Chelsea welcome an in-form Burnley team to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as they look for their first win under Thomas Tuchel. There were promising signs in the German’s first match in charge. Despite his minimal time working with the team, they managed to dominate possession, but there was a lack of clear-cut chances created. This will be the area that they are working on and there should be visible improvement this weekend. It won’t be an easy fixture, as Burnley are doing well at the moment with a victory at Anfield against Liverpool showing what they can do.
During the week, Tuchel decided to trust experience in his first starting eleven, with the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Jorginho and Olivier Giroud all being given an opportunity. There were some pleasing aspects, as they managed to have 78% possession. However, they didn’t create a single ‘big chance’, while their opponents Wolves created one. Chelsea have plenty of talent in the squad, but Tuchel needs time to find the best combination of players for his style of play. Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner will all be pushing for recalls this weekend, with all three capable of adding more cutting edge.
Burnley are on a good run of form that is seeing them move away from the bottom three. Despite their early season struggles, there was always a belief that the Clarets would move away from danger, as Sean Dyche has a proven track record in this division. It almost seems that he guarantees survival on a modest budget. They have now won their last two Premier League matches against Liverpool and Aston Villa. Both fixtures would have been seen as tricky ones, but Burnley managed to get positive results from both. Their improved position takes the pressure off this weekend.
Thiago Silva has played 25 home league matches under the management of Thomas Tuchel. He has not lost any of those matches. Chelsea will be hoping that the pair can build on that impressive record at Stamford Bridge.
Since his first Premier League match for Burnley, no player has scored more headed goals in the competition than Chris Wood with 15.
As the biggest problem in Tuchel’s first match in charge was a lack of clear-cut chances, Hakim Ziyech could be the most important player for him over the coming weeks. It was a quiet performance from the former Ajax player on Wednesday, but he is the most likely in the squad to create a moment of magic. During his time in the Eredivisie, he was a consistent performer in the Champions League, which showed that he could influence matches at the highest level. His time at Chelsea has been disrupted by injuries, but he is starting to build his match rhythm during recent weeks. It will be hoped that he can start to dominate matches in the final third under the tutelage of Tuchel. In his limited minutes, he has a goal and three assists in the Premier League. This should increase over the coming weeks in a more tactically-coherent team. Burnley will look to set up with a deep block and frustrate Chelsea. In Ziyech, the Blues have a creative midfielder capable of making a difference.
Despite having plenty of Premier League experience under his belt, it still seems that Dwight McNeil is underrated among the majority. This may be due to playing for an unfashionable team in Burnley, but Dyche and the supporters won’t mind that at all. It was his best performance of the season to date during the week, as he played a key role in the result. He managed to get a goal and an assist, albeit the goal was a fluke. Both goal involvements came from dangerous crosses into the area and that is the best quality that he possesses. Chelsea will be worried about the quality of his delivery, as Burnley have the physicality to cause them real issues from set pieces and crosses into the box. This will be an opportunity for McNeil to increase his own reputation in the game against a current Champions League team.
N’Golo Kante could be back for Chelsea, but it will be touch and go until kick-off. Tuchel may decide to err on the side of caution, due to Kante’s importance to the team. Mason Mount was a surprising omission on Wednesday, but he made an impact from the bench with his energy. He could be recalled on Sunday.
Charlie Taylor and Ashley Barnes are both doubts for the visitors, but it is hoped that neither injury will be too serious. Josh Brownhill picked up an impact injury and he is another that may not be fit to feature on Sunday.
This should be a home win, as it would be expected that there is further improvement from Chelsea after more time on the training ground with their new manager. Although Burnley managed to beat Aston Villa during the week, they did concede several clear-cut chances and the underlying statistics show they were somewhat fortunate to come away with three points. The home side should have the talent to pick up a first win for Tuchel.
Chelsea 2-0 Burnley