Chelsea moved back to within two points of the Premier League summit at Turf Moor thanks to arguably their best performance of the season so far, as goals from Alvaro Morata, Ross Barkley and Willian saw off Burnley. Even more impressively, they did it without Eden Hazard.
Maurizio Sarri has succeeded where many of his predecessors could not; implementing a system that ensures Chelsea are dangerous without their transcendent superstar. Alvaro Morata is beginning to look like the man who lit up the autumn of 2017 and Ross Barkley is becoming the player Everton always hoped he could be.
On a day of overwhelming positives, Pedro’s early withdrawal due to a stomach problem will concern Sarri as he remains the most clinical finisher in the squad. Olivier Giroud’s goal drought also goes on, despite the fact that he did everything humanly possible to score when he came on.
Manager rating out of 10
10 — All of Sarri’s work at Cobham was vindicated at Turf Moor as Chelsea executed his system brilliantly without their best player. Barkley, a particular development project, is now a decisive presence in midfield, and even Morata is beginning to repay his head coach’s faith.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 — One early flap at a cross aside, he dealt with the little Burnley threw at him well and his distribution got Chelsea moving forward.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 — He put Kepa in trouble with one underhit backpass but overall this was another solid performance, as he kept Robbie Brady in check and even got forward to provide a couple of dangerous overlaps on the right.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 — Has the look of a complete defender under Sarri, able to pass intelligently while standing up to the physical challenge posed by the Premier League’s less imaginative attacks. Sam Vokes posed few problems.
DF David Luiz, 8 — Needlessly fouled Vokes a couple of times early on, but once Chelsea settled what Sarri describes as his “personality” on the ball shone through.
DF Marcos Alonso, 7 — Never shy of getting forward on the left, his surges were a constant threat to Burnley and his height also gave Kepa an easy outlet when the home side tried to press high. His backheel created Loftus-Cheek’s late fourth.
MF N’Golo Kante, 8 — How can you call this man a holding midfielder? He does everything in this box-to-box role for Chelsea, using the ball faultlessly to pin Burnley back and putting Barkley in position to make the game safe with a pass that was understated but incisive.
MF Jorginho, 8 — Seems to relish being pressed and picked Burnley apart as they tried to force him into mistakes, controlling the match from the base of midfield and initiating the move that led to Barkley’s goal.
MF Ross Barkley, 9 — His spectacular blossoming under Sarri continues. Now firmly entrenched ahead of Mateo Kovacic as the third midfield starter, he produced his best performance to date, setting up Morata’s opener with a perfect pass and firing in the second from distance himself. Looks a real gem.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, 6 — Had little time to make an impact on the game before he was forced off in the 30th minute with an unspecified problem.
FW Alvaro Morata, 8 — The Spaniard is finally carrying himself with an air of confidence. Took his goal brilliantly, threatened Joe Hart constantly, linked the play well and stood up to the physical challenge of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee impressively. Could he finally be on the way back?
FW Willian, 8 — Always seems to perform better when deployed in Hazard’s position on the left, from where he can cut inside and look to score himself. His first shot found the post, his second forced Tarkowski into an excellent clearance and his third found the bottom corner as Chelsea ran riot in the second half.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 7 — Three days after his hat trick against BATE Borisov, Pedro’s injury gave him an unexpected chance to maintain his first-team momentum. He took it, passing around Burnley’s press, driving powerfully at their back four and converting a late chance when Alonso’s backheel fell to him.
FW Olivier Giroud, N/R — Must be wondering if he will ever score again. On another day he would have had a hat trick in his 16-minute cameo as Chelsea picked apart a tiring Burnley defence, but a combination of Hart, the crossbar and pure bad luck denied him. Morata’s resurgence suggests he’ll remain a substitute.
MF Cesc Fabregas, N/R — Came on with 12 minutes remaining to keep Chelsea’s passing ticking over and did just that, playing his part in a flurry of late chances.