Dwight McNeil

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Burnley

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Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea can climb third in the Premier League with a defeat of improved Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are the first team to play their 35th match in the group of four Premier League clubs vying for third- and fourth-place this season.

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Burnley meanwhile knows a win would seal its already-likely place in the Premier League for 2019-20. Even a draw would probably do the trick given Cardiff City’s immense disadvantage in goal differential.

It’s really a must-win for the Blues’ Top Four hopes, because Chelsea will want cushion given a four-match PL, Europa League run of Manchester United, Eintracht Frankfurt, Watford, and Eintracht Frankfurt again.

What they’re saying

Chelsea boss Sarri on the Europa-PL schedule congestion: “It’s not easy for us, we have to play only four matches but we have to try. I think in the last four matches it will be difficult for every team involved in fighting for the top four, not only for us. And so we can see some very strange results in the last part of the season; we have to fight and to see at the end.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on transfer rumors for young star Dwight McNeil: “His worth to the team I’m more interested in, and that’s the way he’s delivering performances. I like his assuredness, he’s quiet, he’s calm, but there’s a toughness in there, particularly to have the ball. That’s something that can come and go with players, but he’s certainly got that desire to grip a game with the ball, ‘give me the ball, I want to do something’. That’s a powerful thing.”

Prediction

The Clarets will put up a good fight, but the extra day’s rest will be plenty for Chelsea, who may just claim a Top Four place and the Europa League… if it can deal with a tricky finish to the season. The tough run of fixtures means the Blues know at home to Burnley is a must-win. Chelsea, 3-0.

Watford, Burnley scrap to scoreless draw

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  • Burnley has late goal called offside
  • Clarets three clear of 18th
  • Watford 7th with 33 points

Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote that “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”

Watford and Burnley flipped that on its ear with plenty of pain and an absence of beauty in a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but this first anecdote does make a fine claim in Vonnegut’s favor.

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Watford’s Jose Holebas threw the ball to Tom Cleverley, who passed it back to Holebas. The Greek international than thumped a volley into Cleverley’s stomach.

The hosts were lively from the opening kick, with Troy Deeney and Ken Sema nearly working a ball over the line in the first quarter hour.

Dwight McNeil hit a second half chance to make it 1-0 over the frame, and hit a shot that Chris Wood put home late but was judged to be offside.

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Clarets leap out of drop zone, leave Terriers buried

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  • Mounie scores rare goal
  • Wood, Barnes answer
  • Schindler sent off

Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes scored as Burnley scrapped past Huddersfield Town 2-1 in a game which finished with 10 men on the field for each side at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Steve Mounie scored for Huddersfield, who held an early lead. The Terriers are eight points adrift of 17th.

Burnley moves ahead of the drop zone, level on 18 points with three teams.

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Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl stopped Ben Mee and Ashley Barnes as the match took on some life before the half-hour mark.

Festive nuttiness took a real turn when Isaac Mbenza‘s cross was put home by Mounie, the first goal by an out-and-out Terriers striker this season.

A pair of in-form players made it 1-1, as 19-year-old Dwight McNeil built on his first Premier League goal by assisting Wood.

Christoph Schindler took his second yellow card before the break, but the hosts in a bind.

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Philip Billing headed the ball onto Burnley defender Mee’s arm in the second half, and the non-call could’ve gone either way.

The Clarets got their advantage back in the 74th minute through Barnes, set-up by a very much in-form Ashley Westwood.

Brady was sent off in the final throes of the match, a sliding takedown of Mbenza his downfall.

Burnley cruises past West Ham United

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  • Heaton keeps clean sheet
  • Westwood sets up two goals
  • McNeil becomes first Burnley teen to score PL goal

Dwight McNeil and Chris Wood scored first half goals as Burnley moved closer to safety with a 2-0 defeat of disappointing West Ham United on Sunday at Turf Moor.

Burnley now has the same amount of points as 17th place Southampton, but is behind by seven in goal differential.

West Ham has lost two-straight and is 11th.

Tom Heaton kept his first Premier League clean sheet since Sept. 10, 2017, which was also his last Premier League start.

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Burnley took the lead through Wood, who hammered a near-perfect headed pass from Ashley Barnes past Fabianski. It was a gorgeous combination, started by Tom Heaton and well-aided by the long pass of Ashley Westwood.

Service from Westwoodd nearly leaded to 2-0, but his corner kick was popped just over the goal by the head of Ben Mee.

Burnley got its two-goal advantage through 19-year-old McNeil, who slid to knock in another fine bit of playmaking from Westwood.

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Wood completely whiffed on a Barnes set-up in the first minute of the second half, and West Ham cleared the danger and the ensuing corner.

He missed another bid to score when Westwood fed him 1v1 with Fabianski, slipping the ball under the keeper but wide.

Andy Carroll‘s halftime introduction was a big move for Manuel Pellegrini, and he forced a save out of Heaton in the 67th.