Chelsea grind out gritty draw against determined Burnley
Chelsea and Burnley drew 1-1 in a tense encounter in testing conditions at Turf Moor.
The home team were given a warning after five minutes when Diego Costa played in Eden Hazard who didn’t hit the ball cleanly and found only Tom Heaton’s midriff.
In the end it was Chelsea’s other buzzing inside forward Pedro who got the goal, taking a lovely first touch and scoring a typical ugly-but-effective finish after Victor Moses burst down the right.
Chants of “we’re top of the league” rang out as the game looked all but won after ten minutes. Eden Hazard was able to consistently find space on the break as Burnley were forced to push higher up in an attempt to score an equaliser.
The Clarets did grow into the half, Ashley Barnes slashing a shot wide as the sleet thickened and Chelsea let their intensity drop for a moment, but as half time approached the greatest concern for Antonio Conte was the fitness of David Luiz, who was visibly limping at times and looked to be struggling.
Then, from nowhere, Nemanja Matic tangled with Joey Barton on the edge of the box, and Burnley’s January signing from Norwich City Robbie Brady stepped up and took a stunning left footed free kick to send his side level.
It was just what Chelsea didn’t want. The crowd roared back into life and Burnley’s fires were reignited. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were suddenly isolated figures in the downpour. Andre Gray tested the wounded Luiz with a driving run down the channel, with the Brazilian unable to prevent his man playing a tempting low cross across the face of goal.
The pressure kept coming, with Thibaut Courtois preventing further damage with a fantastic save which itself launched a dangerous counter.
When the half time whistle did finally go, the game was in full flow and was a far cry from the dull affair that an early goal had presaged.
The second half started as the first had ended, and Nemanja Matic’s short backpass put David Luiz in trouble early on. The Brazilian missed the ball entirely but was saved when Gray over-excitedly hit his effort straight at Courtois.
Chelsea then struggled to create chances for a long period, with the introduction of Cesc Fabregas for Matic in the 67th minute a welcome injection of creativity. Victor Moses departed soon after, with Chelsea switching to a back four in search of a win as the 75th minute passed. But Burnley stayed tough and despite a couple of shaky moments were good value for their point.