Chelsea stutter as Burnley show how to keep the Blues at bay
Manchester City can cut the Blues' lead to eight points as the Clarets refuse to wilt against Antonio Conte's side
Burnley 1 Chelsea 1
Chelsea missed out on the opportunity to go 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor on Sunday.
Having watched their nearest challengers, Spurs, lose 2-0 at Liverpool on Saturday evening, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte knew that three points against Burnley would move his side into a virtually unassailable position. But despite taking the lead on seven minutes when Pedro fired home, the leaders were pegged back midway through the first-half when Robbie Brady - making his full debut following his January move from Norwich - blasted a brilliant free-kick past Thibaut Courtois.
"We must be disappointed at the point because I think this type of game we could win," said Conte, whose side have now drawn their last two away games in the league after sharing the spoils with Liverpool earlier this month.
It should haven't come as much of a surprise that Burnley proved so resilient as only Chelsea and Tottenham boast a better home record this season than the Clarets. But it will surely have shocked Conte that in the second half Chelsea didn't manage a single shot on goal, and that the two best chances to win the match both fell to Burnley with Courtois saving well from Matt Lowton and Andre Gray.
"The second half became a physical game with long balls," said Conte. "We don't know this type of game."
The result will signal to Chelsea's rivals that perhaps the title race isn't yet over, and should Manchester City beat Bournemouth this evening they will close the gap to eight points with the Sky Blues leapfrogging Tottenham and Arsenal, both of whom have 50 points.
Chelsea play City and Manchester United within the space of ten days in April, matches that could settle the title race one way or the other.
"We must take a point but must be a bit disappointed," said Conte. "Now it is important to restart... we know the way [to the end of the season] is a long way."
Chelsea do at least have the advantage of resting midweek for the rest of the month, while on the other hand Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United all play in Europe.
Asked if he believed Chelsea needed to keep their focus despite the healthy lead at the top of the table, Conte said: "For sure, but we know this. Now there are 13 games before the end of the season... it is important to continue to work in this way, keep playing this type of game and to fight."