The gods are still smiling



Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. PICTURE: ACTION IMAGES

Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

So we beat Hull, drew with the Scousers, thrashed the Gooners then took a point at Burnley.

On the face of it, eight points from 12 is a stutter.

But a snapshot of the rivals´ form suggests nothing´s amiss, and the title is still within grasping distance. Better teams than Chelsea will thank the gods (Peter Osgood, Matthew Harding) if they leave Turf Moor with a point.

A 1-1 draw at Burnley in horizontal snow is a result Tony Conte and any team of continental fancy dans can take pride in.

In order of fear factor, Spurs have taken five points from the last 12, Liverpool four, Arsenal six, City seven and the Once-Special One, eight.

A 10-point cushion between Chelsea and the London rivals is as good as it gets in February.

Leaving aside impending FA Cup drama at Molineux, the next three league games at the Bridge are Swansea, Watford and Palace.

Conte´s job is to keep the focus, accept that there will be dropped points (leaving two behind in freezing Burnley is no disgrace) and plough on until warmer weather envelopes the northern hemisphere and everything sorts itself out.

To put Turf Moor into context, Burnley were on a roll; four games undefeated at home, each with a clean sheet.

Chelsea´s seventh-minute opener was exquisite. After that, Burnley dominated by pouncing - hard - on any attack by the Blues, and effectively snuffed out any hope of a winner having levelled with a beaut of a curling free kick.

Pedro´s ninth goal of the season was made possible by the galloping Victor Moses, who slid the ideal ball through to his equally nippy team-mate.

Chelsea have not lost any game this season when they have opened the scoring, which is proof of the power of confidence.

A first goal gives the Blues belief, steadies the nerves better than any shot of brandy, licenses the team to dream, lubricates the working parts, settles the hyperactive manager and inspires the smug sense of entitlement that so infuriates fans of teams made up of mere mortals.

The gods are still smiling on SW6.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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