Having barely got what they needed in Paris mid-week, Chelsea return to the comforts of Stamford Bridge today (Saturday), to face a Burnley squad trying to fight their way out of the relegation spots.
The frontrunners in the Premier League, Chelsea scraped out a 1-1 draw at Paris-St. Germain in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash Tuesday. Branislav Ivanovic netted the crucial away goal for the Pensioners, but it was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who made sure Chelsea would have the advantage for the return match – making multiple quality saves to deny Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from giving the French side a go-ahead goal in the first 90 minutes.
”The second half was their half. They were losing, they put pressure on us,” manager Jose Mourinho said.
”If you go to chances created, and the goalkeeper’s performances, we have to be honest and say they had more.”
Not everything was positive from Paris, however, as the team put out a public plea for witnesses to a racist chant allegedly made by Chelsea fans en route to Tuesday’s match.
According to video posted online by the Guardian newspaper, a black man was twice pushed back from entering a train, and the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation Wednesday.
Though Chelsea did not have the added burden of playing an FA Cup match prior to facing PSG, Mourinho may be well-served to utilise his full roster and make some changes ahead of this match versus the Clarets.
“Since the Everton game, (Eden) Hazard, Willian, Oscar, (Cesc) Fabregas and Ivanovic haven’t trained,” Mourinho said.
“They did some individual training to keep moving but they didn’t train. They tried and gave their best.”
It is possible either Loic Remy or Didier Drogba could start up front to give Diego Costa a rest, while new signing Juan Cuadrado may get a second league start to further integrate himself into the team. In the backline, Kurt Zouma may find himself back in the starting XI at the expense of Gary Cahill, who teamed with John Terry in central defence on Tuesday.
Burnley are second-to-last in the table with 21 points, but only three behind Sunderland for 15th.
The road has been unkind to the Clarets, who have gone winless in six (0-2-4) since defeating Stoke City on Nov. 22 for their lone triumph away from Turf Moor, but the optimism from their play in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United on Feb. 11 – when they conceded two goals on set pieces and the third from the penalty spot – has Michael Duff thinking Burnley have nothing to lose for this trip to London.
“It’s a free hit,” Duff told Burnley’s official website. “We don’t given a chance against many teams away from home, but look at the performance against Manchester United.
“We know against Chelsea they have some good players, and it’s going to be difficult. We probably have to produce a similar performance to get any sort of result, which is what we will be trying to do.”
Chelsea have been near-invincible at Stamford Bridge in league play, with the only two dropped points coming in their 1-1 draw versus top chasers Manchester City on Jan. 31. The Blues have outscored opponents 26-4 and have conceded just two goals while going 4-1-0 in their last five matches since a 5-3 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on New Year’s Day.
Burnley got off to a dream start in the reverse fixture on Opening Day as Scott Arfield fired them to a 1-0 lead on 14 minutes. Costa equalised three minutes after that and Cesc Fabregas set up Andre Schurrle and Ivanovic shortly thereafter as Chelsea recorded a 3-1 win.
The Pensioners have won all three league meetings between the teams by an 8-2 aggregate.
Source: ScoreMobile FC
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