13th of February 2017

Pedro strikes again as Blues are held in Turf Moor (1-1)

The Blues were held to a draw for the second away game running in the North-West, but the point was still enough to stretch our lead at the top of the table into double figures.

On a freezing, sleety Sunday afternoon in Lancashire, Pedro’s goal fired his side into an early lead but against the team with the third-best home record in the top flight and not at our very best, we did not build on that advantage and Burnley were level at half-time through a well-taken free-kick.

Thibaut Courtois was called upon to make a couple of important saves either side of half-time, with the remainder of the second period passing without clear opportunities for the Blues or the Clarets.

Antonio Conte's side, unsurprisingly unchanged from the impressive win over Arsenal, had no shortage of ball inside the Burnley half in the opening stages, and it was in the sixth minute the first opening was manufactured by a Diego Costa pass threaded through the heart of the home defence. Hazard was the recipient but his shot was relatively comfortable for Tom Heaton, unlike Pedro’s strike which opened the scoring just a minute later.

This time the attack originated from deep inside our own half. Hazard spread play out to Victor Moses and once the Nigerian had evaded a sliding challenge, Burnley were back-peddling fast and in trouble. Our right wing-back centred to Pedro who drifted wide of Michael Keane and scored with a precise shot across the keeper. It was his sixth goal in his past nine games.

It did not take long for the Clarets to have a couple of moments in response inside our penalty area but the Chelsea counter-attack threat today was looking promising.

Ashley Barnes skewed a shot wide for Burnley on 19 minutes before a loose touch from Diego Costa denied him the chance to have a pop at the target.

Midway through the half, Burnley were awarded the free-kick for a foul by Nemanja Matic from which they would equalise. Joey Barton and their January signing from Norwich, Robbie Brady, lined up behind it and it was Brady, left-footed, who curled it past the wall and beyond Courtois into the top left-hand corner. It was a very good strike and heralded a more even game for the rest of the first half.

Barnes, who back in 2015 had been responsible for a bad challenge at Stamford Bridge that lead to Matic’s angry reaction, caught Cesar Azpilicueta’s face with an arm as they went up for a high ball, with a free-kick alone the result - but this one was too far from goal for Chelsea to do damage.

Burnley would have taken the lead before the interval through full-back Matt Lowton had Courtois not made a save with his leg. Cahill also supplied a typical and important block when George Boyd shot powerfully.
Between those attempts on our goal, Pedro took the ball deep into our opponents’ half but Hazard was well policed when he received the Spaniard’s pass.

It was the first time since the defeat at Spurs we did not have the lead at half-time – a different type of team talk for Antonio Conte to give - and there could have been even more to do had Courtois not made a sharp save soon after the restart when first Cahill, and then David Luiz, had not dealt with the danger.

David Luiz unusually was playing with his hair tied back to guard against the icy damp and in such difficult conditions, it was not only defenders in blue who were caught out on occasions. Burnley’s Ben Mee was fortunate the space did not open for Diego Costa to shoot after he had gifted the ball to our centre-forward.

Two-thirds of the game were gone when Azpilicueta, seeing a large green space ahead of him, advanced and struck a shot from 30 yards out that did not clear the target by a great distance. However, attacking the end housing the travelling Chelsea support who had made it up north despite problematic trains and hazardous roads, we were still finding it tough to mount sustained pressure. Cesc Fabregas replaced Matic with just over 20 minutes to go with Willian on for Moses not long after.

Hazard failed to hit the target when a Burnley clearance was misplaced his way and Fabregas sliced a shot from a similar spot. Would a clear-cut chance be forthcoming?

Instead the closing minutes were punctuated more by yellow cards for both sides than shots on goal, so we had to settle for the draw. The result was certainly considered a success by the Burnley fans at the final whistle. Tottenham’s defeat at Anfield yesterday means we lead the chasing pack by 10 points, ahead of Man City's Monday game at Bournemouth and the Premier League then taking a break for FA Cup action next weekend

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic ( Fabregas 67), Alonso; Pedro (Batshuayi 87), Diego Costa, Hazard.
Unused subs Begovic, Zouma, Ake, Chalobah, Willian.

Scorer Pedro 7

Booked David Luiz 75, Fabregas 90.

Burnley (4-4-2): Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Boyd, Barton, Westwood, Brady (Arfield 64); Barnes, Gray (Vokes 82).

Unused subs Robinson. Flanagan, Tarkowski, Darikwa, Gudmundsson.

Scorer Brady 24

Booked Westwood 68, Lowton 77, Barton 88.

Referee Kevin Friend

- Match report by chelseafc.com


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