Chelsea ease to victory in a dominant performance against Burnley. Switches in possession, high field positioning to press when they lost the ball and their capacity to control the direct possession of Burnley made for a very one-sided match.
When Burnley have the ball they hold it with their central midfielders dropping to join the central defenders, while the fullbacks move up and the wide midfielders move inside. Progression of their ball possession comes through: passes to the advanced fullback along the ground, Boyd and Arfield receiving the ball to feet centrally, or long passes over the top to Vokes. Upon having the ball in the final 3rd they use the two strikers to combine, the two central midfielders moving up to support the strikers and the wide midfielders available for switches on the corner of the box.
When the ball is passed up to the fullback, they either circulate the ball backwards (while the central midfielders are now advancing to support in higher areas) or they find the wide midfielder making a diagonal run outside, behind the opposition fullback. Long diagonals and passes to the wingers are used to create immediate crossing or shooting situations, where they have two strikers in the box. Finally, and most frequently, they use long balls up to Vokes. He often moves from the defensive line of the opposition, leaving Gray on the last line. The narrow positioning of the wingers now comes into play. The wingers support the second ball from behind, along with Gray who is ready on the last line of defense for a flick-on or balls that go past Vokes.
When Burnley win the ball in deep areas they have two strikers to play direct balls to early on, while they also switch the play to the wingers after combinations between the strikers.
Elsewhere, Burnley have options during dead ball situations. During goal kicks (strikers start goal-side of the Chelsea defenders, then run towards the ball) and free kicks in their own half they will, again, play long up to Vokes--but in these situations they will also move the midfielders and the defensive line up the field. Now they have more numbers to support second balls centrally in the opponent's half, as well as the field position to be able to engage in higher pressing if they are unable to win or retain the ball.
The approaches used by Chelsea defensively were able to prevent Burnley having success with the ball in most of these instances.
During long vertical balls to Vokes they would have a deeper and narrow defensive line, with Kante (and Matic Occasionally) in front to support the backline. Cahill and Terry were able to follow the frontman, moving away from them, into midfield. They could compete for the first ball aggressively, with tight positioning, while the other was covering Gray in the defensive line. Matic in a deeper position also aided them during long goal kicks into midfield by Burnley. The fullbacks were narrow to allow them to be goal side of the narrow wingers. Kante was there to win any loose ball, follow runners and to try to take the ball from Vokes if he tries to hold it with back to goal.
Their defensive block was setup from midfield, where Costa and Oscar would apply pressure in central areas. They would press with intensity during moments where they were able to isolate the player either on the ball or about to receive it. Once again the defensive line would be deep, which led to a few more advantages when Burnley had deep possession. Since the fullbacks were narrow, while Kante was sweeping in front of the back four, they were able to prevent the wingers receiving the ball between the lines through immediate ball pressure. As a consequence the Burnley wide players were only able to bounce the ball backward when they received the ball with back to goal.
Azpilicueta was very important when in possession to open up the Burnley block, as well as always playing the ball quickly. He would receive the ball from Terry as Boyd was moving up to pressure him. From here he was able to find first time passes forward to Hazard moving deeper to collect the ball in the vacated space by Boyd. This not only took Boyd out of play, but also caused Lowton to move out of position to follow Hazard, opening space for Costa to run into. The amount of times they are able to get the ball to Hazard are often crucial to the team's creation, and in this game they were very successful in finding many early passes to Hazard.
Success in wide areas was prominent throughout the game. Not only were they able to open up the space behind the fullbacks, but they were also able to isolate both fullbacks on many occasions--usually through switches. The way Burnley defend allows these situations to occur often, as the central defenders chose to only defend the goal area and the central midfielders don’t move to cover the fullbacks.
From these switches they were also able to use the near side central midfielder (usually Oscar) to run behind the fullback when the winger (Willian) has the ball in a wide area.
When Burnley tried to press collectively in higher areas, Chelsea were able to successfully play through the pressure and break their lines. Once they had broken the pressure, they would switch the ball to the other wing, often creating a crossing situation.
Finally Chelsea were also able to create many opportunities from corners, where they would often find Hazard in a shooting position on the edge of the box.
Chelsea were dominant both with and without the ball. They were able to prevent Burnley having the same success during counter attacks as they had against Liverpool, especially due to their deeper midfield pressing by Kante. Not only did they prevent Burnley having success with the ball, but they also found the weaknesses in their defensive structure and exploited them. In the end the 3-0 scoreline flattered Burnley, as it could easily have been a victory by a much bigger margin.