The season looked all but lost for Chelsea last Saturday against Southampton. After going down 2-0 to the Saints just after the hour mark, it seemed like the rest of Chelsea’s season was going to be an exercise in patience. But then Chelsea scored three times in an eight-minute period of madness, and all of a sudden, spirits seemed to lift.
Chelsea supporters will hope that their team carries that spirit with them to Turf Moor on Thursday night when the Blues face Burnley in a key matchup for both teams.
With Arsenal losing to Newcastle on Sunday and Tottenham losing to Manchester City on Saturday night and dropping points to Brighton on Tuesday, both Chelsea and Burnley have much to gain from a victory Thursday night.
Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the top four looked completely dead and buried after drawing at home to West Ham a week and a half ago, but a victory at Turf Moor will close the gap to Tottenham to just five points and will keep Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the top four alive.
For Burnley, Arsenal’s loss to Newcastle on Sunday means that Burnley can leap frog the Gunners for sixth place if they win on Thursday night and would move them ever closer to having European football next season.
Turf Moor is often a tough place to go, and this season, they’ve only been defeated five times at home. But four of those defeats have come against other members of the top six, and only a draw to Manchester City kept Burnley from losing to them all.
It doesn’t make it any easier for Chelsea without Marcos Alonso. The left wing back was named to the PFA team of the year on Wednesday night, but Alonso will be absent for three matches after being charged by the FA for his apparent stamp on Shane Long on Saturday against Southampton. Emerson Palmieri will make his first Premier League start in place of the Spaniard.
There are no new absentees, though, for manager Antonio Conte, but Olivier Giroud’s performance on Saturday will give him a small headache once again at striker. Alvaro Morata has once again started to struggle while Giroud’s two goals on Saturday and his presence after entering the match could earn him a start on Thursday.
Conte may also rotate a couple other players with an eye towards the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.
Burnley’s lineup is likely to be unchanged from the side that won against Leicester on Saturday, as there are no new injuries in Sean Dyche’s side and especially with Burnley having the chance to pass Arsenal for sixth place with a win.
Just a week ago, Chelsea’s season looked almost dead and buried, but signs of life have started to appear. A win away at Burnley would keep spirits high in the camp and, if nothing else, puts a bit of pressure on Tottenham for fourth place.