Chelsea 2-2 Burnley: 3 Blues lessons learned

Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League
Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League / Crystal Pix/MB Media/GettyImages

In a disheartening display at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, Chelsea once again fell short of expectations. Despite having a numerical advantage against a ten-man Burnley, who are battling relegation fears, the Blues failed to secure a victory. This latest setback is part of a troubling pattern of underperformance under Mauricio Pochettino, leaving fans and pundits alike wondering about the team's direction.

1. Chelsea can't make use of the advantage.

Anticipation was high for a Chelsea victory ahead of their clash at Stamford Bridge. The odds seemed to stack further in their favor when Burnley was reduced to ten men, and Chelsea's Cole Palmer netted the first goal. The situation intensified as Burnley's manager, Vincent Kompany, was sent off by the referee. Under normal circumstances, Chelsea should have easily dominated the match from thereon.

However, reflecting Chelsea's season under Mauricio Pochettino, Burnley found a way back into the game. Even as Chelsea appeared to control the match, Burnley's defense held firm, frustrating the Blues' efforts. Cole Palmer emerged as Chelsea's hero once more, scoring his second goal to reclaim the lead for his team. But a slip-up by goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic allowed Burnley to equalize again. In moments that followed, Chelsea narrowly avoided defeat, with Burnley threatening to score a third and Raheem Sterling missing a crucial opportunity for Chelsea.

Before this match, Chelsea was just five points behind seventh-placed West Ham United, with two games in hand, presenting a golden opportunity to advance in the standings. Yet, time and again, Pochettino's team has squandered such opportunities. Even as late as March, the scenario remains unchanged, casting doubts on the team's prospects under the guidance of the former Tottenham Hotspur manager.

2. Pochettino remains under scrutiny.

Saturday's match underscored a concerning trend of regression for Chelsea under Mauricio Pochettino's stewardship. With Chelsea in dire need of offensive firepower, the decision to substitute in a defender, despite facing a ten-man Burnley, left fans and analysts baffled. This choice is just one in a series of perplexing decisions by the Argentine manager this season, sidelining attacking talents like Cesare Casadei, Deivid Washington, and Jimi Tauriainen in crucial moments.

The situation with Casadei is especially puzzling. Recalled from a loan spell at Leicester to bolster the squad amid injuries, the Italian U21 international has been conspicuously underutilized. His disappointment is palpable, having been on the cusp of securing a starting position with the Foxes before being summoned back. Washington's case is similarly disheartening, as Pochettino's promises of playing time have yet to materialize.

Beyond personnel decisions, tactical shortcomings continue to plague Chelsea, particularly in defending set pieces, as demonstrated by Burnley's first goal. The team's struggle to capitalize on their numerical advantage and score more than one goal from open play against a ten-man Burnley casts a shadow over Pochettino's tactical acumen. Furthermore, Chelsea's habitual squandering of second-half leads, underscored by their position among the bottom three in the "second-half only" league table, raises serious questions about the effectiveness of Pochettino's half-time team talks.

3. Raheem Sterling and Conor Gallagher were once again poor.

Raheem Sterling's tenure at Chelsea has been notably marred by underperformance, given his experience and substantial wages. Despite not starting the match, his introduction as a second-half substitute was an opportunity to make a positive impact. However, when presented with a prime chance by Cole Palmer, Sterling's finishing was lacking, squandering a golden opportunity to secure a win for Chelsea.

In the midfield, Conor Gallagher was tasked with the number 10 role, an assignment that seems more a testament to his work rate than his playmaking or goal-scoring abilities. Throughout the match, Gallagher often opted for shots or backward passes, overlooking opportunities to leverage Palmer's positioning and potential in more advantageous situations.

The sentiment is growing that Chelsea's path to success involves parting ways with players like Sterling and Gallagher, along with the current managerial direction. The team's next challenge is a Premier League home game against Manchester United. Given the dismal performance in their last encounter, achieving even a draw under Pochettino's guidance would be considered fortunate for Chelsea.