Maurizio Sarri’s side are once against outsiders in a four-team race for two spots in the Premier League’s top four, which would see those clubs earn a lucrative spot in the Champions League next season.
The Blues are sat in fourth place but having played a game more than all of Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham, with whom they are competing.
The 60-year-old can point to a positive performance, but as he said after the lucky win over Cardiff City, all that matters at this stage of the season is three points.
A 2-2 draw against Burnley was a result that the Blues could ill-afford, even having seen each of their rivals lose this weekend ahead of kick-off, with Manchester United notably being humiliated in a 4-0 away defeat to Everton.
Eden Hazard was in form and Chelsea mounted a comeback as Jeff Hendrick scored from Burnley’s first shot of the game from long range to make it 1-0.
It only took six minutes for Chelsea to be ahead after Sean Dyche’s side took the early initiative, as Hazard’s devastating play set up Kante to equalise.
Gonzalo Higuain was under pressure to perform after coming under criticism since his move to Chelsea, but he made it 2-1 on a throwback display to his Napoli days.
Chelsea looked good going forward but there are questions over the defence that conceded again from a set-piece with Ashley Barnes making it 2-2. Sarri was then spotted in a heated discussion with David Luiz, while Gianfranco Zola also had a word with Andreas Christensen.
However, the story of the game was arguably a sideshow to more significant problems as Hudson-Odoi damaged his Achilles trying to pull a high ball out of the air. There will be fear that he could miss Chelsea’s run-in as he looked in some agony leaving the field.
It took Hudson-Odoi all season to break in under Sarri, as four consecutive league starts finally recognised his unique talent.
Losing a wonderkid is one thing but Kante came off at half-time with a back problem, and it would be tough to lose one of only two world-class players at the club, but Gianfranco Zola softened fears over the loss of the midfielder.
“N’Golo was taken down on the counter and, as he fell, he fell on the foot of a player, so he had a contusion in his ribs. He couldn’t breathe totally. I think he will be alright.”
Chelsea have mostly avoided injury complaints for their stars this season, but this now represents a major issue as an injury list grows with Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and Willian’s names already on there.
Willian’s injury is also fresh, but he is hoping to be back for the upcoming match at Old Trafford next week, as a season-defining game sees Chelsea travel to face Manchester United.
Chelsea’s injury problems will not be seen as a mitigating circumstance for failure as the likes of Harry Kane, Ander Herrera and Aaron Ramsey are among those missing out at their rivals.
Ahead of the trip to the North West, it looks like it won’t only be Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s men who are under pressure, as doubts over both clubs will loom large over the match.
The Blues can always fall back on victory in the Europa League to qualify for next season’s Champions League but poor results in English football will keep people doubting Sarri’s ability to lead Chelsea into another triumphant era.
Sarri was sent down the tunnel after a melee on the pitch between both sets of players and it continued after the match, as players and coaching staff were close to trading blows on the final whistle.
These are heated times at the end of the Premier League, and it showed on an unseasonably warm night in London.
Source : goal.com