PMB: Chelsea v Burnley - tactics

We conclude our Pre-Match Briefing for today’s game against Burnley…



Antonio Conte must determine whether Alvaro Morata is fine-tuned enough to start ahead of, or alongside, Michy Batshuayi. The in-form Belgian is on a run of four goals in three league matches, beginning with the strike that won us the league at the Hawthorns.

Another arrival, Toni Rudiger, might indirectly help the Italian solve his right wing-back issue, with Victor Moses suspended today. The Germany international can play anywhere across the back, permitting right centre-back Cesar Azpilicueta to shift further forward.

Chelsea’s other new signing, Willy Caballero, will do well to displace Golden Glove winner Thibaut Courtois in nets but, with the extra workload for the champions this season, his time will also come.

Overall, our head coach stuck to the successful and influential 3-4-3 formula during the summer’s pre-season games, but lots of tactical work has gone on behind closed doors. When he returns from injury, Tiemoue Bakayoko with his drive and dribbling will offer the champions more possibilities to break down opponents who ‘park the bus’ and to open up play.

Sadly, two of the men who would most benefit from those qualities, Pedro and Eden Hazard, are out with ankle injuries. Conte may look to Jeremie Boga or Charly Musonda for some of that x-factor during this game. 

Turning to the visitors, Sean Dyche secured a second successive season of Premier League football for Burnley by working on his team’s physical and mental resilience, helping make them hard to beat.

He has since lured two battle-hardened Stoke men, right-back Phil Bardsley and 33-year-old forward Jon Walters, to the claret-coloured corner of Lancashire.

Also incoming are 23-year-old left-back Charlie Taylor from Leeds and central midfielder Jack Cork, a former Blue. Now 28, Cork spent two loan spells at Turf Moor while a youngster at Chelsea and made the permanent switch this summer.

The most significant departures from Turf Moor were Watford-bound striker Andre Gray and highly-regarded Michael Keane, now an Everton defender. If Gray was the main implementer of Dyche’s high-pressing approach, the new arrivals suggest a switch to a more counter-attacking set-up.

Cork is adept at playing through-balls to willing runners, and the new full-backs like to raid forward. Walters is equally happy ploughing a lone furrow upfront or dropping deeper to harass opposing midfielders.

Last season, Dyche mostly maintained his favoured 4-4-2, playing with caution even against the less star-studded sides in order to earn the points that allowed the Clarets to retain their top-flight status.

He adopted a more conservative 4-5-1 against top-six teams, defending deep and allowing opponents to dominate the ball, hoping to nick a goal on the break, even at home.

When Burnley beat Liverpool at home, a year ago this month, they registered the lowest possession by a winning side since the statistic was first recorded in 2003/04: 19.4 per cent.

Possession without producing is pointless, Dyche observed afterwards. He is likely to retain the same pragmatic defence, with long diagonal balls to wide men, in this campaign.  

Pre-Match Quiz




Eden Hazard (ankle)

Pedro (ankle)

Tiemoue Bakayoko (knee)


Dean Marney (ACL)


Victor Moses (one match)