jorginho, Kovačić, Alonso, Werner, Mount (Out 80′), Abraham (Out 45′)
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Kanté, Havertz (In 80′), Pulisic (In 45′), Zouma, Chilwell, James (In 72′), Giroud
The first 15 minutes started scrappy, with no real spells of strong possession. Burnley decided to pressure the Blues a bit, before beginning to settle a bit deeper in their side. In the 7th minute Timo Werner cut in from the left flank and played a great pass to Mount on the left side of the box who took a shot but couldn’t hit the target.
Afterwards, Thiago Silva had a crucial interception in our box for an opportunity that was breaking for Burnley, one of many chances Silva cut out in the game. However, the first real chance didn’t come until the 20th minute or so.
Mateo Kovačić played a quick 1-2 pass with Jorginho which allowed him to evade the opposition press and play a ball into the box for Callum Hudson-Odoi to run onto for a shot.
However, the pass lacked pace and as a result Odoi was unable to make much of the opportunity as he cut inside to shoot instead of hitting the shot first time.
Outside of this opportunity, Chelsea struggled to create all too much in the first 20 minutes of the match. With clear struggles in the final third, breaking down Burnley proved to be difficult.
The next chance came from a Jorginho ball over the top of the defensive line around the 24th minute. Alonso made a back post run as Jorginho played a ball for Alonso to get his head onto.
Unfortunately, Alonso’s headed effort was placed towards the back post, a bit too far for both Tammy and Mount to get onto, and resulted in a goal kick once again representing the lack of quality of final balls and touches in the opponent’s box.
However, Callum Hudson-Odoi was clearly a focal point in the build-up from the back to progress the ball quickly. In addition, he was deployed to run at the defense and leverage his creativity to make opportunities for the team. Around the 28th minute, Odoi drove with the ball from the right flank and played in a ball to the feet of Timo Werner with pace. Werner was unable to control the ball for a shot which ended up squandering the chance for the team.
Once again, the decisiveness and ability of the team particularly in the final third, struggled throughout the half. Organizationally the team seemed settled, however the feeling was uneasy when attacking in terms of the approach and quality. Nothing seemed to be going for the Blues in terms of resulting in any dangerous chances created, until just before half-time.
Chelsea’s goal resulted from a wonderful counter attack with speed and directness. The team had a throw-in in their own half which was received by Jorginho, who immediately turned to play Mount running into space and looking to progress the ball.
In front of Mount running down the right flank was none other than Hudson-Odoi, who received the ball from Mount and progressed it into the box. Subsequently, Azpilicueta made the overlapping run into the box from the right centre half position to support.
Odoi drove in drawing defenders and laid off the ball to Azpilicueta who had acres of space to take a shot from inside the box.
Azpilicueta caught the ball perfectly and generated too much power for Pope to react quick enough as the ball hit the back of the net for the game’s opening goal. The goal proved to be a huge turning point as Burnley were now down just before half.
Overall the half was decent, and the great counter attack the Blues scored from made up for other forgone opportunities. However, it was clear Chelsea could improve in possession when breaking down the low block, with a better understanding between the players and their approach, as well as better end product.
Going into the second-half, refining and improving on the positives of the first-half was the goal and that was the theme for the remainder of the game. Tuchel opted for a change at half-time, as he subbed off Tammy Abraham for Christian Pulisic, moving Timo Werner to the central striker position.
The team was playing better in possession and creating more chances this half down the right flank with once again, Callum Hudson-Odoi being the focal point. Early on in the second half, Odoi received the ball and began to drive at the Burnley backline.
Odoi created space for himself for a shot, and took his opportunity in the box. The shot however, deflected off of the defender, and clipped the outside of the near post and went out for a goal kick.
At about the 68th minute or so, Odoi again was involved in the attack. Being played down line by Mount, Odoi got on the end of the pass and played a driven cross on the ground in front of the face of the goal.
However, Burnley defender Ben Mee attempted to block the cross, which proved to be almost fatal for his side as he gets very close to putting the ball into his own net.
After having deflected the cross, the ball deflect on target which required the excellent reach and reactions of Nick Pope, who kept his side in the game and the score at 1-0.
Before getting subbed off in the 72nd minute, Odoi was involved in one last passage of play. Mount again, linked up with Odoi, and played him a pass on the flank. Odoi received the ball and noticed Pulisic looking for the cut back in space inside the box. He played Pulisic in with an excellent pass, who just steered his shot wide right of the Burnley goal.
Odoi went off in the 72nd minute and went on to win man of the match, as Reece James replaced him for the rest of the game. With Rudiger and Kovačić constantly looking for diagonal switch balls to Odoi, he was clearly the focal point of attack for the game.
As a result, Odoi ended with 64 touches throughout the game all down the right hand side, proving to be the most threatening player for the Chelsea side this game.
After this point, the game seemed to be in cruise control. Reece James had an opportunity around the 74th minute just after coming on, with a volley from the right side of the box. Pope however made a good save with his legs, and was careful not to spill the shot for another opportunity in the box.
As the game pushed on, Burnley began to push further out of their half in hopes of getting an equalizer, as they were still down 1-0. However, around the 84th minute, Chelsea scored their second goal to bury any hope for Burnley to salvage a point from the game.
Antonia Rudiger broke into the midfield with the ball, and laid it off to Alonso who played Pulisic down line.
Pulisic cut on the edge of the box, while Alonso made a run into the box. He chipped in a cross to Alonso who controlled it in the air and turned for a great volley from a tight angle.
Alonso’s shot hit off the crossbar and went in, leaving no chance for Pope to save the shot. Alonso’s goal put the Blues up 2-0 and the game ended this way.
Results and Implications
With the win today and other results around the league, Chelsea have moved to 7th in the table, level on points with 6th place Spurs and 8th place Everton. With the title race looking to be out of reach for the Blues, top 4 is the priority for the club as they sit 6 points off Leicester City in 4th, who lost to Leeds today.
Next week, Chelsea travel to White Hart Lane to play London rivals Tottenham Hotspur who are level on points but have a game in hand over Chelsea. This means their game on Thursday is even more crucial than just beating rivals, it has greater implications on the race for top 4.