The Blues are currently third in the league, but can’t afford to drop too many points with Arsenal and Tottenham breathing down their neck.
Here are three key battles that could decide the outcome when Burnley take on Chelsea.
#3 Johann Berg-Gudmundsson vs Marcos Alonso
It’s probably fair to say that Johann Berg-Gudmundsson is Burnley’s most important creative outlet in the final third. The Icelandic attacker has already registered four assists while scoring one goal in eight league matches. But most importantly, he also leads in terms of key passes (11) while only Jeff Hendrick only betters his tally of 14 attempted dribbles.
Gudmundsson’s attacking impetus will, therefore, be critical as Burnley will play on the counter against Chelsea. And the fact that the Icelandic international will come up against Marcos Alonso on the left flank could prove to be helpful for the Clarets.
The Spaniard showed his defensive vulnerability against Manchester United last weekend as Marcus Rashford often made darting runs. Similarly, Gudmundsson will be looking to take advantage of Alonso’s lack of defensive awareness when Burnley break.
#2 Steven Defour vs Jorginho
Jorginho looked complacent at times against United last weekend as he struggled to cope with United’s pressing in the second half. However, the Italian will look to make amends with a clinical display against Burnley this weekend.
And as far as Burnley are concerned, the onus will be on Steven Defour to keep Jorginho occupied throughout the game. The Belgian star made his first appearance in the league in the 5-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend and is expected to start over Ashley Westwood.
Despite Defour’s lack of involvement in this new season, his industry in midfield coupled with the offensive threat he possesses could be vital for Sean Dyche’s men this weekend.
Indeed, Defour can not only create chances but also operate as a midfield destroyer.
#1 James Tarkowski vs Alvaro Morata
Alvaro Morata needs to start delivering in front of goal. After a tough debut campaign with Chelsea, Morata has yet failed to perform in front of goal for the Blues this season as well.
The Spaniard has netted only two goals in eight matches this campaign which is unacceptable for a player of his calibre. Despite racking up 16 shots this season, his tally reflects his lack of composure in front of goal which needs to improve on if he is to maintain his long-term future at the Stamford Bridge. And a strong performance against Burnley could hand him a much-needed boost.
That being said, he will be facing a stern test of overcoming James Tarkowski this weekend. The 25-year-old English defender is a rock at the back and has been Burnley’s best defensive asset for the past 18 months or so. In fact, Tarkowski has already notched up 22 tackles, nine interceptions and 63 clearances.
Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Morata fares against a disciplined Tarkowski this weekend as he aims to redeem himself after a dull start to the season.
Stat courtesy: Whoscored