Chelsea – Burnley: Two of Chelsea’s mainstay defenders delivered the goals in Thomas Tuchel’s first win as Blues boss, a nearly-faultless 2-0 defeat of Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso scored off assists from Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic, respectively, as the Blues held Burnley without a shot attempt until stoppage-time on 71 percent possession in a classic Chelsea performance.
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Chelsea took 19 shots and led 1-0 at the half but static play had Burnley hoping for better in the second half. The introduction of USMNT star Pulisic at striker very much changed that.
The Blues are up to 33 points, good for seventh in the table. Burnley’s 22 points sets it 16th, eight clear of the bottom three
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Three things we learned from Chelsea – Burnley
1. Pulisic sub injects style: Thomas Tuchel’s decision to rest Hakim Ziyech and. keep trusted Christian Pulisic on the bench because he knows the American and has seen him change games makes some sense, but we’re pretty sure the German boss and his ex-Borussia Dortmund winger are ready to see him affecting games from the start after back-to-back “meh” spells from the front three.
The American was on at halftime with Chelsea leading 1-0 and he slotted at striker alongside Timo Werner in a front two with Mason Mount sitting underneath. The change in style was instantaneous. No, Burnley did not have a shot in the first half but the Blues appeared contained and even static with Tammy Abraham a peripheral figure and Werner struggling for confidence. Pulisic’s running opened up space for Werner, who probably could’ve scored twice in each half (Full Pulisic Watch here).
2. Azpilicueta’s indictment: Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of Chelsea’s best players for the better part of a decade but had suffered for playing time in Frank Lampard’s youth movement. An unused sub for 10 PL matches this season, “Dave” is the author of Thomas Tuchel’s first goal as Chelsea boss.
Chelsea’s 4W-1D-5L in those 10 matches and 3W-5D-1L when he goes 45 minutes or more, including the 3-3 draw versus West Brom that saw the back arrive at half with the Blues down 3-0. (The other match is Chelsea’s win over Brighton on Opening Day when Azpilicueta played just five minutes). It’s probably worth noting that Lampard played Azpilicueta 90 minutes in 36 of 38 matches last season and the Blues were markedly better.
We’ve said for some time that a new boss would lean on veterans and the calm, composed, and steady back three of Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, and Thiago Silva could hardly be troubled by a Burnley side absent Ashley Barnes and, later, Chris Wood.
Chelsea w/ and w/o Azpilicueta in #PL since start of 2019-20 season ⤵️
At least 45 mins: 22W-11D-12L*
<5 min or unused: 5W-1D-6L
*Went 90 in all but one match, entering at half down three in 3-3 draw with #WBA
— Nicholas Mendola (@NicholasMendola) January 31, 2021
3. Tuchel’s tactics perfect: Burnley was absent antagonistic forward Ashley Barnes and preferred left back Charlie Taylor, so Tuchel put the old hats in a back three and encouraged Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount to drive that left side. Tammy Abraham and Werner failed to impress, but Pulisic arrived for Abraham and the Werner-Pulisic combo was fantastic in a half that could’ve produced four or five goals. Once Werner starts finishing — and he will — look out.
Man of the Match: Jorginho
With respect to Mount, Azpilicueta, and Hudson-Odoi as a splendid right side, the midfield metronome sat atop the back three with Mateo Kovacic, but Kovacic had freedom to do what he wanted as Jorginho zipped side-to-side as a moving link between the backs and everyone else. Jorginho had over 110 touches and completed 98-of-104 passes with four key passes.
Chelsea – Burnley recap
The Blues were undoubtedly on top and much of the attack was going through Callum Hudson-Odoi.
That’s for better or worse, as the youngster flubbed one chance, earned a corner with another, and helped set up a third that was troubled by confusion between Marcos Alonso and Tammy Abraham.
Timo Werner blew one chance badly but was back minutes later with a dribble through the 18 that led to Mason Mount popping a shot over the frame.
Not firing on all cylinders, but firing nonetheless.
The opener saw the sixes and sevens turn special and it’s probably worth noting that Mount was driving through the middle and wingback Hudson-Odoi quite advanced when he cut the ball into Azpilicueta’s path for a fine side-footed finish.
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Enter Christian Pulisic for halftime, a struggling Tammy Abraham removed and the American seemingly up top with Timo Werner in a sort of 3-2-3-2 while Chelsea was in possession.
Hudson-Odoi had a deflected shot hit the near post in the 58th, and the English wdie man was a massive threat. His bid to find Werner in the 69th minute nearly turned into a Ben Mee own goal.
Mason Mount zipped a shot wide moments later, but the second goal wouldn’t arrive until the 85th minute when Pulisic’s cross was taken out of the air with mesmerizing technique for a powerful finish by Alonso.
James Tarkowski headed the ball over the goal on a stoppage-time corner, Burnley’s only bid toward goal.