Manager Carlo Ancelotti made just two changes to his side before the game; Alex replacing the rested Ricardo Carvalho whilst Yuri Zhirkov came in for Deco. The home side, who introduced new manager Brian Laws to the fans before kick off, also shuffled their pack with Robbie Blake and Andrey Bikey returning and new signing Leon Cort handed a debut.
Yet it was a quiet first half at Turf Moor with Chelsea looking much the better side, without having to be at their best, but with chances at a premium for both teams.
Indeed it took until almost the half-hour mark for the visitors to take the lead, but when the goal did come, it was a simple, slick move that revealed the visitors’ superior quality.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech was the instigator, bowling the ball out to Joe Cole running free down the right. The midfielder then floated a fine cross into Florent Malouda in the box and with his first touch he cut it back to Anelka to sidefoot home past Brian Jensen. A fine move and one that had taken a mere 11 seconds from the ball leaving Cech’s gloves to ending up in the back of the home net.
In contrast the home side, pointless and goalless so far in 2010, were struggling to trouble the Londoners although John Terry became the first man in the book after, somewhat cynically, hauling down Blake when he looked set to burst free into the Chelsea half.
The visitors emerged early for the second half yet it was Burnley who were to stun the league leaders within minutes of the restart by grabbing an unlikely equaliser.
A decent ball upfield by Blake found Steven Fletcher who produced a good first touch, but still had Alex for company. The pair raced onto the pass and whilst the Chelsea defender was the first to the ball his attempted clearance only deflected off the midfielder who proceeded to hammer a confident finish past Cech.
The equaliser seemed to rouse Ancelotti’s men and five minutes later they thought they had re-established their lead after a mad scramble in the Burnley area. Anelka who had already caused mayhem found Malouda who set up Cole to head home from close range yet he was, rather harshly, adjudged to be offside and Burnley escaped.
Yet the visitors continued to crank up the pressure with Jensen forced to save well from a Frank Lampard free kick and an Alex header before a great tackle from Clarke Carlisle denied a rampaging Ashley Cole as he burst into the box.
With time running out Ancelotti sent on both Daniel Sturridge and Deco as he sought victory yet with less than 10 minutes to go, it was his captain, who was to provide the inspiration and secure the three points for the visitors,
A Lampard corner in from the right found Terry who powered a header home and past the despairing dive of Jensen to claim a goal that should provide some respite after a difficult week.
Burnley attempted to respond but another goal was beyond them and they remain in the bottom three. The Blues, meanwhile, held on for a victory that puts some distance between themselves and their nearest challengers Manchester United and Arsenal who clash tomorrow.