Hakim Ziyech on the mark again as rampant Chelsea swat aside Burnley

The new arrivals Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner were on the scoresheet and established performers such as Reece James and N’Golo Kanté also impressive as Burnley found themselves outclassed and Chelsea moved up to fourth in the table.

Tottenham had to work extremely hard for a win here at the start of the week but a star-studded and fluent Chelsea side made it look easy. Burnley were never in the contest, Chelsea’s passing rendering their usual physicality and directness superfluous, and though he will not find himself up against lavishly funded Champions League outfits every week, Sean Dyche must be worried with only a point to show for six matches and no goals yet scored at home.

Burnley almost got off to a flying start when Ashley Barnes stayed onside to collect Matt Lowton’s diagonal ball from halfway behind Kurt Zouma. After a reasonable first touch one would have put money on the striker to at least hit the target with only Édouard Mendy to beat, yet in lifting the ball over the goalkeeper Barnes managed to clear the bar as well.

The afternoon had already begun badly for the visitors when Christian Pulisic was injured in the warm-up, necessitating Timo Werner’s promotion from the bench to the left of Chelsea’s front three. Werner, Kai Havertz, Reece James and Hakim Ziyech laid siege to the Burnley penalty area in the first half-hour, testing their opponent’s defensive resolve with a series of penetrating passes and crosses, most of them aimed at Tammy Abraham in the middle. The centre-forward brought the first save of the game from Nick Pope with a looping header and might have opened the scoring midway through the first half but for an alert block by Charlie Taylor, but it was when Abraham laid the ball off with his back to goal that Chelsea made the breakthrough. Ziyech shot first time to beat a possibly unsighted Pope from the edge of the area and register his first Premier League goal. Pope will be unhappy at failing to keep out a less than thunderous strike that did not even find an unreachable corner of his goal, though he could only have seen the ball late as the shot came through Dale Stephens’ legs.

Werner had a chance to make it two on the stroke of the interval when he was in position for a simple far-post finish, only to see Kevin Long get just enough of a touch on the ball to produce a rebound ended up safely in Pope’s arms. Burnley could consider themselves unlucky to turn round just one goal down. Chelsea had not created a stream of chances, which might be a worry for Frank Lampard considering the overwhelming amount of possession they enjoyed, but they had barely allowed the home side a sniff of the ball outside their own half. Chris Wood and Barnes were virtual onlookers most of the time, with the latter even resorting to moving out wide to try and find space.

Nonetheless Dyche made an attacking substitution at half time, sending on a third striker in Jay Rodriguez in place of the toiling Stephens. It made little difference. Mason Mount brought a save from Pope after a spellbinding passing sequence that saw half a dozen Chelsea players find and re-find each other with impudent ease. It was the sort of free-flowing football that deserved a goal, though in fact it probably deserved a more incisive conclusion. Mount’s shot, when it came, was from the edge of the box.

Timo Werner guides the ball home for Chelsea’s third.

Timo Werner guides the ball home for Chelsea’s third. Photograph: Alex Pantling/AFP/Getty Images

For all their superiority Chelsea needed a second goal, a fact emphasised when Barnes shot wide and James Tarkowski too high around the hour mark. When it came, just a couple of minutes after those Burnley chances, it was not from flowing football but from the inability to defend a set piece that Dyche, an old centre-half, will find infuriating. Mount swung over a corner from the right and though Wood got a touch it was not decisive and in no way hampered an unmarked Zouma’s ability to score with a firm header.

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Within minutes it got worse for the home side as Ashley Westwood’s pass down the left was pounced on by James, who found Ziyech for a perfectly measured pass to set Werner free in the area. The former Leipzig player had time to transfer the ball to his right foot to give an exposed Pope no chance and suddenly Burnley were looking at a hiding. Though that never happened, Olivier Giroud being correctly flagged for offside after beating Pope with a fine finish, Chelsea are flying high again. Burnley are still looking for their first win, and it is Manchester City next.

The Guardian

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