By Tim Harrison
After the relief (and rarity) of a straightforward home win, Chelsea set off on two successive long-haul weekend treks to the outposts of the north east.
Newcastle in the league and Hull in the cup are 5.30pm kick-offs; good news for Chelsea, as the Blues always struggle with early starts in Geordieland. But not so good for travelling fans hoping to get home before midnight.
Chelsea’s 3-0 home victory over Burnley (the sides’ 100th meeting, with an all-square head-to-head record of wins) included Callum Hudson-Odoi’s first goal in the Premier League – a cute conversion at the far post to nudge home captain Cesar Azpilicueta’s looping cross.
It was another match of VAR intervention but, despite Blues fans’ disparaging chants about the video checking process, all the decisions seemed to go Chelsea’s way.
Maybe the ‘luck’ of VAR evens itself out over the course of a season, but the tedious time delays when the ref stands with a finger in one ear, gazing listlessly into the distance, are still a disruption that the game could do without.
This was, despite a close call for a Burnley ‘goal’ that wasn’t, a remarkably smooth display... quite unlike recent home stutters.
It was also achieved with no yellow cards for the Blues (another rarity), and a complete and focused performance by every player.
Sandwiched between the jaunts to the north east is a home game against Arsenal on Tuesday, when the Blues will again need to be at their sharpest.
Twenty-year-old Reece James is on the brink of being tied down with a new contract, and his recent blossoming is another source of delight and hope at the Bridge.
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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