Twin piques

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Ross Barkley of Chelsea (right). PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

The Blues head to Lancashire on Sunday for a tricky away fixture at an ancient ground surrounded by stunning hills.

Burnley’s Turf Moor stadium is the kind of place where teams with unexpected unbeaten records can easily come a cropper.

Then again, when referees are prepared to fully compensate teams for opponents’ time-wasting tactics, anything is possible.

Manchester United seemed certain to leave Stamford Bridge with three points last weekend, but man-in-black Mike Dean was alert to the Reds taking an age to make late substitutions and granted six minutes of stoppage time.

The Blues needed all of them to claw back a late, late equaliser via sub Ross Barkley, leading to the undignified baiting of Jose Mourinho by a grey tracksuited underling who should have known better.

Morrie Sarri is having to ring the changes in his team selection thanks to another Europa tie this week, but Barkley is getting back to full match fitness as well as full match confidence, and the board’s confidence in signing him is being fully repaid.

Contrast that with poor Alvaro Morata, who left the pitch with his head hanging after being subbed yet again. It’s just not clicking for the man who became a father of twins in July.

Since trading in his No9 shirt for No29 to mark the summer double, he’s scored… you’ve guessed it… twice. Olivier Giroud may be preferred at Turf Moor.

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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