Chelsea and John Terry end on high as five-star Blues demolish Sunderland 5-1

Match Summary

Chelsea round off the title-winning season, and John Terry’s career at Stamford Bridge, in emphatic style with a 5-1 demolition of bottom-of-the-table Sunderland.

The Blues, knowing that if they won they would become the first Premier League side to ever win 30 matches in a 38-game season, fell behind early but re-grouped through Willian, Hazard and Pedro before Batshuayi put the icing on the cake with an injury-time brace late on.

It was the perfect ending to the season, with the Blues finishing on 93 points, as the division’s second-highest goalscorers and Courtois the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets, as Cahill and Terry both jointly lifted the Premier League trophy.

But the headlines will be dominated by the romantic farewell for Chelsea’s captain, John Terry, making his 717th and final appearance for Chelsea, who departed with a standing ovation and guard of honour in the 26th minute of the match, in line with his Chelsea shirt number.

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Antonio Conte would have been forgiven for resting a few players for this dead-rubber, especially with an FA Cup Final to prepare for next week, but the Italian opted for a full-strength starting elevent in front of an adoring Stamford Bridge crowd for the final time this season.

However, it was not the start they were hoping for.

A Sunderland free-kick inside the first three minutes was not properly cleared by the Chelsea back-line, featuring John Terry for the final time, and Manquillo slotted home.

Whilst that was not in the script, this fixture has produced an average of 3.6 goals in the 31 Premier League meetings these sides have met for, and so it was no surprise to see another quick goal, this time in line with the script-writers.

Hazard won a soft free-kick from Jack Rodwell, but referee Neil Swarbrick gave it and Marcos Alonso shaped to shoot. Whilst the distance — 20 yards — was in his range, it cannoned back off the bar, and after some dallying by multiple Chelsea players, none of whom wanted to shoot, it fell to Willian to drive it past Pickford.

After the slow start, Chelsea soon found their gear.

Alonso was next to try and get involved from long range, whilst a Luiz disguised his free-kick, shaping to shoot but in reality finding Costa, who peeled away on the left-hand side but miscued his side-foot volley.

Corner after corner went Chelsea’s way as the Blues kept probing, and in truth it was no doubt from corners that John Terry had the best chance of a parting goal.

But he was not to get one.

Conte had been talking about preparing a “surprise” for this game, and it came in the 26th minute — John Terry’s Chelsea shirt number — when Cahill stripped off to come on for the departing Chelsea captain.

It was a move well-orchestrated — with Pickford making sure he kicked the ball out of play in time for a stoppage in play to occur, and then the Chelsea players formed their own little guard of honour for the Chelsea defender — but whilst the players were in-the-know, it did appear to take the Chelsea fans inside the ground by surprise, with many expecting a hurrah much later.

The game was starting to have a testimonial-like feel, but Costa brought things back to life with his ferocious nature, elbowing John O’Shea off the ball and getting a yellow card for his troubles.

The Sunderland defender could have had the last laugh on Costa and his club, though, when he nearly scored from another Sunderland set-piece, and Chelsea were struggling to deal with them into the second half, with Rodwell heading low and nearly catching Courtois by surprise.

But at the other end, the Chelsea talent shone through.

A long Willian ball presented a quick counter-attacking opportunity for Chelsea, with 2-on-2. Costa passed to Hazard, who was shown onto his outside smartly by the defender, with the Belgian wanting to cut in. Turns out the Belgian’s left foot is just as accurate, firing past Pickford to put Chelsea in the lead for the first time this match.

Conte then opted to preserve the big guns ready for next week’s Wembley showdown, with Costa and Hazard both departing, but their substitutes in Pedro and Batshuayi were no outsiders to the Chelsea title-winning team this season, and proved such by scoring or assisting three remaining Chelsea goals.

A Fabregas long ball left Lescott in a panic, needing to head the ball somehow with Pedro breathing down his neck, but the Englishman inadvertently sent it closer towards goal, and with Pickford off his line and in no man’s land, Pedro raced on to head in a third.

Batshuayi would make things worse for David Moyes’ 499th Premier League game as a manager, scoring twice in the final two minutes.

Pedro found the Belgian for the first one with an excellent reverse pass and Batshuayi beat the offside trap to slide home, whilst the icing on the game was a pure solo goal, collecting the ball on the right wing and cutting inside on his left foot to curl past Pickford.

It was a day of celebration: celebration for the emphatic win, celebration for the title-winning campaign, and more poignantly, celebration of a true Chelsea great in John Terry.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

MICHY BATSHUAYI: Bit-part player? Judging by these last three games, I think not. Michy Batshuayi has had to bide his time to justify his £33 million price tag since his summer move from Marseille, but with the title-winning goal against West Brom, the Belgian only had half an hour on the field today and still bagged a classy brace. With Costa waving to the Chelsea fans on his substitution, could Batshuayi been Chelsea’s leading man next season? 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was in dreamland: “I dreamt this but I must be honest if you asked me on my first day at Chelsea if I would win the league and be in the final of the FA Cup, it [would have been] very difficult for me to imagine this. It is an amazing moment for us to celebrate this win, for me and the players. I think this change [three at the back] was very important for us. We found the right balance and every single player enjoyed this type of situation. It was a key moment for us.”

Terry deliver an emotional farewell speech: “I have been very fortunate to work with some unbelievable players and managers throughout my career. I am thankful to every single one of them. We all have to thank Roman Abramovich. I would like to thank him and all the board. He is the best owner in world football. I will come back here one day, supporting the team for years to come.”

Moyes’ emotions could hardly have been more contrasting: “I am a man who has just lost a game today and I am gutted at the way we have lost it. I am gutted that we have been relegated, I am really disappointed at the way the season has gone.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Chelsea edge closer to title with resounding 3-0 win at Everton

Match Summary

Chelsea overcame arguably their biggest test remaining with a comfortable 3-0 win against Everton, and their first clean sheet in 11 matches.

With Tottenham playing later this evening, the Blues had the chance to throw down the gauntlet at their London rivals, but were made to wait until the 66th minute before Pedro made a stunning break-through. In the end, Cahill and Willian rounded off the win, as too did Tottenham in their game against Arsenal.

It means it is as you were in the Premier League table, with still four points separating the two sides, but with Chelsea left to face sides currently 19th, 8th, 13th and 20th, it would appear Conte has passed his biggest test, as shown by his reaction at full-time.

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Koeman’s heaviest league defeats in charge of Everton came against Chelsea earlier this season, but any hope for a similar rout was too optimistic. In fact, inside a minute, Barkley worked the ball well to Calvert-Lewin who hit the post, and it needed Cahill to deny former Chelsea man Romelu Lukaku a tap-in.

Lukaku’s opposite number, Diego Costa, did soon get stuck into the action, but neither he, nor Hazard, nor an advanced Matic, could produce a real tangible chance. Costa then had another glorious opportunity but lashed wide.

Lukaku was not proving his former employers wrong to the extent he would have undoubtedly have liked, but he did go close from 25 yards.

Tit-for-tat ensued for the remainder of the first half with neither Courtois nor Stekelenburg troubled closed up, and it looked like if Chelsea were to get their noses in front, it would need something special from afar.

Enter Pedro.

25 yards from goal and collecting a pass from Matic, the Spaniard dallied around the edge of the penalty area, and with little options, decided to bring the ball onto his favoured left foot and just hoof it. It was a spectacular drive and one which nestled into the top corner.

That opened things up for the visitors, who had before then been well-contained by a good man-marking system employed by Koeman, but with the shackles off, Cahill pounced for another.

A low Hazard free-kick was saved by Stekelenburg but not smothered, and Cahill pounced quickest from two yards out to tap in.

With nine minutes remaining and Conte satisfied to sit on the two-goal advantage, Ake, Willian and Fabregas came on in quick succession, but the latter two would add further delight to their boss’ face with the third seconds after coming on.

Fabregas did well to drive the ball to Everton’s by-line, and a neat cut-back for Willian’s first-touch presented the Brazilian with an open goal to aim at with Stekelenburg dragged out of position by Fabregas.

Especially pleasing for Conte will be Chelsea’s first clean sheet in the Premier League for some three months, especially knowing Everton have averaged 3.7 goals per game at Goodison Park in 2017 prior to this defeat.

Next stop Middlesbrough, but Tottenham will play first, some 72 hours before the leaders kick off.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

GARY CAHILL: The clean sheet cannot be underestimated against such a potent an attack as Lukaku and Everton, and with little defensive solidity from Chelsea for the past 11 Premier League matches, it is about time to recognise the contribution of Gary Cahill. Leading the line well in Terry’s continued absence, dealt with the threat of Lukaku all afternoon, and popped up with the big second goal to kill off all Everton hopes. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was staying calm: “We must be pleased because we played a game with the head and, at this part of this season, it is important to use our head, then your heart and then your legs. I think we must continue this way — to play game by game and take three points in every game. We know every win in this part of the season is very important. The road is long so we need to rest and prepare in the right way.”

Koeman saw positives: “We did well, until 1-0 maybe. After that we had more problems but that was all about their quality, before that we played well and made it tough for them. It is really tough to beat Chelsea.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea secure nervy 3-1 win against Swansea as Fabregas shines in rare start

Match Summary

Chelsea go 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table after a nervy 3-1 win against a resurgent Swansea City.

Fabregas opened the scoring before Llorente equalised on the stroke of half-time, but it took the hosts a while to put the game to bed before Pedro and Costa wrapped things up in the final 20 minutes.

Swansea have only won one of 11 previous Premier League games against Chelsea, whilst the Antonio Conte’s Blues had won 14 of their 15 home matches, but the game hinged on a controversial call with the game delicately poised at 1-1 when Cesar Azpilicueta looked like he handled the ball in the area.

Regardless, Conte will not care one bit as his side go marching on, with second-placed Manchester City not playing their match in hand this weekend.

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It was a fast Chelsea start and all blue for the opening 25 minutes. Pedro, who holds the record for this season’s fastest goal scored with his opener against Manchester United after 30 seconds, nearly recorded another quickfire goal in the opening minute, finding his way through the Swansea back-line.

Bar the odd chance for Fernandez from a Sigurdsson corner, which woke Luiz up as the Brazilian forgot his marking duties, most of the play was at the other end.

A Hazard counter saw Costa flank him on the right and Alonso support on the left, but whilst Alonso was in more better space, the Belgian opted to find the striker’s feet, who let him down, dallied too long and eventually took the ball out for a goal-kick.

Hazard then took matters into his own hands, cutting inside but was closed down, before Fabregas tried his luck from the ricochet but it was blocked legitimately, despite hitting the arm of a Swansea defender in the melee.

Fabregas was justifying his inclusion in the starting XI already with his quarterback-style passing, but it got a whole lot better after 19 minutes when he bundled the ball into the back of the net on his 300th Premier League appearance, the first Spaniard to reach this mark, and what a way to celebrate the feat.

Pedro did most of the hard work on the right and could feed either Fabregas or Costa on the edge of the box. Midfielder got in front of the striker, much to Costa’s annoyance, but it was short-lived as two touches later Fabregas cleverly bundled the ball from underneath his feet to pass Fabianski.

The Swans have only kept two clean sheets in their last 31 Premier League away games, and the goal did not help their visible shaking.

Costa was fortunately to get away with a handball before he had a shot, and when Moses kept the ball in play, Fabregas hit the ball into the ground and it looked destined to loop over into the net but Fabianski clawed away superbly.

The full-back pairing Olsson and Naugthon both soon picked up yellow cards for cynical lystopping Hazard and Moses respectively from countering, and from the ensuing Fabregas corner, Cahill and Costa both got in each other’s way as the presentable opportunity faded.

Then nearly came a quite superb solo goal by Pedro. Picking the ball up from within his own half, the Spaniard jinxed his way past seven Swansea men, but just as he was about to pull the trigger a last-ditch block forced a corner instead.

With one injury time added by fourth official Lee Probert, but nearly two played, referee Neil Swarbrick awarded a soft free-kick from which Chelsea paid, but nothing could be taken away from the execution. A floated ball by Sigurdsson saw Llorente, who Conte managed at Juventus, rise tallest and evade Moses, as Courtois was rooted to the spot.

The Icelandic midfielder has now been directly involved in 17 Premier League goals this season, more than any other midfielder, and it meant Chelsea have now conceded a goal in four consecutive league matches for the first time this season, as they had to settle for going into the break honours even.

Would the second half provide more entertainment?

Hazard was early to sting the hands of Fabianski, whilst Fabregas was proving to be a menace all day and whacked the crossbar after taking a shot first time from the edge of the penalty area.

Azpilicueta was one lucky man to get away with a handball appeal, whilst Neil Swarbrick was equally unmoved when Costa went down in the penalty area at the other end, although the crime committed at this end was much less obvious.

They say luck balances itself out, but a penny for Paul Clement’s thoughts as, in this game at least, Chelsea edged their noses in front straight after. Fabregas this time turned provider, with Pedro the goalscorer, curling one in with his left foot, despite it being a save you would have expected Fabianski to make.

Diego Costa has scored seven goals in his four Premier League games against Swansea so it was not too long to wait before he joined the fun and games, finishing off proceedings after an excellent assist by Hazard, as Chelsea go marching on 11 points clear.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

cesc-fabregas-thumbnailCESC FABREGAS: The man has not had much of a look-in in Conte’s settled Chelsea side, but whenever called upon the Spaniard always delivers. Under the watchful eye of Frank Lampard, Fabregas, on his 300th Premier League appearance, delivered a midfield masterclass Lampard would have been proud of, as he guided his side to three points with a goal and an assist, and an all-round big influence on the game. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte felt overall his side deserved the win: “For sure we dominated the game. We played very well, it was a good performance and we created many chances to score. Now it is important to continue in this way. To look at ourselves and to think to win, to continue with great focus and concentration.”

Clement knew his side was on the end of some bad luck: “There was a big moment with the handball [by Cesar Azpilicueta at 1-1]. That gives you a chance to go 2-1 up with a penalty but three minutes later you’re 2-1 down after a soft goal. Based on chances they deserved to win, but that was a big moment that did not go our way, and who knows what might have happened?”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea set up quarter-final date with Manchester United after seeing aside Wolves 2-0

Match Summary

Chelsea dispatched Wolverhampton Wanderers, albeit not easily, in the FA Cup Fifth Round to set up a quarter-final date with Manchester United.

Late goals by Pedro and Diego Costa saw off a determined Wolves side who more than gave the Premier League leaders a run for their money, but the Blues prevailed and will welcome back ex-manager Jose Mourinho in three week’s time, knowing a win there will set up Antonio Conte’s first date with Wembley.

Still, the job needed doing in the West Midlands first in front of a 30,000-strong crowd, the largest Wolves attendance for more than three decades, who kept Chelsea waiting until the 64th minute before breaking the deadlock, and the 89th before securing the win, much to Conte’s relief.

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With no mid-week European travels for Antonio Conte to contend with this season, the FA Cup can be kept high in the Italian’s agenda, as demonstrated by a formidable starting line-up which boasted the likes of Costa, Hazard, Fabregas and Terry. Whilst there was a flurry of youth in Ake and Chalobah, one must feel for Batshuayi, who has been given precious little game-time for a £33 million buy last summer.

But despite all the talk about who would be spearheading Chelsea’s attack, the first notable attack came at Chelsea’s rear end. Zouma’s clearance landed at the feet of former Chelsea youth player George Saville, who made perfect contact with the ball but, with his weaker left foot, lacked the accuracy as the ball crashed back off the post with Begovic well beaten. It was a glorious chance, and the post was still shaking for minutes afterwards.

The last time these sides met was in 2012 in the League Cup where Chelsea dished up a 6-0 lesson, but tonight’s game was anything but a walk-over and the frenetic start — Weimann had a shot moments later also — should have served as enough warning for the visitors, who started to get in the mood soon after.

Fabregas pinged a delicious ball over the top of the Wolves defence and Willian controlled well, but his attempted lob of the goalkeeper was not to fool Ikeme who got a hand on it.

The same man Willian nearly caught himself in a spot of bother when helping out his wing-back Victor Moses at the other end, brushing aside Weimann a little clumsily, if legitimately, in the eyes of Jonathan Moss.

Costa — Wolves’ Helder Costa — then had the game’s next opening, testing the Chelsea back-line and Begovic, in what was a very tough opening 20 minutes for the Blues with the hosts well on top.

Wolves really needed to convert their chances, none more so than from an excellent Dougherty cross, but Bodvarsson was inaccurate in his heading.

Costa had a half-chance on the stroke of half-time — on the volley with his back to goal — but the Blues needed to step things up in the second half to avoid an FA Cup upset, and it was not going to come through long-range Zouma drives which landed closer to Row Z than the back of the net.

Thankfully, it was another one of the Chelsea back-line who would get Chelsea up and running: Pedro. The position of left wing-back almost does the magic Spaniard a disservice, such is his attacking prowess and ability to leave defenders flat-footed, but despite a more reserved role this evening partnered next to Ake, the 29-year-old took it upon himself to break the deadlock.

Fabregas floated a ball over to Costa, whose control was clean but took him further away from goal down the right wing. A short cut-back to Hazard opened up play for Willian, who spotted Pedro cutting in from the left-wing. The Brazilian’s cross-field ball was inch-perfect and Pedro, now in and around the penalty spot, evaded all defenders and headed home expertly to preserve his record of having scored in every FA Cup round so far.

Moments before that it looked like Chelsea would rue Costa hitting the side netting when presented with a glorious opportunity, but Pedro made amends for his compatriot.

Conte was getting nervy and Azpilicueta and Kante came on to shore up the Chelsea defence as the game entered the last 20 minutes, but in the last one minute Chelsea’s lead would double.

The ball was well worked by Fabregas and Kante and, after fortuitously bouncing off a Wolves defender into the path of Costa, the Spaniard took it in his stride to sweep home.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

cesc-fabregas-thumbnailCESC FABREGAS: The magician is not getting much game time in Conte’s settled — and winning — formula with a Matic and Kante pairing in the middle of the park, but when he does get his opportunity boy does the Spaniard look at ease. Effortless passing and reading of the game and yet still only a periphery player just shows the embarrassment of talent Chelsea possess, but Fabregas is always a man Conte can rely on. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was relieved: “A very difficult game but we all knew this. We had many chances but this is the FA Cup. The results this afternoon show there is no easy games. Don’t forget, I changed seven players. It is good to have a good answer from the players who are not playing a lot. We showed great commitment to fight, to win and to continue in this competition.”

Lambert was proud of his Championship side: “I could not ask for any more. The game plan was unbelievably performed and we were up against a world-class side. Not just class, world-class. They have won Champion Leagues, so many honours, but we gave it a good go.”

 

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea held to frustrating 1-1 draw at Burnley

Match Summary

Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table cut be cut to eight points by Monday night after failing to see off a stubborn Burnley side at Turf Moor.

The visitors lead at the top of the table currently stands at 10 points, and looked to be heading to 12 after Pedro broke the deadlock early on, but Brady’s expect free-kick cut it back down to 10, and should Manchester City beat Bournemouth on Monday evening, the race could intensify with 13 games left.

Little wonder why Antonio Conte was frantically trying to secure all three points, throwing on Fabregas and Willian with still 20 minutes left in place of Moses and Matic, but neither they, nor Batshuayi who later joined the fray, could see the Blues through.

In truth it was no more than they deserved, as a dogged Burnley outfit show again why they are well clear of this season’s relegation dogfight, as the points were shared on a cold Sunday afternoon.

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In both of the Clarets’ previous Premier League seasons, Chelsea have been crowned champions. Coupled with the fact the Blues are the league’s best away side this season — and with five league wins and a draw from six Sunday games — then you would be forgiven for thinking the omens looked superb for today’s visitors.

And given Chelsea have 30 more points than they did at this stage last season, it was no surprise to see that feel-good factor in the opening quarter of an hour which brought about the game’s first goal.

Hazard found Moses in acres of space down Chelsea’s right, and after carrying the ball some 40 yards, the Nigerian laid it off to Pedro, who took one touch to wrong-foot his marker before sliding it past Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal, to record his ninth goal in all competitions for Chelseas this season, surpassing his total of eight in the last campaign.

It was a quick goal, and that was no doubt what caught Heaton off-guard, but the warning signs should have been there as Hazard has tested the goalkeeper just 60 seconds earlier.

Chelsea  have scored the first goal of the game 19 times this season, more times than any other Premier League team, and have yet to lose, so the start was no surprise, but Burnley were not caving in just yet, despite never having won a Premier League encounter against Chelsea.

Or, indeed, they were to not cave in at all, for Pedro’s goal was the last shot on target Chelsea would have for the rest of the game, and that was only the seventh minute.

Ashley Barnes was causing Luiz, sporting a new tied-back ponytail, and Cahill problems, but the real peach of an equaliser came just past the mid-way point of the first half.

Matic supplied the free-kick for which Robbie Brady, with one swipe of the left foot, buried into the back of the net, beyond the outstretched arm of one of the league’s tallest goalkeepers in Courtois. It was an excellent set-piece, with Brady becoming the first player to score a direct free-kick against Chelsea in the Premier League since Rickie Lambert in March 2013.

It could have been two for the hosts just before the break had Lowton been more clinical in front of Courtois, and soon after Cahill was flying in to deny Boyd, as Burnley stepped up a gear.

It most definitely should have been two straight after the break, after a horrendous error by Luiz saw the ball find Gray, who one-on-one with Courtois focused too heavily on just hitting the target, and the Belgian’s legs did the job.

Just before that, Diego Costa looked to have worked himself some room with Marcos Alonso before he was charged down, but it was to be a quiet affair for the Spaniard, who has failed to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in 10 months.

Lowton nearly found Barnes at the other end but for a strong Luiz header away, but Chelsea were not getting anywhere themselves, unless you could speculative long-range shots from Cesar Azpilicueta.

Fabregas and Willian entered the fray early as Conte had seen enough to feel the push for a winning goal needed 20+ minutes, but they were not able to conjure up anything significant either.

Cynical fouls by Burnley did result in a few Chelsea free-kicks, but there was no clear cut opportunity as the game drew to a close.

The Blues take a break from the Premier League with next week’s encounter being in Wolverhampton for the FA Cup, before trying to return back to winning ways against Swansea the week later.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

thibaut-courtois-thumbnailTHIBAUT COURTOIS: It was not that Chelsea had a particularly bad day, it is just no-one really stepped up their game when they needed to, and coupled with excellent Burnley tactics which often saw them revert to a back six when the Blues had the ball, it was easy to see why Chelsea could not score a winner. Instead, Burnley nearly did — twice — and so it needed smart reactions from Courtois to prevent the loss. 6/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte knew the challenged he faced: “We tried to win but we know Burnley at home are not easy. They have taken 29 points at home. I think we tried to build and do our football for sure [but] Burnley tried to disrupt our play. They played long balls and the second ball is not easy. At home they are very tough. It is one point and for sure we must be disappointed. We tried to win.”

Dyche was delighted: “Chelsea are a fine side. We limited them to two shots on target and that is tough enough [but then ourselves] we made four or five really good chances. I am very pleased overall. I was super impressed with our reaction to their goal.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea make light work by beating Brentford 4-0 in FA Cup Fourth Round

Match Summary

A much-changed Chelsea side saw off Brentford 4-0 to progress to the FA Cup Fifth Round with ease.

Goals by Willian and Pedro set the tone inside the first 20 minutes, whilst Ivanovic and a Batshuayi penalty wrapped things up in the closing 20 minutes.

In the process was a chance for Conte to rest nine first-team regulars and blood the likes of Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek and the returning Ake, who simply had too much quality for the second-division side.

It means the Blues are into the competition’s Fifth Round for the 20th time in 24 years, where the opponents will be drawn on Monday evening.

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The last time these two sides met, Chelsea needed a replay to beat the Bees in the 2012/13 iteration of the competition, with today’s visitors not beating the hosts since 1939, and it did not look like this record was to be broken after just 14 minutes on the clock.

Pedro was blocked off by the Brentford defence and Michael Oliver signalled a free-kick from a promising position 20 yards out. Willian took a quick two-step run up before arrowing it perfectly into the Brentford goal past Bentley, to record his seventh goal of the season.

Seven minutes later and it was 2-0.

A beautiful counter-attack by Willian and then Batshuayi saw the Belgian try to feed Loftus-Cheek who was running in on goal. An astray pass to the Englishman turned into the perfect pass to the man running on the overlap, Pedro, who took the ball in his stride, cut back on his left foot and poked it between Bentley’s legs.

The Spaniard has now scored eight goals after just 24 appearances this season, matching the total number of goals he scored for all of last season (40 games).

The Blues were keen to seal the deal early, and Loftus-Cheek was enjoying his advanced left-wing role, firing a shot via a ricochet which forced Bentley into a good save.

Moments later, a corner by Fabregas saw Ake go just wide, whilst another set-piece opportunity later saw Terry climb highest, and when the ball fell kindly to Batshuayi, the Brentford defence somehow managed to clear the ball away from the goal, with the goal-line technology system in use to show the ball was scrambled away before it crossed the line.

The Blues then had the ball in the net twice in quick succession: firstly Fabregas found Pedro who just went a fraction too early, even if his square ball was tapped in by Batshuayi, and moments later it was a near-identical moment, with Pedro again not in-sync with Chalobah’s through-ball despite Batshuayi again supplying the end product.

Fabregas’ daisy-cutter was tipped away by Bentley as Chelsea were firing from all cylinders, including a pop at goal by Loftus-Cheek, but the youngster lacked conviction.

The second half brought about a resurgence in Brentford spirit, albeit short-lived. Two real opportunities to score were spurned, firstly when the Brentford attack got ahead of Zouma and Terry but could not outsmart Begovic, before a dangerous cross send the Chelsea defence into panic.

Willian was keen to get on the scoresheet from open play and cut in from the left in search of the angle to find his goal, but greedily blazed it wide with many colleagues in better positions.

Michael Oliver was clearly keen to let the game flow as much as possible, allowing as much advantage as possible, and it nearly worked in Chelsea’s favour when Willian skipped nearly four punishable tackles before feeding Loftus-Cheek, who sadly who only hit the top of the crossbar with his deft lob.

Woods then turned Terry and Azpilicueta but failed to beat Begovic, but the real opportunities continued to be at the other end. Ivanovic exchanged one-twos firstly with Zouma and then with Pedro before continuing his run and firing in Chelsea’s third.

The Serbian, who had only just come on for arguably one of his last Chelsea appearances, was then the provider of his side’s fourth, winning the penalty in the 81st minute. Batshuayi, for all his huffing and puffing and good movement, failed to find the goal and so all eyes were on him the the Belgian did not disappoint. It means Batshuayi has been involved in six goals in three starts at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea, and seals a comfortable day for Conte’s men.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

pedro-thumbnailPEDRO: Michy Batshuayi deserves credit for leading the line professionally after an undoubtedly frustrating start to his Chelsea career trying to displace Costa, and many of Chelsea’s youngsters deserve applause for their role in this disciplined display, but the creative engine needs to be there and somehow this season it is Pedro. With Hazard benched and Willian also potent, Pedro has risen to another level and is surely one of the first names on the team-sheet for Conte now. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was pleased to progress in this competition: “When you win 4-0 it’s a good result, and when you score many goals and you don’t concede. I must be pleased because when you change nine players you can see all the players, all the squad are totally involved in our idea of football, our project. That’s very important. I’m very happy.”

Smith was noble in defeat: “It was always going to be tough but I didn’t want to come away from here without us asking a question. The fans were brilliant… it was a local derby and they wanted to see us in the FA Cup having a go. We did that in the second-half, not so much in the first-half.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea ease past champions Leicester with 3-0 away win

Match Summary

Chelsea made light work of Premier League champions Leicester City and go seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a 3-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

Two goals by Macros Alonso six minutes inside each half, and one from Pedro in the 71st minute, wrapped things up on an impressive night for the visitors in Leicester, who went into the match 28 points ahead of their hosts when only 12 months ago they were 17 behind them.

How times have changed, with this win giving Chelsea 52 points after 21 matches, two more points than their final total for the ENTIRE season last year, and signalling that Tottenham was indeed a mere hiccup, and furthermore proving life can go on after Diego Costa.

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This equivalent fixture last season produced a highly traumatic end for Jose Mourinho’s second spell in charge of the Blues, with a 2-1 loss, and subsequent rant about players ‘betraying’ his methods, enough to send the Portuguese to an £8 million compensation package.

12 months on, the start of this half, mercifully, went better for Conte’s men.

Musa did send early warning signals to the visitors, with the hosts matching Chelsea’s three at the back, and Musa nearly got straight in twice with lax defending by Azpilicueta and Luiz.

But the visitors’ chances at the other end were more promising, and indeed led to the first goal within six minutes.

Azpilicueta sent in a cross from the right-wing and it looked like Pedro was impeded by Huth in his quest to get to the ball first, but it was no matter as Hazard, playing as the false nine with Costa dropped for a mid-week training fracas with a fitness coach, laying on a peach of a ball to Alonso. The Spaniard still had some work to do but finished with great aplomb with his right foot, curling beautifully past Schmeichel and an onrushing Albrighton.

It was the 26-year-old’s second Chelsea goal, his first being against Everton who also tried to play three at the back, and Leicester, who were aiming to keep three consecutive clean sheets for the first time in this season’s Premier League, saw their hopes dashed within six minutes.

Would Ranieri have to tinker already? It certainly was a very comfortable first quarter of an hour for Chelsea but Leicester started to show their true colours. With Tottenham beating Chelsea via two identical crosses that led to the two identical Alli headers, Albrighton began sending some delicious crosses in, the first just evading Vardy and the second being met by Chiwell who diverted the ball just wide. Had that been a real target-man in Slimani, the outcome might have been very different.

Then, Ndidi saw his long-range effort fly just wide after Matic was dispossessed when trying to clear out of his own penalty box, but more chances kept coming the hosts’ way, especially when there was a near-suicidal mix-up between Luiz and Courtois when neither took charge of a Vardy cross. Had Luiz got a touch it might have been an own goal, but the Brazilian gambled by leaving it and Courtois thankfully reacted well.

Leicester nearly returned the favour at the other end when miscommunication between Schmeichel and Fuchs saw angry exchanges between the two, but no second goal conceded.

The last chance of the first half went to Chelsea from a set-piece. Pedro countered and, with nowhere to go, smartly bought the foul from Andre Marriner, and whilst Luiz is know for his style of free-kick taking, the Brazilian opted to play it short to Hazard, who himself fed Pedro, but the Spaniard’s shot was wide. Had it gone it, it would have been a picture-book goal.

The second goal did go in for Chelsea early in the second half though. Fuchs gave away a needless free-kick with Willian going nowhere in the corner, and the ball swung in broke to Alonso who had time to settle himself and rifle home, via a deflection off Morgan, a second. He is only the third Chelsea defender to score a brace in the Premier League, joining John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.

Hazard was struggling to make a real impact on the game from a central role without a focal man in Costa, but was still proving to be a handful, running head down at Wes Morgan. The Belgian typically would cut inside but opted to go round Morgan’s stronger side and failed.

Cahill then came up against the same wall in Morgan when, from a corner, he tried an outrageous over-head kick that was destined for the back post, whilst Alonso nearly secured his hat-trick when he controlled beautifully a deep Moses cross and nearly buried the ball into the far post.

The third was not too long a wait away and was another excellent goal to wait for. Moses passed to Pedro who showcased an extraordinary piece of skill with a no-look back-heel pass to Willian, and the Brazilian returned the favour by finding Pedro again to head home with Schmeichel off his line.

Fabregas, Batshuayi and Loftus-Cheek all entered the fray, but the points were well sealed by then and Hull await next week.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

marcos-alonso2-thumbnailMARCOS ALONSO: The man has come about and done his work quietly since his summer arrival, but where defensive solidity may not make the headlines, grabbing a brace at the other end will. Alonso’s position was thought to be in threat, with the whole point of recalling Nathan Ake back from Bournemouth so that more pressure could be put on the left wing-back berth, but more performances like this and Alonso, and Chelsea, will have nothing to worry about. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was pleased: “A good performance because it’s not easy to come here, play the champions and win in this way. I’m pleased with all my players, we showed great spirit, all the players tried to help each other with the ball and without the ball. After the defeat to Spurs we started in the right way.” On the Costa fall-out rumours: “Diego stopped his training Tuesday because he felt a pain in his back. I don’t know anything about [an offer from China], no.”

Ranieri was refusing to be downbeat: “Today we made a good performance but we lost, and that is football. If you take out the first two goals we played at same level as them. If we had not conceded those goals it would have been another match.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.