LONDON – Chelsea, which started Monday’s match against Burnley with a chance to climb to third place in the Premier League, could manage only a 2-2 draw and it remains in the thick of a four-club scramble for the last two Champion League berths.
Only one point separates Liverpool – with 88 points – and holder Manchester City as they wage an epic battle for the title.
The gap between City and third-place Tottenham Hotspur is 20 points.
While the draw with Burnley left Chelsea level on points with Spurs at 67, Tottenham has the edge on goal difference, leaving the Blues in 4th, just one point ahead of the Gunners and three better than Man United.
And Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United have each played one fewer match than Chelsea.
After a weekend which saw Spurs lose 1-0 away to City, United embarrassed 4-0 at Everton and Arsenal bested 3-2 by Crystal Palace at the Emirates, the stage was set on Monday for Chelsea to steal a march on its rivals.
Yet it was the visitor that struck first at Stamford Bridge, as Jeff Hendrick beat Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with a solid volley to put Burnley ahead in the 8th minute.
The lead lasted only four minutes, however, as Eden Hazard produced some of his trademark brilliance to set up an equalizer by N’Golo Kante.
Chelsea went up 2-1 in the 14th minute on a fine goal by Gonzalo Higuain, who worked an elegant give-and-go inside the area with Cesar Azpilicueta before blasting the ball past Burnley keeper Tom Heaton.
The hosts looked to be in command until a Burnley free kick in the 24th minute, when the ball ultimately fell to Ashley Barnes standing unmarked at the far post and he knocked it in to level the contest at 2-2.
The Blues suffered another set-back before the break, as Callum Hudson-Odoi left with an injury in the 41st minute.
Despite enjoying 76 percent possession, the hosts barely threatened the Burnley goal in the second half and the visitors came away with a point that all but assures them of remaining in the Premier League.
Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri was sent off in stoppage time for going outside his technical area and the final whistle was followed by some scuffles at the entrance to the tunnel.
Burnley, which began 2019 in the drop zone, has won eight of its 16 matches since then and is now 15th, nine points clear of the bottom three.