Burnley climbs to 27 points on goals from Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood, with Pope’s save of Vardy the moment of the match. The point total is good enough for 14th on the table, five points ahead of the drop zone.
Three things we learned
1. Barnes roasts Mee twice, but Pope offers clemency: Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope had a strong day between the sticks, and the performance was required stuff as center back Ben Mee opened the door twice. Pope could do nothing about Barnes’ first goal, which came with Mee far too slow to react to a dribble. The second came when Mee hauled down Barnes, and Jamie Vardy came to the spot for what looked to be a surefire penalty winner. No, sir, as Pope guessed correctly to stop one of the better penalty takers in the leader.
Mee also could’ve conceded a penalty (see our third thing) on an uncharacteristically poor day.
2. Burnley as pesky as ever: The Clarets play scrappy football. They don’t care much for the ball and manager Sean Dyche demands fight in the air and on the ground. Burnley has let him down with poor defending this season, but the players remain feisty when following his plan of finding his forwards on the counter and through set pieces. The problem? Those opportunities are conditional, and the Clarets have not been finding them enough.
Of course, they did that twice on Sunday. Ashley Westwood’s long corner did not find Kasper Schmeichel at his best, and Westwood then scored when Jonny Evans also made an uncharacteristic error.
3. Leicester’s luck leaves them: The Foxes probably should’ve had a penalty. As far as we know, VAR did not have a closer look at Mee jutting his elbow out to block a shot late in the second half. Replays begged a penalty, but no review was signalled via television or referee.
Moments later the Foxes cringed as Evans, a decent enough defender, made a careless error to allow Westwood to thump home from close range.
Not only that, but Praet appeared to be fouled in the build-up to the opening goal. VAR didn’t find anything.
Man of the Match: Pope. He was fantastic, left for dead on Barnes’ opener but able to stop Vardy from the spot and then again point blank in the 78th minute.
Harvey Barnes fired a shot to Nick Pope from 10 yards within 35 seconds of the opening kickoff.
It was predictably all Leicester early, the Clarets again content to hemorrhage possesion in favor of counter attacking danger.
Barnes put the Foxes in front with a run down the gut of the Burnley back line, Ben Mee barely presenting an obstacle on the route to Pope’s doorstep.
Pope made a great save on Dennis Praet within two minutes of restart, then collecting a stray through ball before Jamie Vardy could reach it.
Wood leveled it with a typical Burnley goal, Mee nodding down a corner into the six for the Kiwi to prod over the line.
Mee was in the mix again as Leicester City took control back. Barnes roasted the center back to draw a penalty. Vardy doesn’t miss many of those, but Pope was there to stop the Premier League’s leading goal scorer from the spot.
Mee’s awful day should’ve gotten worse when he leaned to block a shot with his arm, but VAR didn’t see an error and the Clarets raced down the pitch to score soon after.r
It was Westwood, one of the league’s unsung contributors, who pounced on a Jonny Evans error in the 79th minute.
The Blues stay fourth in moving onto 39 points, while Burnley’s 24 are just four clear of the Bottom Three.
Three things we learned
1. Abraham’s baker dozen just the tip of the iceberg: Tammy Abraham has a nose for goal, and the 22-year-old now has 13 league goals this season despite not regularly impressing in other areas of the field. He may still dip in and out of play, sometimes for entire halves, but watch out if Frank Lampard is able to harness his knack for goal into a complete product.
2. Burnley tempting fate: We’re not here to doubt Sean Dyche, but the statistics are quite ready to ask whether the Clarets can defy logic again to remain in the Premier League. Over-simplified: Burnley readily concedes possession and doesn’t pass the ball well, depending on hustle and pressure to produce chances (as well as long balls lumped to the forwards). Its 68 percent passing will finish last in the top flight, and we’re able to project that in January. Still Dyche will probably just beat up everyone and finish 15th. His teams get it done.
3. James staking his claim: Chelsea’s 20-year-old right back Reece James was very good again on Saturday, providing an assist and forcing Nick Pope into a big save in the first half. Already an excellent passer with a willingness to tackle, the future is very much his for the taking.
Man of the Match: Willian had his nose in everything his side of the pitch, and just gets the nod over James.
Burnley thought it was ahead when Jeff Hendrick headed Ben Mee‘s flick home, but the midfielder was offside.
Chelsea then found its way to the spot when Matthew Lowton‘s short slide caught Willian inside the box.
Jorginho calmly wrong-footed Nick Pope for 1-0 in the 28th.
Yes, this will cause controversy. Yes, you won’t agree with these 20 selections.
There is no right answer here because certain players may not have been the best technical player to play for a certain team over the last decade but they may have been the most important to their success.
Anyway, here it goes.
Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez – Yes, it didn’t end well for him at Arsenal. But for four seasons he led them to the FA Cup, top four finishes and scored superb goals along the way. His hunger to win drove Arsene Wenger‘s teams on and along with Jack Wilshere (when he was fit) and Aaron Ramsey, he was one of the few world-class quality players the Gunners possessed.
Aston Villa: Jack Grealish – A local lad who arrived from the academy with his low socks and slick Peaky Blinders-esque haircut, Grealish is Villa through and through and Villa’s hopes of staying in the Premier League this season revolve around the English playmaker. He stayed with them when they went down and brought them back up as skipper and his mercurial talents mean the big clubs are circling.
Bournemouth: Steve Cook – It is amazing to think he is just 29 years old. Cook has been with Bournemouth throughout their promotion from League One to the Premier League and is now at the heart of their defense. Some great players have been key to Bournemouth’s success but Cook has held it all together.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Lewis Dunk – Another local lad who has com through the ranks to be a star, Dunk is a towering, powerful center back who was with Brighton when they were at the Withdean and has been influential in their promotion and consolidation in the Premier League. He’s also played for England. His decade has been a Slam… Dunk.
Burnley: Ben Mee – A mainstay in Burnley’s defense after joining from Man City in 2011, initially on loan, Mee has been essential to their promotion campaigns and keeping them in the Premier League. A no-nonsense defender, Burnley can totally trust Mee. The unsung hero in a club of unsung heroes.
Chelsea: Eden Hazard – My favorite player of the decade in the Premier League because he could change the game on his own. Hazard led Chelsea to two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League and when he was at his best he was unstoppable. Ask players around the PL who was the best player they came up against and the vast majority will say Hazard.
Crystal Palace: WilfriedZaha – The academy product was a star in the Championship, left for Manchester United, came back and ripped it up. Zaha is loved by Palace’s fans and is probably the best player outside of the top six in the Premier League. His pace and power is just too much to handle for most teams. And even though he wants to leave for a team challenging for trophies, Zaha will go down as a Palace legend.
Everton: Leighton Baines – Okay, so it was a flip of a coin between Baines and Seamus Coleman, but I’m going for Baines. His quality from set piece situations was incredible and he was just wonderfully reliable. Everton’s two full backs will be etched into Toffees history but Baines’ extra quality in the final third gives him the nod.
Leicester City: Jamie Vardy – Okay, with N’Golo Kante, Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel and Riyad Mahrez around, this wasn’t that easy but Vardy should get the nod. He scored the goals to lead Leicester to an incredible Premier League title win as his pace and clinical finishing capped off his unreal rise from non-league to the Premier League, and his resurgence over the past 12 months has been amazing. Vardy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but when he’s at his best, nobody can stop him.
Liverpool: Virgil Van Dijk – This could be a controversial pick given the fact that he’s only played for Liverpool for two years, but there’s no doubt that no other player has been as important to the team as VVD. Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah have been attacking stars for the Reds over the last decade but Van Dijk’s arrival helped lead Liverpool to the Champions League and improved their entire defense which had been their Achilles heel under Jurgen Klopp. Van Dijk is a Rolls Royce and probably the most complete defender the Premier League has ever seen.
Manchester City: Vincent Kompany – A proper Man City legend, Kompany was the captain for all four of Man City’s Premier League title wins over the last decade. Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva have all been key parts of City’s glittering decade but Kompany was the glue who held it all together. Injuries hit him hard in the second half of the decade but he was no doubt one of the greatest center backs in the history of the game. His goal to clinch the 2018-19 title was the perfect way to go out.
Manchester United: David De Gea – He routinely won United’s Player of the Season over the last decade and without him Red Devils fans shudder to think where they would be. He has had a few big errors over the last 12 months but DDG has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League over the last decade. Amid all of United’s struggles to get back to the top, De Gea has been their one true star.
Newcastle United: Yohan Cabaye – Had the quality on the ball to rip teams apart and led the Magpies to a fifth-place finish under Alan Pardew. Papiss Cisse, Chieck Tiote, Moussa Sissoko and Demba Ba all had exceptional stints at Newcastle, but Cabaye had the extra class required to sew it together. The way he left for PSG wasn’t ideal but when all is said and done the former Lille midfielder was a game-changer at St James’ Park.
Norwich City: Wes Hoolahan – A yo-yo decade for the Canaries who went all the way down to League One and worked their way back to the Premier League via back-to-back promotions. Republic of Ireland midfielder Hoolahan was their main attacking threat throughout the promotion years and he was capable of the sublime.
Sheffield United: Billy Sharp – A local lad who has spent three spells at his beloved Blades and most recently signed for them in 2015 in League One, he scored the goals to take them back to the Premier League. Sharp has spent his entire career scoring boatloads of goals in the lower leagues and his dream was to play for Sheffield United in the Premier League. He’s achieved that, even though he hasn’t played a big role in their incredible season back in the top-flight. Sharp, 33, will forever be a Sheffield United legend.
Southampton: Rickie Lambert – Another star forward who led his team from League One to the Premier League. Lambert signed for Saints from Bristol Rovers for $1.3 million in 2010, just after they had come out of administration, and then led them to back-to-back promotions as they returned to the PL. He then established himself as one of the top strikers in the league, got a call-up to the England team, play at the 2014 World Cup and eventually sealed his dream move to hometown club Liverpool. Known as “Sir Rickie” at St Mary’s, there will be a statue of him at the club one day as he led them back to the top-flight and did it was pure style befitting of the legendary No. 7 shirt he wore. He did Matt Le Tissier proud. Sadio Mane, Morgan Schneiderlin, Van Dijk, Adam Lallana, Jose Fonte and others were stars for Saints in the last decade but Lambert was the reason they were even in the PL in the first place.
Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane – Has any other player in the Premier League burst onto the scene more than Kane in 2010? The London lad has come through Spurs’ academy to become a global star and is a goalscoring machine. In 2013-14 he was struggling to break through after several loan spells and now Kane is one of the best center forwards in the world. Kane scores every type of goal imaginable for club and country and is the captain of England and Tottenham’s talisman. The only thing left for him to tick off is winning a trophy. Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen have all been mainstays but without Kane’s goals, Spurs would not have turned into genuine title contenders and regulars in the Champions League.
Watford: Troy Deeney – Mr. Watford, Deeney led them to promotion to the PL in 2015 and they’ve been there ever since. Deeney’s goals (126 in 380 games in all competitions) and bulldozing displays have kept Watford in the top-flight and they’ve reached FA Cup semifinals and finals as they continue to punch above their weight. Deeney is Watford’s captain and sets the tone for the entire club.
West Ham United: Dmitri Payet – Yes, West Ham fans will not like to admit this, but Payet was otherworldly at Upton Park and the London Stadium. The way he left for Marseille wasn’t great, at all, and the current owners have pretty much removed him from their history. But his amazing goals, free kicks and general outrageousness turned him into a club legend. Payet was box office as Slaven Bilic‘s side qualified for Europe.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Conor Coady – A mainstay in central defense for Wolves, Coady has led the charge since Fosun bought the club and Nuno Espirito Santo took over. A produce of Liverpool’s academy, he is a true professional who sets the standards day in, day out. Coady joined Wolves when they were struggling in the Championship and they are now in the Europa League knockout rounds and are challenging for the top four four after taking the PL by storm over the last two seasons. All of the recent impressive signings in attack and midfield have been important, so too has Matt Doherty who has been with Wolves since their days in the third tier, but Coady is the heart of Wolves and has been since 2015.
Willian also scored for the Blues, who will finish the weekend in fourth place with 20 points.
Pulisic’s hat trick makes him the youngest hat trick scorer in Chelsea history.
Dwight McNeil and Jay Rodriguez scored in the final five minutes for the Clarets.
Three things we learned
1. Pulisic’s primal scream of relief heard across the ocean: Here’s the bell ringer, Christian Pulisic’s first Premier League goal. The Yanks’ 21-year-old scored his first Premier League goal in a matching minute,, seizing on a bad touch from Matthew Lowton and dribbling James Tarkowski before rolling a low shot across goal past Nick Pope. A quality strike to beat two quality players.
He let out of a primal scream in celebration as he waited for his teammates to join the celebration. All things considered, it’s difficult to imagine how good the moment felt for the USMNT’s top man. He’d add a second by cooking Tarkowski to his other side and getting a deflection, and had three key passes in an incredible first half.
The third came in the second half with a nice header, and the opened floodgates were greeted with relief by so many in Chelsea blue and beyond.
6 – Christian Pulisic is the sixth different American player to score 2+ goals in a Premier League game, after Roy Wegerle, Joe-Max Moore, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey. Doodles. #BURCHEpic.twitter.com/wJcvYNCvJz
2. Burnley broken down: The Clarets entered the day having kept clean sheets in three of four matches at home this season. The fourth was a 3-0 loss to Liverpool, and Chelsea made sure that it showed its Top Four acumen. Lowton’s giveaway on Pulisic’s first goal was poor and the second came via deflection, but Burnley’s fight back after halftime was brief. Chelsea controlled the match and you’d hate to bear the brunt of what Sean Dyche will likely bring to the post match team talk.
3. Rodriguez scores stunning consolation goal: Pulisic wasn’t perfect, as he gave away the ball that led to Burnley’s goal with five minutes to play. And what a goal it was, as Rodriguez struck a swerving rocket from distance to flummox Arrizabalaga. What a hit. Memories in style and meaning of Daniel Williams for the USMNT against Brazil.
Despite an early injury which appeared to be to his head, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma made a nice clearance of a dangerously swung corner in the 13th minute.
Pulisic scored his first Premier League goal when he seized on that turnover and used his pace and craft to roll a shot past Pope.
That snapped Burnley to life, and Kepa Arrizabalaga was necessary in a sequence which saw the backstop paw away a shot through traffic.
Ashley Barnes badly missed a back post header which should’ve tied things up in the 30th minute.
Pulisic got his second with another powerful dribble through the heart of the attacking third, getting past Tarkowski and hitting a shot that took a turn off Ben Mee for 2-0.
Burnley came out of the dressing room with vigor. Barnes butchered a point blank chance to make it 2-1 in the 50th, the poacher not ready for prime time, and Jay Rodriguez sent a shot into the arms of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
That’s when Pulisic got his hat trick. After Burnley rejected a corner kick back to the taker, Mason Mount swept another cross into the mix and the American nodded it home.
Willian soon got in on the action with a low shot from the right, and Chelsea was home free.
Rodriguez scored his sensational goal off a Pulisic turnover, and McNeil’s heavily-deflected shot made it 4-2 with two minutes left.