Pre-match analysis: Burnley look to protect fortress Turf Moor from the Chelsea siege

Pre-match analysis: Burnley look to protect fortress Turf Moor from the Chelsea siege

The visitors are currently running away with the Premier League, holding a cushion of nine points.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

Burnley may hold one of their best home records in the top flight with 28 points from 13 games, yet their Turf Moor form will be severely tested by a Chelsea side boasting the best Premier League away record this season.

Home strikers must work the channels

Chelsea are also just one of two teams alongside Tottenham Hotspur who have earned more home points than Burnley this campaign. Antonio Conte's winning formula is no secret, using his trusty 3-4-3 variation with minimal changes to the starting eleven.

It is tough to find a weakness in the squad of the champions elect, thus Burnley will have to take any chances that fall their way. David Luiz looks a more composed central defender after returning to the club for a second spell, allowed more freedom to play in a three-pronged defence between Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill. Burnley like to play direct though the likes of Sam Vokes, Andre Gray and/or Ashley Barnes but will find very little change in the air against Chelsea's defence. However, such a formation allows the hosts to have an opportunity to work the channels through their willing runners up front.

Every blade of grass will be covered by two energetic midfield quartets

Sunday's fixture could be a great opportunity for Sean Dyche to integrate record signing Robbie Brady for a debut. The wide player will provide added support with his defensive capabilities to Stephen Ward. Both Ward and Matt Lowton have been susceptible to mistakes this season and will be tested to the limit by the quality and workrate of Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso on the flanks. Support from the likes of Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson or George Boyd will be vital for the hosts.

Burnley's engine room will also be just as busy with another potential debutant in Ashley Westwood in contention for a start. With Jeff Hendrick suspended, Westwood could form a combative partnership with Joey Barton who this week suggested N'golo Kante is "the best central midfielder in the Premier League". Sparks will be flying in a fiery central midfield quartet that is also likely to include Nemanja Matic. This area of the pitch could be where the game is won and loss on Sunday.

Brady's energy will be crucial to Burnley (photo: Getty Images)
Brady's energy will be crucial to Burnley (photo: Getty Images)

Burnley have to phase out the gaps between defence and midfield

Westwood and Brady could have two roles to consider. Not only will they have to bypass Matic when they get on the ball and somehow thwart the endless energy of Kante, but they will also be tasked with looking over their shoulders and picking up the movements of Eden Hazard and Pedro who will be looking to play in between the lines. Burnley must cloud out this space or expect Tom Heaton to be in for a busy evening.

Diego Costa leads the Chelsea line and will enjoy another physical battle against Michael Keane. On his day, Costa can require two men to keep tabs on him, though if he is off form it could free up Ben Mee to get tighter to Pedro or Hazard. 

If Burnley can earn something from Sunday's fixture they will be left in no doubt that they were in a contest. Every single player will have to put in a shift but if there is any squad in the Premier League that can achieve such a feat, it is Dyche's Burnley.

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