Chelsea lit up Burnely for a 4-2 victory at Turf Moor Saturday, led by a Christian Pulisic hat-trick with a fourth added later by Willian. It could have been a total domination if the Blues hadn’t gotten sloppy in the final stages of the game. Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil pulled two back for the Clarets in the final five minutes making it an unnecessarily nervy ending.
That’s seven wins in a row for Chelsea in all competitions as the team continues to take shape under Frank Lampard.
Here are the three takeaways from the game.
Pulisic Breaks Out
Take a bow, Pulisic. Take. A. Bow.
The USMNT star has picked up steam and gained confidence in the past few weeks and finally earned his starting role back. And boy did he do it emphatically, making Burnley the unfortunate victim. He was the spark that drove Chelsea’s attack all day and netted a perfect hat-trick while he was at it. One goal with his left foot. One with his right. And one with his head.
In the process, he became the youngest American to score a hat trick in the Premier League (the only other being Clint Dempsey) and became Chelsea’s youngest hat-trick scorer. Just as he set records in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, he’s off and running in the Premier League, set to do the same.
Some had written him off after losing his starting role and then getting dropped out of the 18 in the Champions League. But he’s pushed that adversity to the side in a big way. He fought his way back into the team with a garbage time assist against Southampton, and then followed it up with a hockey assist against Newcastle and the winning assist in Europe over Ajax. And all three times, he was an impact sub.
Now in his first start back in the XI, he ran the show all day. An incredible performance. A great showing of character and resilience. And he deserved the match ball.
Take a bow, Christian. Welcome to the Premier League!
Young Talent In, Veterans Out
The youngsters at Chelsea aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re kicking out the veterans. Tammy Abraham (22), Mason Mount (20), and Fikayo Tomori (21), have cemented their places in the starting XI with standout performances. And Pulisic, not an academy graduate, but still only 21, made a strong case for his spot today.
And in so doing, veterans, and World Cup winners mind you, Pedro and Olivier Giroud are kept on the bench. On top of that, other veterans are getting replaced. Willian came off for Callum Hudson-Odoi in a straight swap against Burnley. Defender Reece James came on for Marcos Alonso. But more importantly, captain Cesar Azpilicueta moved to left back as James was given the right back assignment.
The young James didn’t play out of position. The captain got told to play out of position. Granted, Azpilicueta played left back for quite a while at Chelsea and has even played as a right sided center back, so clearly, he’s versatile and able to play multiple positions. Regardless, the youngster played his natural position while the veteran made way.
The young players at Chelsea are not only playing, but thriving and making veterans fight for any scraps of game time they can get.
Defensive Issues Persist
It was close, but wasn’t a perfect game for Chelsea. The first Burnley goal started off a poor giveaway from Pulisic and concluded with a wonder strike from Rodriguez. And the second from McNeil has to leave manager Frank Lampard disappointed.
You can chalk it up to garbage time and losing concentration by Chelsea in a thrashing. However, defensive issues and mistakes have been the Blues’ Achilles heel all season. Most of the time, it came from set pieces. Burnley’s, on the other hand were from open play, but it’s the same difference.
Their run of consecutive clean sheets ends at two and surely Lampard will address it with the team and try to iron out the problems before they start to haunt Chelsea again as they did at the beginning of the year.
All in all, a comprehensive victory for Chelsea and they continue their great run of form.