Victor Moses 9/10, Alvaro Morata 5/10 as Chelsea beat Burnley, inch closer to fourth
Chelsea edged out Burnley 2-1 in a highly entertaining game of football at Turf Moor. The Blues always held the upper hand in respect to possession and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 20th minute, Kevin Long putting through his own goal via a Victor Moses cross. The Clarets had no intention of lying down though and battled back to level somewhat fortunately, when Ashley Barnes deflected a speculative shot from Johann Berg Gudmundsson past Thibaut Courtois. The game was won five minutes later when the excellent Moses drilled home Emerson's cross to give Chelsea a lead that their robust defence was never going to give up.
It's said that possession is nine-tenths of the law, and Chelsea were the law against Burnley. There were plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger looked solid at the back. Emerson and Moses were incisive on the flanks. N'Golo Kante bossed midfield and Tiemoue Bakayoko didn't give the ball away. The Blues are now just five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur now. Never say never, particularly if Spurs go all "Spursy".
Sadly Alvaro Morata once again looked short on confidence when it came to finishing chances. Basically he couldn't as evidenced by his miss on a clear breakaway. Nice approach play is one thing, but a striker needs to be putting the ball in the back of the net and Morata is still coming up short in that respect.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- With one eye on Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with Southampton, Antonio Conte tweaked his starting XI, resting Eden Hazard and Willian, which afforded him the opportunity to go with a 3-5-2 formation partnering Morata and Olivier Giroud up front. It was a brave move, one that was applauded by Chelsea supporters, and one that to all intents and purposes paid off despite Morata disappointing once again. Conte was all smiles again at the final whistle -- maybe, just maybe he might stay and see out his contract. The Italian in the right frame of mind still looks a far better option than the smorgasbord of managers being touted to replace him.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 -- Making his 150th appearance for Chelsea, Courtois had little to do throughout the game and could not be blamed for Burnley's goal which saw him wrong-footed by a lucky touch for Barnes.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 -- Showing no sign of the fatigue that crept into his game last time out against Southampton, Azpilicueta was always in control of Chelsea's backline. Cahill may wear the captain's armband, but defensively "Dave" runs the show now.
DF Gary Cahill, 8 -- Solid, confidence-boosting performance in the middle of the back three. Largely untroubled by Barnes and Chris Wood, Cahill's distribution out of defence was top notch and included floating a sweet ball to Moses which brought about Chelsea's opener.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 7 -- Typically mobile and robust showing against physical opponents. Gave no quarter and was always first to the ball. Formed a cohesive back-three unit with Azpilicueta and Cahill.
MF Victor Moses, 9 -- Tireless performance. Enjoyed the run of the right flank and won the game for Chelsea with a cross which was deflected for an own goal by Long for the opener and by later being well-placed at the back post to slot home the winner.
MF Emerson, 8 -- Making his full Premier League debut as a consequence of Marcos Alonso's three-match suspension that was confirmed by the FA earlier in the day, Emerson looked every inch a classy replacement on the left flank. Solid defensively, he also made some probing runs and delivered the cross which Moses struck into the net.
MF N'Golo Kante, 8 -- Yet another game in which he looked like he could have carried on playing for another 90 minutes, Kante controlled midfield and might have had an assist but for Morata's profligacy in front of goal.
MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, 7 -- Recalled to Chelsea's starting XI after a torrid run of form, Bakayoko needed a steady game and this was it. Worked well in tandem with Kante and was able to control the possession that came his way.
MF Pedro, 7 -- Had the energy, pace and enthusiasm to constantly create problems for Burnley's backline and provided the link-up balls that Olivier Giroud and Morata needed to stay in play.
FW Alvaro Morata, 5 -- An improvement on the past weekend's shocking showing against Southampton, but despite linking up well with Giroud and Pedro, he was unable to make the most of chances when on the ball and missed a glorious chance to put Chelsea 2-0 up with only Burnley keeper Nick Pope to beat.
FW Olivier Giroud, 7 -- Slugged it out up front like a decent striker should. Always looked for the ball and distracted the Burnley defence enough for his teammates to do the damage required to win the game.
FW Eden Hazard, NR -- Replaced Morata on 71 minutes and brought a touch of class and composure to Chelsea's forward play. Gave Burnley's defence more to think about than they had previously.
MF Davide Zappacosta, NR -- Replaced Emerson late on and added fresh impetus to Chelsea's overall play.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco