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REPORT: Chelsea 3 Burnley 0

Depleted Clarets unable to halt Chelsea's top-four charge

11 January 2020

The Clarets again found facing top-six opposition too big a gap to ‘Bridge’ as the 100th meeting between the sides went Chelsea’s way.

The build-up to the century has often gone well for the Clarets on their recent trips to West London and another positive result would have been a welcome way to end a three-game losing run in the Premier League.

But once a desperately tight VAR decision had denied Sean Dyche’s side a possible opening goal, Chelsea got their noses in front from the penalty spot and never looked back.

A depleted Burnley line-up didn’t throw in the towel but the habit of conceding soft goals to the division’s leading lights again proved costly.

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And with Chelsea adding further goals from England youngsters Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi either side of the break they enhanced their Champions League qualification hopes to leave the Clarets more concerned with the other end of the table.

With illness and injury in the camp, the Clarets were forced into a change of personnel and shape.

Ashley Barnes’ absence with an on-going groin problem was compounded by illness to Jay Rodriguez, which left Chris Wood - who collected an early bloodied nose for his troubles - as the lone striker and the returning Jeff Hendrick behind him for support.

Hendrick scored the Clarets’ goal of the season here last season as Burnley - this time also missing widemen Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Robbie Brady - secured the point that guaranteed their Premier League survival.

And the Irish international was unfortunate not to put the Clarets ahead again when he had the ball in the net at the same end of Stamford Bridge.

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Starting his 100th league game for Burnley, Hendrick nodded in at the far post after Ben Mee had headed a Dwight McNeil free-kick across goal – only for Mee to be judged offside by VAR when the line verdict looked far from cut and dried.

The Clarets had handled the best part of half an hour well but then handed Chelsea the lead via the penalty spot.

Matt Lowton – back in the side after Phil Bardsley had missed much of the week’s training – slid in to block from Willian but didn’t get the ball before colliding with the Brazilian who knew what was coming and was already on his way to ground.

Jorginho slotted home to give the Blues their first home goal in the Premier League since early December and the Clarets a different kind of test.

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The response was impressive as Dwight McNeil forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into a smart save at the foot of a post to keep out a long-range free-kick as the Clarets continued to threaten from set-pieces.

And from the second of back-to-back corners Mee was denied an equaliser when Ross Barkley blocked his goalbound header on the line.

But rather than go into the break just one goal behind, the Clarets found themselves 2-0 down five minutes before half-time when Reece James crossed for top scorer Abraham to head too easily past Nick Pope.

If that was a damaging blow, what followed five minutes into the second half took the game completely away from the visitors as Callum Hudson-Odoi stretched Chelsea’s lead.

A VAR check again delayed the verdict but once no contact was detected on Abraham’s head from a Cesar Azpilicueta cross, Hudson-Odoi’s close-range finish was allowed to stand.

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The Clarets at least made sure they didn’t go under from then on in as they enjoyed their fair share of possession in trying to gain some reward.

But the best chances still came the hosts’ way as Abraham brought a fine reflex save out of Pope from a near-post flick before heading wide from a Mason Mount cross when he should have hit the target.

Pope also saved well from Mount, while the Clarets, with Ali Koiki joining four defenders on the bench for his first taste of senior duty, made the only attacking change they could in the shape of Matej Vydra in a vain attempt to gain a late consolation ahead of next weekend’s visit of Leicester City when they will look to claim their first point against top-six foes this season.

Chelsea: Arrizabalga; James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Jorginho; Hudson-Odoi, Barkley, Mount, Willian; Abraham. Substitutes: Caballero, Pedro, Zouma, Kovacic, Batshuayi, Tomori, Emerson.

Booked: None

Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Lennon, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Hendrick (Vydra 73); Wood. Substitutes: Hart, Gibson, Pieters, Bardsley, Long, Koiki.

Booked: Westwood, Lennon

Referee: Kevin Friend

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