Robbie Brady produced a home debut to remember as Burnley secured a well-deserved point against Premier League champions-elect, Chelsea. The Irishman, who completed a deadline-day move worth up to £13 million from Norwich City, cancelled out Pedro’s seventh-minute opener with a superb 25-yard free kick that gave Thibaut Courtois no chance. Burnley showed why they have been so successful at home this season with a combative display. Not even Chelsea, who are 10 points clear at the top of the table, could breach their defences more than once.
Considering the significant outlay that helped to bring Brady to Turf Moor, manager Sean Dyche – not to mention the club’s supporters – will have been delighted by the record signing’s polished performance. Brady had been a key player for Norwich during a two-year spell in East Anglia, but the step-up to the top-flight is not to be underestimated and it can take time to adapt. Not so for the 25-year-old, it seems, for whom it took less than half an hour to stamp his quality on the match.
Chelsea had gone ahead on early on thanks to Spain international Pedro and most onlookers were expecting Antonio Conte’s side to march to another easy victory. But they hadn’t counted on Brady’s intervention. On 24 minutes, Burnley were awarded a free-kick roughly 20 yards from goal. Up stepped Brady, who struck a wonderful left-footed effort that beat Courtois’s despairing dive en route to the top corner of his net. Remarkably, it was the first direct free-kick that Chelsea have conceded since 2013 – and what a fitting way it was to end that run.
Brady is renowned as a dead-ball specialist and his timing was perfect here, on his full debut. But it would be wrong to typecast him. Technically he is an excellent player, a neat passer, and it is clear, even in the embryonic stages of his time at Burnley, that he will add a great deal of quality to the ranks. The Clarets play to their strengths with a direct approach – particularly at Turf Moor, which has become a fortress for them. But Brady’s ability on the ball will enable Dyche’s men to maintain possession more easily, particularly away from home. Although he was substituted for Scott Arfield on 65 minutes, his impact had been telling.