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Chelsea 3-0 Burnley


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scoreboard.jpgSaturday 29 August 2009, FA Premier League, Stamford Bridge, London

Goals from Nicolas Anelka, Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole handed Chelsea a comfortable victory over Premier League new boys Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

The Clarets had beaten Chelsea on penalties in the fourth round of the Carling Cup under the tenure of Luiz Felipe Scolari last term, but whilst complacency was apparent under the Brazilian tactician, Carlo Ancelotti's Blues were both rampant and professional against Owen Coyle's side; wary of their threat following excellent victories over Manchester United and Everton. Whilst the visitors frustrated Chelsea for much of the opening period, Nicolas Anelka converted a stoppage time Didier Drogba cross to open the scoring for the Blues, before Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole added quickfire goals early in the second half to confirm the victory for Chelsea.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti was full of praise for his team at the final whistle, and will be delighted to see Chelsea take twelve points from their first four Premier League fixtures of the new campaign. The manager elected to make a number of changes from the team that defeated Fulham in last weekend's West London derby, with Deco, Michael Essien and Ricardo Carvalho all recalled to the starting line-up. There was no place on the bench for Andrei Shevchenko, who looks set to leave the club for Dynamo Kyiv in his native Ukraine.

The first chance of the game fell to in-form Nicolas Anelka, who opened his account for the season with a well-taken strike against Fulham on Sunday. Dispossessing Andre Bikey inside the centre circle after the Clarets defender had dawdled on the ball, Anelka burst into the penalty area, where the visitor's goalkeeper; Brian Jensen, denied the Frenchman after quickly racing off his line to smother the ball. Anelka's final touch had been too heavy as he attempted to round the Danish shotstopper, allowing the goalkeeper to get a hand on the ball and steal it from the striker.

At the other end, equally-slack play from the usually-reliant Frank Lampard allowed Martin Patterson to shoot at Petr Cech's goal after Wade Elliott had stolen the ball from the England international before squaring to his teammate, but the Burnley player's effort was wide of the Czech's near upright as the goalkeeper quickly came out to meet the Clarets number 10.

Clarke Carlisle then excelled for Burnley when he blocked a fierce Lampard effort inside the area after the Chelsea vice captain had looked to make amends for his earlier error by latching on to an Anelka pull-back. The Burnley defence was a stubborn barrier that Chelsea were struggling to breach, and a free kick by Drogba was fired well wide of the target after he was felled outside the area.

Jensen then made a superb point-blank save to deny John Terry's close-range volley and then a Frank Lampard effort, before a Drogba shot deflected wide for an ultimately-fruitless corner as Ricardo Carvalho headed wide under pressure from the Burnley backline. The Clarets looked determined to go into the break level, and though they were offering little going forward, they were putting in a spirited defensive performance in front of the Shed End.

Chelsea finally made their breakthrough in first half stoppage time. With Jensen saving from both Lampard and the highly-involved Deco, Burnley looked to take heart from the confidence of their goalkeeper and made a rare venture out of their own half. However, the ball was soon back with Chelsea and with the Clarets stretched at the back, Essien's through-ball to Drogba saw the Ivorian cross between defender and goalkeeper to Anelka, who slid the ball in at the near post. It was a deserved lead for Chelsea, who could and should have opened the scoring already.

With less than two minutes on the clock in the second half, Michael Ballack doubled Chelsea's lead with a stunning diving header from a sublime Lampard chip after the England international had found himself in space just outside the Burnley area. Sending in a delightful dinked cross, Lampard's early endeavours in the second half were rewarded when he saw Ballack convert the opportunity presented to him with aplomb for his second goal of the season.

And just as Chelsea supporters had ceased celebrating Ballack's finish, they were on their feet applauding the brilliance of the Blues' attacking play once again when Ashley Cole volleyed home a beautiful third goal for the hosts. Playing a one-two with Lampard, the ever-involved Cole ran beyond the Burnley defenders and powered some a sumptuous volley beyond Jensen, who certainly did not deserve to be on the receiving end of such impressive Chelsea movement.

Anelka then left the crossbar trembling in fear as he powered an effort against the woodwork before Juliano Belletti entered the fray after missing the first fixtures of the season due to injury. The Brazilian, noted for his attacking play, replaced José Bosingwa at right-back, and with Burnley offering next to nothing coming forward, the former Barcelona man had licence to bomb forward and support the strike force of Anelka and substitute Salomon Kalou, who had replaced Drogba, who received a standing ovation from the Blues faithful only moments after seeing a header saved by Jensen.

Essien then forced the save of the match from Jensen, who flung himself to his right to deny the Ghanaian, who had his sweetly-struck effort clawed away by the Dane. Essien then found Jensen's midriff with another shot before the Dane pulled off a superb diving stop low to his left to beat away the Chelsea number 5's left-footed effort from twenty yards which was wonderfully-fashioned by some nimble footwork by the Chelsea midfielder.

From the resulting corner, Ballack's header was tipped over by Jensen who was enjoying a superb game between the posts for Burnley, but he was helpless when Kalou beat him with a dinked finish, only to see Carlisle clear off the line when a deserved fourth goal looked on the cards. Nevertheless, Chelsea had comfortably seen off their opponents in clinical fashion, and head into a two-week international break at the top of the Premier League table. A September trip to Stoke is next for the Blues, who will look to maintain their wonderful beginning to the season.


Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech; Bosingwa (Belletti), Carvalho, Terry ©, A Cole; Ballack (Mikel), Essien, Lampard; Anelka, Deco; Drogba (Kalou)

Burnley (4-1-4-1): Jensen; Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan; Alexander © (McDonald); Fletcher, Elliott, McCann, Blake (Guerrero); Paterson

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 3 - Ashley Cole


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Good report. Even though Ash had a solid game at left back, the plaudits he's been getting after the game for scoring that goal at the end are bemusing. Drogba was involved in almost everything good, Essien had a very good game in defensive midfield but my star man with two excellent assists and a load of tracking back was Frank Lampard.

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Frank had a very sloppy opening half an hour in my opinion, whereas Ashley was excellent the entire game.

More like Ashley Cole put in a usual solid performance for the most, scored a great goal and that exceeds the performances of Lampard and Essien. Hardly.

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More like Ashley Cole put in a usual solid performance for the most, scored a great goal and that exceeds the performances of Lampard and Essien. Hardly.

Ashley Cole was absolutely superb defensively and going forward was a huge attacking outlet for us, especially in the second half. His goal capped off a tremendous display. I thought Essien was outstanding but Ashley Cole, for me, was our best performer on Saturday.

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Ashley Cole was absolutely superb defensively and going forward was a huge attacking outlet for us, especially in the second half. His goal capped off a tremendous display. I thought Essien was outstanding but Ashley Cole, for me, was our best performer on Saturday.

You don't need to fill your justification up with superlatives, but more so what he did. As far as I remember, Burnley's right midfielder hardly posed much of a threat, meaning he didn't have too much to do (agreed that he dealt with whatever was thrown), but that doesn't describe one of his superb defensive performances, because put simply, they weren't the attacking threat to give the defenders enough work, thanks to a couple guys in the midfield called Frank and Michael.

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