Burnley are set to host league leaders Chelsea at Turf Moor as they look to become the first side to inflict defeat on the Blues since Tottenham in January.
Going into this tie, the Blues will look to continue their brilliant form in the League. They suffered what can only be considered a minor blip this year against Spurs, but have since gone on to amass a huge 9 point lead at the top of the table and effectively have one hand on the title already.
Burnley have been this season’s surprise package and have taken to life in the Premier League in superb fashion. They currently sit at a comfortable 12th place, 9 points away from the relegation zone. Sean Dyche made sure to bring his side’s superb home form with them from the Championship this season and so they have lost only three games at Turf Moor this campaign against Arsenal, Manchester City and Swansea.
Jeff Hendrick will be missing from this tie, who will begin serving a 3 match suspension for his red card against Watford. Defour, Marney and Long are all out with long term injuries and apart from these, Sean Dyche has no new injury concerns in his squad.
Hendrick’s absence will likely mean that Ashley Westwood or Robbie Brady could get a chance, but Westwood will mostly start as Sean Dyche will set up his side to try and restrict Chelsea’s attacking build-up in the middle of the park as much as possible.
The inclusion of the Englishman is expected to the only change from the side that lost at Vicarage road last week. Tom Heaton in goal will have Stephen Ward, Ben Mee, Michael Keane and Matthew Lowton in defence.
Scott Arfield, Westwood, Barton and Boyd will make up their midfield, and Andre Gray and Ashley Barnes will be leading the line for the Clarets. Sam Vokes, joint top-highest goalscorer of the club alongside Gray, may feature over the course of the game.
Dyche has set his side up in a conservative 4-4-2 this term and against Chelsea, they will be focused on conceding less and winning balls in midfield in order to restrict Chelsea’s build up play. The emphasis will be on putting pressure on the Blues, who are expected to enjoy the lion’s share of possession throughout the game.
Predicted Starting XI(4-4-2): Heaton; Ward, Mee, Keane, Lowton; Arfield, Westwood, Barton, Boyd; Gray, Barnes
Antonio Conte has no new injury concerns going into this match. The Italian will have a full strength squad to choose from, meaning that he will be spoilt for choice in defence and midfield and no diversion from their now standard 3-4-3 is expected.
David Luiz is playing with a slight leg injury, but the Brazilian will likely soldier on. There is a slight chance that Cesc Fabregas, scorer of Chelsea’s third goal against Arsenal, may start in the middle of the park instead of Nemanja Matic, given the opposition.
Diego Costa will start, and hope to end his goal scoring ‘drought’. The only dilemma Conte may have is whether to go with Pedro or Willian on the right wing, but the Brazilian may start as Pedro started in last week’s victory against Arsenal.
Predicted Starting XI(3-4-3): Courtois; Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Matic, Kante, Moses; Hazard, Costa, Willian
- Chelsea have lost only 1 Premier League game since switching to the 3-4-3 formation, which came against Tottenham Hotspur at the start of the calendar year.
- Only Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea have better home records this season in the Premier League than Burnley.
- Chelsea have the best away record this season in the Premier League this season.
- Burnley have lost only 5 games at home in the last 2 seasons.
- If Chelsea don’t score, Burnley would have three consecutive clean sheets at home in the top for the first time since 1961.
- With 13, Chelsea have kept the most number of clean sheet this term in the Premier League.
Player To Watch
Burnley: Andre Gray
Alongside Sam Vokes, Gray is the club’s top scorer this season with 7 goals and the Blues are sure to have their hands full with the striker should he play. He has been central to Burnley’s home form this season and 6 of this 7 goals have come at Turf Moor.
Chelsea: Eden Hazard
The Belgian has been in stellar season this term, scoring 10 goals and getting 3 assists in 23 Premier League games this term. Arguably their best player this term alongside N’golo Kante, all eyes will be on Hazard to see what magic the Belgian can produce after last week’s performance against Arsenal.
Burnley 0-2 Chelsea
Despite Burnley’s impressive record at home this season, Chelsea have no excuse to not come away from this tie with all three points. Based on current form and sheer quality within their ranks, Antonio Conte will expect a nothing less than a victory.
Chelsea have had to dig deeper for victories when facing mid table teams away from home this season and Burnley should be no different. Conte will be aware that all the pressure of the tie will rest on the shoulders of his side and underestimating the Lancashire side who have nothing to lose, would be a grave error on their part.