After a pulsating start to the PL season which saw Arsenal and Leicester serve up a thrilling seven-goal encounter, Chelsea welcome Sean Dyche and his Burnley side to the Bridge, as the Blues kickoff their title defence today.
The Blues have been anything but champions lately, if their preseason form is anything to go by.
They won just two of their six matches, including a 4-1 penalty shootout loss to city rivals, Arsenal, in the Community Shield at Wembley.
For the Clarets, they did enjoy a good preseason, going undefeated heading into today’s game at Stamford Bridge, a venue they hardly get a result.
Champions, Chelsea going into this match missing some key players, with talisman, Eden Hazard, who missed the curtain raiser at Wembley, leading the pack.
New signing, Tiemoue Bakayoko will miss the game, as manager Antonio Conte is wary of rushing his new acquisition back from an injury which saw him miss the club’s preseason tour.
There are doubts over fellow new arrival, Alvaro Morata, who joined from Real Madrid for a club record, after Conte said the striker ‘needs time to adapt.’
Pedro is also out of the game, following an ankle injury he picked up last Sunday, in that loss against the Gunners.
However, defender, Antonio Rudiger could make his debut as a replacement for wingback, Victor Moses, who also misses the match due to suspension, following his red card during their FA cup final loss to Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Dyche’s Burnley has no injury worries heading into the game at the Bridge, except Dean Marney, who’s a long-term injury absentee.
The Champions, Chelsea are facing a situation in the striker position, despite Michy Batshuayi’s preseason form and the acquisition of Morata from European champions, Real Madrid.
The situation with Diego Costa, who has been left in limbo, after manager told him via text he wasn’t needed, is one the Blues have to resolve.
However, Batshuayi scored five goals in preseason, but during the Community Shield match against Arsenal, both he and Morata failed to impress.
So, it’d be interesting to see how Conte goes about handling the situation, with other key men like Hazard, Pedro and Moses not also available.
For the Clarets, they could be facing yet another defeat at Stamford Bridge, after they suffered a 3-0 thumping in their last visit there.
But Sean Dyche and his men, notwithstanding the loss of Andy Gray, who has joined Watford, they could be lifted by the fact that three of the scorers that day, Hazard, Pedro and Moses, won’t be squaring up against them today.
“Honestly, I’m pleased because we are working very well with the team and this group of players,” Chelsea manager, Conte said during his pre-match press conference. ‘
“Their commitment is incredible, even better than last season and I’m very happy because these players are working so hard. We are trying to improve.
“I don’t know if this season will be more difficult than last season. For sure, we are champions and we have to face every game in the right way. The other teams will try to put 120 per cent in against us so we have to pay great attention in every game, have the right approach and play with the right intensity.
“I want to see the real Chelsea today. The season is starting and we must be ready. We have to try to play good football and we have to try to win the game. For sure it will not be easy in this part of the season, but I don’t want to find any excuses for me, my staff or my players. We have to go and to fight and try to win with the players we have.”
Burnley’s manager, Sean Dyche, had this to say:
“It’s a tough start, but you have to play everyone at some stage. We are in the Premier league for the second successive season, which everyone wanted, so you can’t pick and choose.
“They are a fine side but the bigger picture is it’s about a season’s work, not tomorrow.
“The first five or six away games are really tough, but we take them on, as we always do.
“But you can’t measure yourself on one, two three or five games. It’s about a whole season’s work, and that’s what we showed last season.”
“That’s one of our intentions, them of course to add in the detail to make the right mix.”
- Chelsea have won more points (54) on the opening day than any other PL side.
- The Blues haven’t lost on the opening day of the PL since going down to Coventry in 1998.
- The Clarets have won just 12points from a possible 30 on the opening day of the PL.
- Burnley are playing two successive seasons in the top flight division for the first time since the mid-seventies.
- Burnley only won once on the road last season, in April, against Crystal Palace.
Possible Starting XI:
Chelsea XI [3-4-2-1]: Courtois; Rudiger; Luiz; Cahill; Azpilicueta; Kante; Fabregas; Alonso; Willian; Morata; Batshuayi.
Burney XI [4-4-2]: Heaton; Lowton; Tarkowski; Mee, Ward; Brady; Westwood; Cork; Artfield; Vokes; Walters.
With all stats pointing to a Burnley defeat, I wonder if the absence of some key players for the home side will be enough incentive for Dyche’s men to raise their game high enough to shock the champions.
In other games also kicking off today, Liverpool and Klopp are away at Watford, with Mohammed Salah expected to make his PL debut for the Reds.
Southampton welcome Swansea to St. Mary’s , while former Manchester United captain, Wayne Rooney, will be the main attraction as the United legend is set for his second PL debut in an Everton shirt, when they host Stoke City at Goodisoon Park.
Crystal Palace and their manager, Ronald de Boer, would be hoping to get off to a flyer when they welcome one of the new boys, Huddersfield at Selhurt Park, while Bournemouth travel to the Hawthorns to lock horns with Westbrom Albion.
In the last match of the day, big spenders, Manchester City and their manager, Pep Guardiola, are away at Brighton, whom they should have no problems dispatching.