10-Man Clarets Snatch Late Point, Add To Chelsea Woes


The angst gripping Chelsea will not disappear until they learn how to manage games. Immaturity was key to Mauricio Pochettino’s side failing to make the most of Cole Palmer’s brilliance and somehow contriving to slip to a costly 2-2 draw with 10-man Burnley, who still have hope of staying up after extending their unbeaten run to three matches.

Burnley, their numbers reduced after Lorenz Assignon’s first-half red card, fought hard for a point. Chelsea led twice, Palmer scoring both of their goals, but they remain in 11th place after more poor defending. Pochettino will wince at the fact that his side have conceded twice in each of their past five games. He could not be surprised to hear boos after Burnley, who remain in the bottom three, held on thanks to goals from Josh Cullen and Dara O’Shea.

Chelsea remain a hard team to work out. Some numbers suggest that they should be higher in the table, a point not lost on Pochettino, and they look good when everything goes their way. Confidence was not an issue when Palmer put Chelsea ahead with an impudent penalty a minute before the end of an agreeably open period.

Yet it was hard to look past the gaps at the other end. The crowd, while mostly supportive after recent unrest in the stands, still exuded angst whenever Burnley found room in the final third. Jacob Bruun Larsen and Lyle Foster sent efforts off target when the game was goalless. Djordje Petrovic made a fine save from Wilson Odobert.

Of course, Burnley’s willingness to play suited Chelsea. It was not long before Palmer was causing mischief. The Chelsea playmaker operated a shoot-on-sight policy during the first 20 minutes. He was unlucky not to open the scoring from Malo Gusto’s cutback, while there were openings for Nicolas Jackson and Enzo Fernández. Burnley needed their goalkeeper, Arijanet Muric, to be in inspired form.

Burnley often looked stretched, particularly when Chelsea countered, and Assignon struggled against Mykhailo Mudryk. The winger, who secured Ukraine’s place at Euro 2024, could have had an assist when his cross reached the far post, only for John Brooks, the VAR, to spot that Axel Disasi had turned the ball into the net with an arm.

Chelsea kept finding Mudryk, whose first thought was also to go forward. Assignon’s first booking came after Mudryk broke out of a tight spot with a delightful piece of footwork. Mudryk had the beating of the Burnley right-back. Instead of allowing their level to drop after a slew of missed chances, Chelsea kept pressing against that weak spot. The key moment of the half, Assignon fouling Mudryk for the penalty, felt inevitable.

Not that it stopped Burnley from seeing injustice. Assignon was in a bad defensive position, but contact with Mudryk was soft and Vincent Kompany raged when Darren England, the referee, showed the defender a second booking after pointing to the spot.

Cole Palmer opens the scoring for Chelsea from the penalty spot in the 44th minute. Photograph: Paul Phelan/ProSports/Shutterstock
Burnley’s manager, still rocking his Kendall Roy look, looked like he had lost a key boardroom vote after the VAR upheld the decision. Palmer, meanwhile, stayed calm. He watched as Kompany was sent from the touchline for his protests; then he duped Muric with a gleeful Panenka.

Game over? You don’t know Chelsea very well. The 10 men were level when Cullen latched on to a knockdown in the 47th minute and looped a brilliant shot past Petrovic from 20 yards. Chelsea, missing 10 players through injury, began to wobble. Passes went astray and they could have trailed when Benoît Badiashile lost Foster, only for Petrovic to repel the striker’s header.

The response came from Mudryk, whose shot was blocked, before Muric denied Jackson. Pochettino, hands in his pockets, mooched around his technical area. He brought Noni Madueke on for Conor Gallagher and waited for Chelsea to show composure against Burnley’s deep defence.

Burnley were fighting for everything, O’Shea and Maxime Estève holding firm in central defence. Chelsea looked to Palmer to seize responsibility. They were ahead when Raheem Sterling, given a huge ovation when introduced for Moisés Caicedo, flicked Fernández’s pass to Palmer, who lifted the tension by drilling a nerveless shot beyond Muric.

Yet Pochettino was soon shaking his head again. Palmer conceded a free-kick on the left and Burnley won a corner, which was taken by Cullen and headed in at the near post by O’Shea.

Could Petrovic, who got both hands to the ball, have done better? The same question could have been asked of the entire Chelsea team. Burnley, who endured Sterling missing a glaring chance for 3-2, even could have won it when Jay Rodriguez headed against the bar with two minutes to go.