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Preview: Chelsea vs. Burnley - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Chelsea vs. Burnley - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Monday's Premier League meeting between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge.
By , Senior Reporter | 5mo

Chelsea's quest for a top-four finish in the Premier League continues on Monday evening with the visit of Burnley to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues booked a place in the semi-finals of the Europa League in midweek and attention now turns back to the top flight, with four teams battling for third and fourth place.


Into the last four of the Europa League and still on course for a Champions League spot for next season, Maurizio Sarri's debut campaign in West London could still end on a real high.

Midfield star N'Golo Kante believes that going all the way on the continent, by first overcoming Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals and then one of Arsenal or Valencia in the final, will make this a "beautiful" season.

Supporters may disagree but, in a campaign when the Londoners have so often been the crisis club of choice in the media, Sarri has shown the importance of being given some time.

Since earning a fortunate 2-1 win at Cardiff City at the end of March, a game that saw away fans call for their manager's head, Chelsea have racked up a further four wins from five matches in all competitions.

The most recent of those victories was a 4-3 second-leg win over Slavia Prague in the Europa League semis, though even that win - sealing a 5-3 aggregate success - came with its negatives as Chelsea once again crumbled early in the second period.

Petr Sevcik struck twice in the first 10 minutes after the restart to drag Slavia within two goals of their opponents, having been four behind at the interval, though it was not exactly a nervy finish for the Blues as they had already done the hard work.

Still, Sarri confessed to being baffled by his side's inability to see matches through, having developed a habit of shipping goals early in the second half of matches, as has been the case against Liverpool, Everton, Cardiff and Wolverhampton Wanderers over the last month.

Monday's match against lowly Burnley provides Chelsea with a chance to put a routine win on the board and remain in sight of the top four, who all play the day before, and their home form suggests that this should be a banker of sorts.

The Blues have lost just one of their last 20 home league games - 1-0 against Leicester City in December - and no side has conceded fewer home goals in the Premier League this term than the Blues (10, the same as Liverpool).

Recent form in Premier League: DLWWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWLW


It has been far from a vintage year for Burnley, especially after finishing seventh last season, but another campaign of Premier League football was all but confirmed with last week's 2-0 win over Cardiff.

A couple of key refereeing decisions went the Clarets' way, which Sean Dyche argued was fortune balancing itself out, and in the end a Chris Wood double proved enough to stick three more points on the board.

Burnley have now won three matches in a row, also beating Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bournemouth prior to their six-pointer with Cardiff, which leaves them a healthy eight points above the dropzone after playing the same number of matches as the 18th-placed Bluebirds.

The winning run came at the best possible time, too, as Dyche's men follow up their trip to Chelsea with games against Manchester City (H), Everton (A) and Arsenal (H). Three points from that run would surely be considered a decent return.

This is the second time that Burnley have won three consecutive league games this season, also doing so as 2018 turned to 2019. They last won more in a row in the competition in April 2018, stringing together five victories in a row to seal a place in Europa League qualifying.

European football next season has long been out of the equation, of course, but Dyche can at least afford to relax a little more, knowing that just one draw is required to reach the magic 40-point mark.

Even if his side were to lose their remaining four matches, though, they will still almost certainly stay afloat, highlighting the importance of last week's victory at home to Cardiff.

Burnley's improved form this calendar year has coincided with the promotion of Dwight McNeil into the first time. The youngster has been directly involved in eight Premier League goals this season (three goals, five assists) - the joint-most of any teenager in the competition, along with Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon.

The last teenager to score a Premier League goal against Chelsea, incidentally, was Marcus Rashford for Manchester United in April 2017.

Recent form in Premier League: LLLWWW

Team News

Chelsea's star man Eden Hazard limped off in the second half of Thursday's win against Slavia Prague, but Sarri has allayed any fears of a possible layoff and the Belgian forward should be fit to start here.

Olivier Giroud was given 90 minutes in that Europa League tie, but Sarri has hinted that the striker cannot play two games in a row so Gonzalo Higuain should return for this one, assuming the Italian does not continue with the experiment of using Hazard through the middle.

There is also a decision to be made over who starts in the wide positions as Pedro starred against Slavia, but Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi are also pushing for a start.

Sarri will be unable to call upon Antonio Rudiger due to an injury sustained against Liverpool last weekend, meanwhile, and Marcos Alonso is also carrying a knock, making the decision to use Emerson Palmieri at left-back a simple one.

As for the visitors, they remain without Peter Crouch, Aaron Lennon and Steven Defour, while Phil Bardsley is doubtful after missing the last few weeks with a leg injury.

Ashley Barnes and Wood, who has scored more Premier League goals than any other Burnley player (20) since the start of last season, have linked well in recent weeks and seem certain to start in tandem again on Monday.

In fact, with no fresh injury concerns, Dyche is unlikely to make any changes to a winning formula, meaning another start for in-form winger McNeil out wide.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Christensen, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Willian, Higuain, Hazard

Burnley possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood

Head To Head

Chelsea have won six of their nine Premier League matches against Burnley, though they did lose this corresponding fixture 3-2 on the opening day of last season.

That was the Clarets' only win in their last 11 trips to Stamford Bridge in all competitions, losing seven of those. They have not won back-to-back games there since December 1961.

The reverse fixture in October finished 4-0 to the Blues, with Morata, Ross Barkley, Willian and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all registering at Turf Moor six months ago.

We say: Chelsea 2-0 Burnley

Chelsea, beaten in only one of their 20 Premier League matches played on a Monday at Stamford Bridge, cannot afford to lose ground in the race for a top-four finish. Defeat at Liverpool last weekend may have halted their momentum slightly, but the Blues recovered by progressing in Europa on Thursday and they should have enough in the tank to overcome Burnley.

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