Chelsea Must Stand Tall or Burnley Will Roll Them Over
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Chelsea Must Stand Tall or Burnley Will Roll Them Over

Fifth place probably should not be viewed as a disaster, but as far as Chelsea are concerned it most certainly is.

Unless Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur suffer a meltdown in the final weeks of the season, Chelsea will fail to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League. For a club of the resources of the Blues, that will be viewed as a disaster.

In Antonio Conte, the Blues have a manager who is a dead-man walking and will be on his way out of Stamford Bridge in the summer.

Put all that into the mix, and it’s tough to see what motivation the Chelsea players have for the final five games of the season. In fairness, they summoned desire from deep down at the weekend to fight back from two goals down to beat Southampton 3-2.

Whether they can continue to find that level is debateable, and a trip to Burnley on Thursday – which is immediately before Chelsea play an FA Cup semi-final – is a vastly different test to the one at Southampton.

Sean Dyche’s Burnley have had what can best be described as an interesting season. They made a rapid start, went missing through the winter months only to spring back to life with five wins on the spin.

The Clarets go into Thursday’s meeting with the Blues at Turf Moor with a carrot dangling in front of them. Victory would take them above Arsenal and into sixth in the table. With the Gunners’ focus being on the Europa League, there is the realistic prospect of Burnley shaking up the established order.

With 33 goals scored and 29 against, Burnley are not going to blow you away with breath-taking attacking football. But they are well drilled and extremely difficult to beat.

Against a side whose incentive in the league to go the extra mile is ebbing away by the day, Burnley look prime material to claim the three points. As such, it is a little surprising that they are such a backable price. 188BET have the Clarets chalked up at 4.40 for the win, with Chelsea odds-on at 1.91 and the draw 3.45.

Chelsea have oodles of class, and in Eden Hazard a forward who needs one more goal to go outright third on 70 goals in the Blues’ top scorer list. But class is not enough and if the desire for a fight is not on show at Turf Moor they could find themselves being bullied by a Burnley outfit who have a spring in their step and plenty still to play for.

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