Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chelsea cruise past Clarets

An assured and dominant display by Chelsea in West London proved too much for the Premier League's surprise package to date as Burnley left the capital with only a 3-0 defeat for their efforts.

In claiming a fourth successive league victory Chelsea showed ue victory Chelsea showed ue victory Chelsea showed fluidity and ease of movement throughout that suggests they are enjoying life under the gregarious Carlo Ancelotti. Goals either side of half-time from Nicolas Anelka and Michael Ballack were trumped by a stunning third from Ashley Cole.

Burnley's efforts to play an attractive brand of football of their own were commendable, if ultimately fruitless, as Owen Coyle's declaration not to park the proverbial bus at Stamford Bridge made for an entertaining and open first half.

Indeed had Martin Paterson shown a modicum of composure to match that of his team-mate, Tyrone Mears, in presenting him with a clear sight on goal after dispossessing Frank Lampard, Burnley would have taken a first-half lead totally against the run of play. Instead he dragged his shot meekly wide as Burnley's afternoon, like Paterson's nerve, was shot.

Prior to Paterson's miss it was a case of 'thou shall not pass the Beast' as Chelsea were repeatedly thwarted by the sprawling and not unsubstantial mass of Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen.

Lampard, Ballack and Anelka were all guilty of profligacy in front of goal as Jensen made sterling saves, to keep Chelsea at bay for all but the dying seconds of the first period.

Slack play at the back allowed Anelka the first sniff of goal but his heavy second touch when through on goal allowed Jensen to scramble off his line to frustrate the Frenchman. Burnley were far from daunted though, as Chris McCann's surging run from midfield concluded with a stabbed effort a yard or so over before Paterson's moment to forget.
Patience key

As Chelsea's pride was pricked by their visitors' impertinence, Terry's snapshot from a corner tested Jensen's agility further before the giant custodian had Ballack scratching his head in bewilderment as he denied the impressive German from close range.

Chelsea kept playing their football as Ancelotti urged patience from the sidelines and their superiority, possession wise, was finally recognised on the scoreboard when in injury time Anelka struck.

Michael Essien's through ball cut through Burnley's backline with the precision of a Saville Row tailor, while Drogba's whipped low ball across goal was bespoke for Anelka to slide home behind a despairing Clarke Carlisle.

If Chelsea teased their prey for much of the first half they went for the jugular at the start of the second. Just two minutes had elapsed when Ballack made sure of a profitable home return as he dived to head Lampard's delicate clipped cross past Jensen from around eight yards. Anelka, immaculate in his build-up play all afternoon, deserves mention for his bright delayed pass that made space for Lampard down the left.

While Chelsea's first two goals were examples of fine team play, their third was the product of Ashley Cole's making alone.

After feeding the ball into Lampard the buccaneering left-back made inroads into Burnley's box and after taking his team-mate's angled pass in his stride he let fly with a searing, angled finish of perfection that rasped past Jensen into the top corner.


With Burnley deflated by Chelsea's all consuming dominance the home side began to take pot-shots at Jensen, who continued to excel. Essien was twice denied, the first with an accurate daisy-cutter from the edge of the box, before a full-blooded drive was tipped over the top.

Drogba left the field to a standing ovation with a quarter of an hour left on the clock, before a linesman's flag denied Anelka's second of a productive afternoon. Mears then saved Burnley's blushes further when his excellent goal line clearance prevented substitute Salomon Kalou from making it four.

Burnley will learn from their lesson in the capital but their footballing ideals should not be compromised by a comprehensive defeat. After all, there is no disgrace in losing to a side who on this showing would be worthy champions come May.

Chelsea Team Statistics Burnley
3 Goals 0
1 1st Half Goals 0
15 Shots on Target 0
10 Shots off Target 3
8 Blocked Shots 1
10 Corners 1
9 Fouls 5
3 Offsides 1
0 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
86.5 Passing Success 72.2
26 Tackles 32
80.8 Tackles Success 68.8
60.5 Possession 39.5
57.2 Territorial Advantage 42.8


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