Not many teams have tested Chelsea’s three-man defence this season, but Burnley showed there is a way to get at Antonio Conte’s side.
The Clarets were extremely clever in Sunday’s 1-1 draw, especially in the way they targeted Chelsea’s left flank, which is far less disciplined defensively than their right side.
Eden Hazard always wanders inside from the left – far more than Pedro does when he starts on the right – which is what happened at Turf Moor
That leaves Chelsea’s left wing-back Marcus Alonso to advance up the pitch and give them an option wide on that flank.
But, with Hazard often on the opposite side of the pitch, Alonso is sometimes left isolated when the Blues lose possession.
Alonso is also not as strong as their right wing-back Victor Moses when it comes to getting back to help his centre-halves. I look at him and think he is more of a left winger.
It is a weak spot because it leaves space to exploit if teams can get the ball into that channel behind Alonso, but you usually have to do it quickly.
Burnley managed it early on by playing long balls up to Andre Gray that forced Gary Cahill and David Luiz to come out wide, out of their comfort zone.
The Clarets had more success in the second half when Ashley Barnes intercepted a Chelsea header down that flank, with Alonso further up the pitch, and Hazard over on the right.
Cahill should have done better with his challenge on Barnes inside the Burnley half, and Luiz should have cut out the cross after Barnes had burst forward – but the ball still found Gray, who missed an excellent chance to put his side ahead.
Burnley got their tactics exactly right on Sunday. Their attitude was spot-on too.
Their game plan, and the way they executed it, was an example of how the right system and attitude gives you a chance when you are facing a side with more technical quality.
Chelsea are always well organised under Conte as well, of course, but they struggled to control the game because of Burnley’s approach.
The Blues’ goal at Turf Moor was typical of the clinical counter-attacking play that has helped take Conte’s side to the top of the table.
But the speed of Burnley’s own transition from defence to attack meant they created chances that way too, especially in the first half.
Sean Dyche’s side played a lot of long balls right from the start of the game, but they did not just lump the ball forward for the sake of it. Those passes had a purpose.
It meant they bypassed midfield – an area where Dyche knew his side would be over-powered – and got the ball to Burnley’s two strikers as quickly as possible.
Burnley were attacking very well for a lot of the game but those long balls were also a defensive tactic. They stretched the play.
Instead of Chelsea winning back possession in midfield and launching attacks from there, which is what they wanted to do, they had to come at them from much further back.
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