Chelsea will be aiming to continue their unbeaten streak in the 2018-19 Premier League, when they face off against Sean Dyche’s Burnley this weekend.
After their exploits in the UEFA Europa League during the week, Chelsea return to Premier League action on Sunday, as they travel to the Turf Moor to take on Burnley.
Chelsea have made a brilliant start to the season and find themselves in the third spot in the league table, with 21 points from nine matches. Their unbeaten record in the league was under threat last weekend, but a late Ross Barkley equalizer earned them a 2-2 draw against Manchester United.
Following that, the Blues picked up an impressive 3-1 win against BATE Borisov to maintain their perfect start in the UEFA Europa League. And manager Maurizio Sarri will be hoping that his side are able to continue in the same vein of form when they come face to face against the Clarets on Sunday.
It hasn’t been the most ideal starts to the season for Burnley, after a memorable 2017-18 campaign. After failing to get through to the group stages of the Europa League, Sean Dyche’s men have struggled to get going in the Premier League as well.
Burnley sit 12th in the table, having managed to collect just 8 points in nine matches this term, with only two victories to their name. The Clarets were hammered 5-0 by reigning champions Manchester City last time out and they will be intent on avoiding another mauling at the hands of a title contender this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
The big news coming out of the Clarets’ camp is that Robbie Brady is fit again and back in contention for selection, after having been out sidelined for a long period. However, goalkeeper Nick Pope and centre-back Ben Gibson continue to be doubts for the home team, along with Aaron Lennon. Full-back Stephen Ward is ruled out.
Burnley will set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation and are most likely to sit deep and defend to prevent the Blues from scoring and try to nick a goal from set-piece situations. Joe Hart has been in good form, despite having let in five goals in the last game and will continue between the sticks on Sunday.
Matthew Lowton is the obvious choice at right-back, while former Leeds United man Charlie Taylor is expected to continue at left-back in Ward’s absence. James Tarkowski will pair up with Ben Mee in the heart of the defence for Burnley.
Steven Defour made his first appearance since January against City last weekend and is likely to hold on to his spot in the middle of the park. He will be partnered by Jack Cork, who will be tasked with screening the Clarets’ defence. Iceland international Johann Berg Gudmundsson is a guaranteed starter on the right flank, with Brady likely to start on the left side of the midfield.
Jeff Hendrick will slot in the hole behind the main striker Sam Vokes, who had scored twice against Chelsea in the 2017-18 campaign, meaning Chris Wood and Matej Vydra will once again start on the bench.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Hart; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Berg Gudmundsson, Defour, Cork, Brady; Hendrick; Vokes;
Superstar Eden Hazard is a doubt for Chelsea, having missed their European assignment with an injury he sustained last weekend against Manchester United. Youngster Ethan Ampadu is the only other injury concern for the Blues heading into Sunday’s encounter.
Sarri is likely to make a number of changes to the team that started against BATE in the midweek. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizzabalaga will definitely hold on to his spot in goal though, but the entire backline will be changed with regulars Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso all set to return to the starting XI, after sitting out of the Europa League fixture.
Wholesale changes are expected in the middle of the park as well, with N’Golo Kante set to start in place of Mateo Kovacic, while Jorginho will return at the base of the midfield ahead of Cesc Fabregas. Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored a hat-trick on Thursday night, but is likely to make way for Ross Barkley in the starting XI for Sunday’s game.
On the right side of the attacking trident, Willian will hold on to his spot, while Hazard should pass the late fitness test and make it to the team on the left flank. Spearheading the attack for the West London outfit will be Alvaro Morata, who was overlooked for Olivier Giroud in the midweek game.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Willian, Morata, Hazard;
- Chelsea’s only defeat in eight Premier League games against Burnley was by 3-2 at home on the opening day of last season (W5, D2).
- Burnley have not beaten Chelsea at Turf Moor since a 3-0 second tier victory in April 1983.
- Maurizio Sarri could become the first Chelsea boss to remain unbeaten in his first 10 Premier League matches in charge.
- Ross Barkley could become the first Englishman to score in three consecutive top-flight games for Chelsea since Frank Lampard in February 2013.
- Burnley have earned seven points from their last four games, one more than they accrued from their previous 11 league matches.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.10
2. Burnley Asian Handicap + 1.5 @ 1.775
3. Chelsea Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.83
1. Chris Wood to score anytime @ 4.33
Player to Watch
Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
After a sensational start to life in England, Alvaro Morata’s form has been on a steep downhill since the end of the last year, when he had picked up an injury. The former Real Madrid striker has found the back of the net on just three occasions so far this term in 12 appearances across all competitions.
Last weekend, Morata put in another limp display in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United, while he was an unused substitute in the midweek against BATE. With rumours of Chelsea planning to sign a new centre-forward in January gaining steam with every passing match, Morata has very little time to prove himself and show that he can be the Blues’ main man going forward.
Burnley 1-2 Chelsea
Burnley may have conceded five times last time out, but they had managed to do a pretty decent job of holding Manchester City back for a good length of the game before the floodgates opened. And facing them at the Turf Moor is never an easy prospect either.
However, given the form that Chelsea are in currently, stopping them will be a difficult proposition for the Clarets, more so if Hazard is passed fit and features in the game. Burnley will not make it easy for Sarri’s men, but we at the Hard Tackle expect the West Londoners to come out on top again on Sunday.