Chelsea 2-2 Burnley: 5 Talking Points & Tactical Analysis | Premier League 2018-19 

Maurizio Sarri cut a frustrated figure during Chelsea's 2-2 draw against Burnley
Maurizio Sarri cut a frustrated figure during Chelsea's 2-2 draw against Burnley

Chelsea missed the chance of going third in the Premier League table after an enthralling yet demoralizing draw against Burnley at Stamford Bridge. The scoreline read 2-2, but Burnley levelled their opponents' score with just three shots on target in contrast to Chelsea's nine.

The Blues started on a bright note after their Europa League victory against Slavia Praha, but against the run of play, Jeff Hendrick gave Burnley the lead through a thunderous volley. N'Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain capped off two beautiful moves to restore Chelsea's advantage, but Ashley Barnes produced a leveller just 10 minutes later.

The hosts continued to press high and see the majority of the ball, but Burnley's stubborn organization and shape choked Chelsea, who couldn't replicate their first half form after the break.

On that note, let's analyze the five major points from the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Burnley.

#1 Chelsea start with intent but Burnley sting them with the opener

Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League
Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League

The Blues moulded into their configuration in no time, keeping all the possession in the opening minutes. The movement off the ball from the full backs and midfielders throughout the half was just as spectacular, as Eden Hazard produced the first shot of the game following a corner.

A string of passes resulted in Cesar Azpilicueta, who is well forward these days, winning a corner. Hazard's whip was cleared to an extent, but the ball fell to him. The Belgian shifted to his left and launched one, testing Tom Heaton. The ball ricocheted off a few players before a Claret finally cleared his lines.

Meanwhile, Hazard was looking lively, as he pulled the strings in various parts of the attacking third and roamed freely.

Gonzalo Higuain then made a fine run off the back of James Tarkowski, and Hazard's delightful chip found him, but his shot was cleared off the line by the heroic Ben Mee.

That very clearance led to the away side's first attack, due to which they won a corner. They managed to clear the first ball only to the edge of the 18-yard box, where an unmarked Hendrick lay in wait. He then waited for the ball to fall and stung a fierce volley, leaving the otherwise untested Kepa Arrizabalaga with no chance.

#2 Sarri-ball enters full flow as Chelsea score two in quick succession

Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League
Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League

Just six minutes and 14 seconds after Burnley's unexpected opening goal, Chelsea were back in front.

What was the most stimulating aspect of the game till then was the pace at which the home side were playing. There was more movement off the ball, more urgency and much more precision in the way they went about their passing.

The true ingredient and demand of Sarri-ball - quick passing - was seen to its best extent.

In the first goal, Hazard tricked Matthew Lowton inside out to lay it on a plate for N'Golo Kante, who smashed it to the top of the net. But it was the second goal that initiated awes around the stadium, when Higuain produced some fancy footwork on the edge of the box and Azpilicueta flicked it back to his path.

The 31-year-old forward then left Heaton stranded with a powerful strike.

#3 Zonal marking affects Chelsea as Burnley restore parity

Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League
Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League

In terms of applying the high press, positioning themselves in midfield and the aerial battles, Chelsea were largely astute. However, the biggest catalyst to their downfall last night was the zonal marking used by Maurizio Sarri.

Firstly, there was no need to place two players on either post with Burnley flooding the box. Next, the Blue shirts that set out to cover areas were too close to Arrizabalaga, meaning he couldn't come out of his lines and catch the ball comfortably.

In both the goals, we saw two-three Chelsea players covering zones and areas, but leaving players unmarked. The goal by Ashley Barnes was a clear testament to the above explanation, as the best men in defending set pieces - David Luiz and Andreas Christensen - were both locked at the center of the six-yard box, without a Burnley shirt near them.

Sean Dyche masterminded this move, knowing full well that if his players find the spaces that aren't covered by Chelsea, they have a realistic chance of threatening in front of goal.

As a result, Barnes on the far side, was not marked at all, with Luiz, Emerson and Christensen all in the middle. However, credit goes to Burnley for bringing this straight off the training ground.

#4 Second half woes continue for Chelsea

Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League
Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League

Chelsea have this tendency of dropping their intensity levels in the second half of matches. It has happened against Watford, Wolves, Spurs and most recently, Slavia Praha as well.

They were on a 4-1 advantage in their previous match, but after the break, Maurizio Sarri's men conceded two goals in what circulated as a mini-scare. Not to mention, they didn't score any goals either.

Earlier in his pre-match conference, Sarri hinted that he is still working on decoding why this happens to his players. Against Burnley too, they were nowhere as close as their first half display.

Credit goes to Burnley for stacking five men including Barnes in front of their back four and staying alert to every Chelsea move, but the Blues, who were carving passes between opposition players and cutting through the defence time and time again in the first half, were restricted to making more sideway passes and playing the waiting game.

The issue is clearly the lack of mentality. Perhaps, results around them, and the fact that a consistent run of form at Stamford Bridge seems like an age ago, has backfired on the players.

More so, there's a bitter sense of anxiety around the stadium every time they concede. All of a sudden, due to recent woes, West London doesn't sound loud at all.

#5 What next for Chelsea in terms of the top four race?

Can he steer his side to the Champions League spots?
Can he steer his side to the Champions League spots?

Courtesy better goal difference and a game in hand, Chelsea's fierce North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are favorites to occupy the third and fourth spot. Both sides lost their respective games, and it was all for the taking as far as the Pensioners were concerned, but they blew it away.

Unfortunately for the Blues, who have been horrendous on the road since the turn of the year, two out of their next three matches are away fixtures, one of them being against Manchester United.

They could have done the job and exerted pressure on the North London sides, but they didn't. Now, Arsenal and Spurs, with relatively easier fixtures and more stability in terms of producing results, are set to leapfrog Chelsea.

Europa League victory seems like the last chance for Maurizio Sarri to bring Champions League football back to the Bridge. And probably, save his job. And yes, keep Eden Hazard as well.

The next three fixtures, along with the Europa League semi-final and final, could define and shape a lot of things at Chelsea.

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Edited by Kingshuk Kusari
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