Chelsea v Burnley Preview (Premier League) – 21st February 2015

Chelsea could open up a temporary 10 point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a win against Burnley on Saturday. The Blues play before champions Manchester City, who play on Saturday evening against Newcastle, and they know a win against the Clarets will heap pressure onto City. With just 13 games left to go, each win brings the league leaders that little bit closer to winning the title.

The big news ahead of this one is the return of Diego Costa. The frontman has been absent for the last three league games, although he did make an appearance against PSG on Tuesday night. He has been a big miss, the Blues just don’t look clinical without him in the team. While Loic Remy and Didier Drogba are both good options, Costa gives the team something else, that added bit of potency.

Costa’s return comes against the side who have conceded the most goals in the league, which he’ll surely be looking forward to. Burnley was the team against whom Costa made his debut back in August, and he scored that night as the club opened their season with a win. A similar result will be expected here, as Chelsea look to move in to a commanding position on top of the league, and it’s certainly going to be a different kind of workout than their game at PSG in midweek.

This game will see the Blues facing a packed defence, and a very hard-working, compact side. We’ve seen this in recent games against Aston Villa and Everton, and they were both tough matches. While Burnley are lingering in the bottom three, we are going to see a determined side here who try to make things difficult for the hosts. Just look at their 2-2 draw at the Etihad for an example of that.

Hopefully the return of Costa will make the attack a lot more clinical, and open up some space for the supporting cast coming from midfield. That would hopefully lead to a much more comfortable win than we’ve seen in recent weeks. The main problem with that, going into this game, is just who will be available behind Costa.

After the PSG game Mourinho said he had five injured players on the field that night, and they hadn’t trained in days. Willian and Cesc Fabregas were rumoured to be part of that contingent, but it’s hard to tell who else was. But with potentially five players missing, or being kept ahead of the Capital One Cup final the week after, we might see a very different Chelsea team in this game.

Oscar is another who had an injury coming up to the game, and if he is out, along with Fabregas and Willian, we could see some selection worries in the advanced midfield positions. If either Willian or Oscar can’t make it, there’s a good chance you’ll see new man Juan Cuadrado. Hopefully they’ll have recovered in time for Saturday’s game.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0