Burnley 2-4 Chelsea
Goals: Jay Rodriguez (£5.7m), Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) | Christian Pulisic x3 (£7.1m), Willian (£7.0m)
Assists: Robbie Brady x2 (£5.5m) | Willian, Mason Mount (£6.9m), Tammy Abraham (£7.8m)
Bonus Points: Pulisic x3, Willian x2, McNeil x1
Christian Pulisic‘s (£7.1m) perfect hat-trick in Gameweek 10 has complicated the attacking midfield situation at Chelsea for Fantasy Premier League managers.
Starting just his third league match at Burnley, the aptly nicknamed ‘Captain America’ was by far the best player on the pitch.
Deployed on the left flank of Frank Lampard’s 4-2-3-1 system, Pulisic ran the game at Turf Moor. Running into the centre from wide he was difficult for Burnley’s defenders to pick up, allowing him to play key passes into his colleagues and line up efforts on goal himself.
The former Borussia Dortmund man’s first goal came after a mistake from Matt Lowton (£4.5m), who slipped in his half, allowing Pulisic to bear down on goal, execute a clever step over, and fire a left-footed effort across Nick Pope (£4.7m) into the bottom corner.
The second came after a loose pass from James Tarkowski (£5.0m). Again, Pulisic capitalised, driving towards goal, this time going right and firing a shot in at the near post.
The USA international completed the perfect hat-trick with his head in the second half, converting a Mason Mount (£6.9m) cross in the second phase of a corner.
“I’m delighted for him. A lot of talk around Christian for the big price tag, the fact he’s quite rightly a star in his country and plays for the US so well and captain of, so you get asked questions about it. I’m delighted to see him do that today. I know the backstory and the pressures of a move like that. I also know he played for his country through the summer and had one week break this summer to come back after that. Then you get the pressure of can you settle in the Premier League, so I’ve tried to deal with it in the way I see best which is to give him minutes.” – Frank Lampard
Such a memorable display, coupled with a 20-point haul, certainly forces Fantasy managers to consider some questions.
Is Pulisic the new must-have Chelsea attacker? What does his arrival onto the scene mean for their prospects as a team? What about Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.0m) and Tammy Abraham (£7.8m)?
Let’s cover his prospects first as many managers may be wondering: Can Pulisic hit a hat-trick again anytime soon? That is perhaps unlikely, although not impossible.
It must be noted that two of his goals did come from uncharacteristic Burnley errors although that’s not to discredit the hard work he put in to punish them. After all, you can only beat what’s in front of you as the cliché-lovers will be keen to remind us. Either way, Fantasy managers can’t exactly legislate for or predict defensive blunders when making their decisions.
There may be more discussion to be had over the dilemma Lampard now faces when staffing his attacking midfield.
Despite Chelsea’s recent transfer embargo, the Blues certainly have an abundance of exciting attacking options in midfield, Pulisic adding himself to a list that includes Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Willian (£7.0m) and Pedro (£6.9m).
In any given match, Lampard can only start three of these in the 4-2-3-1 system and with European and cup competitions still on the schedule, we might start seeing rotation creep into Chelsea’s midfield, potentially affecting Fantasy managers as much as Manchester City do.
It has taken Pulisic some time to break into the team after a stuttered start to his Chelsea career but after impressing in training, and in cameos against Newcastle and Ajax, he started ahead of Hudson-Odoi in this one. Scoring a hat-trick will have only excelled his importance to the team in Lampard’s mind.
“He’s played games this season already, but I’ve also got competition in that area. I need them all on edge, I need them all trying to perform when they get in the team and play. Christian has been doing it recently, he’s been doing it from the bench. He fully deserved his start today and it was a fantastic match-winning performance.” – Frank Lampard
Lampard has himself hinted in his post-match comments that we should watch out for rotation on the horizon.
“When the moments come players need to stay fit and ready and support the team when not playing. It’s not nice and it’s a hard part of my job telling people they aren’t playing. I know the quality in the squad and there will be moments in the coming weeks or over the long haul of the season when I’ll rely on someone else than today. I think it’s so important to keep a real spirit as a group whether you’re a starter or whether you’re someone coming on and making an impact.” – Frank Lampard
While it is a bit too soon to tell how Lampard will handle balancing Pulisic, Mount, Willian, Pedro and Hudson-Odoi between the Premier League, Champions League and EFL Cup, we can assess the strengths of each option.
You could argue that Mount is the safest among those five options considering that he has started every Premier League match so far this season and is capable of playing in a number of different positions: central midfield, number 10 and attacking winger. The Englishman remains the primary set-piece taker for Chelsea too.
Willian has started the last six Premier League matches in a row, and also possesses some versatility, although not as much as Mount. The Brazilian can play anywhere in the attacking midfield in a 4-2-3-1 and has also had some set-piece responsibilities historically.
Perhaps most disadvantaged by Pulisic’s sudden emergence into the team is Hudson-Odoi. It was he and Pedro that missed out on the starting XI at Burnley, Lampard opting to use the 18-year-old as an impact substitute. Hudson-Odoi is generally seen as a wide-man whereas Pulisic, Mount and Willian can play that position as well as occupy a more central role.
We should provide an update on Abraham, who managed to get attacking returns in this one but was not particularly at his best from a Fantasy perspective.
His 45.8% ownership will have almost certainly been disappointed to see Chelsea score four times, only to collect just a solitary assist.
Against Burnley, Abraham had plenty of dirty work to perform, battling against Tarkowski and Ben Mee (£5.0m).
That meant he had just one effort on goal before being replaced by Olivier Giroud (£6.7m) after 70 minutes.
Fantasy managers probably don’t need to be too concerned though. Burnley centre-backs are historically adept at occupying visiting centre-forwards and it must be said that Giroud is certainly better equipped for the fight than Abraham, who may enjoy a Gameweek 11 trip to Watford considerably more.
With the score still 4-0 in the 85th minute, you could be forgiven for thinking the clean sheet was about to come for Chelsea.
However, out of nowhere, Jay Rodriguez (£5.7m) found some space in the middle of the park and unleashed a wonder
That knocked off the clean sheet for Fikayo Tomori (£4.8m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.9m), the two most-popular Chelsea defenders.
The real winners were the 4.2% who had returned to former FPL heavy-hitter Marcos Alonso (£6.3m), who had been replaced by Reece James (£5.0m) in the 63rd minute, banking the clean sheet.
Inspired by Rodriguez’s goal, Burnley burst into life for the final five minutes, Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) the next to fire an effort into the net from range, removing one-point from the Chelsea defenders still on the pitch.
That said, it is hard to place the two goals conceded down to the continued absence of N’Golo Kanté (£5.0m).
Even without the French international in the side for three of
Holding pair Jorginho (£5.1m) and Mateo Kovačić (£5.3m) have performed very well in recent weeks, the latter earning plenty of praise from the local press.
Kovačić was especially good at controlling the midfield both in protection of the defenders and feeding the potent attack force at Burnley.
His contributions came very close to providing Chelsea with a third clean sheet in four, were it not for two speculative efforts breaching their net late in the game.
It is probably also worth pointing out that it had been a long week for Chelsea and perhaps somewhat understanding to take their feet off the gas when 4-0 up away from home.
Their midweek trip to Ajax was an impressive one but will certainly have been exerting given their impressive defensive work, so with five minutes left in the following match, with a big scoreline in their favour, it is possible that concentration might drop for the closing moments.
“It’s easy to take small gloss off it with two late goals, but it doesn’t take any gloss off it for me today. For 95% of the game we played some outstanding football at such a tough place to play is what made me very, very happy today.” – Frank Lampard
As for Burnley, it is certainly unlike them to concede so heavily at home.
Coming into Gameweek 10, the Clarets had three clean sheets from a possible four at Turf Moor, conceding only to Liverpool.
Chelsea’s four-strike spree more than doubled Burnley’s goals conceded at home column on Saturday afternoon (from three to seven) but we should probably highlight again that two of those were from uncharacteristic defensive errors.
Given the regimented way Sean Dyche drills his troops, we probably should not expect a recurrence of these anytime soon.
“They have punished us. They are a bit lucky with the second which hits Ben Mee and deflects in and then we started the second half well. The third is a poor one again, poor clearance, they whip a cross in and score. Fourth goes in and you wonder what kind of night it will be.” – Sean Dyche
Furthermore, we should remember that all seven of the goals conceded by Burnley at home this season have come against sides who finished in the top-six last season (Liverpool and Chelsea).
Clean sheets were recorded at Turf Moor against Southampton, Norwich and Everton which is encouraging considering that West Ham (Gameweek 12), Crystal Palace (Gameweek 14) and Newcastle (Gameweek 17) are three of the next four sides to come to Lancashire.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Hendrick (Brady 84′); A Barnes (Vydra 63′), Rodriguez.
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Alonso (R James 63′), Tomori, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Kovačić, Jorginho; Pulisic, Mount, Willian (Hudson-Odoi 72′); Abraham (Giroud 70′).
Lessons learned from Gameweek 10
- Southampton 0-9 Leicester City
- Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa
- Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 Everton
- Watford 0-0 Bournemouth
- West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield United
- Burnley 2-4 Chelsea
- Newcastle United 1-1 Wolves
- Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace
- Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Norwich City 1-3 Manchester United
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