THE PREMIER LEAGUE IS BACK!
The wait is finally over, Chelsea face Burnley at 3pm on Saturday in the curtain raiser of our title defence. The last time we went into a new campaign as champions, all did not go to plan, but Antonio Conte will be hoping for a better beginning this time around.
Despite defeat in the Community Shield, and despite our shortfalls in the transfer market, Saturday provides us with an opportunity to lay down a marker – we will fight for this title.
INJURIES AND SUSPENSIONS
We will have to do it without Eden Hazard, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Victor Moses, with the first two recovering from respective injuries and Moses serving a one-match suspension having been sent off in the FA Cup final.
Pedro suffered a nasty facial injury during a nasty collision with Arsenal’s David Ospina during pre-season, but was declared fit to play at Wembley and is available for selection once more this weekend. There are no fresh injury concerns for Conte.
The previous three fixtures between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge bode well for the home side. Chelsea have picked up two wins out of three, with the one draw coming in February 2015, with Nemanja Matic being shown a red card for shoving Ashley Barnes to the ground.
Only in one of the previous three meetings between the two sides at the Bridge have Burnley got on the scoresheet, that was during the aforementioned stalemate. We’re not expecting an opening day goal fest in SW6.
Across the last six times these teams have come toe-to-toe, both at Stamford Bridge and Turf Moor, it is a similar story of Chelsea’s dominance. The Blues have an aggregate lead of 13-4, and have, unsurprisingly, dominated possession. Only once in the last six games between the two sides have Burnley scored the opening goal, so Conte will be hoping his side get on the scoresheet first and settle their nerves.
Stamford Bridge was a tough place to visit last season, Chelsea picking up maximum points in their last five games at home is testament to that. Burnley, will, however, be offered encouragement by Crystal Palace’s shock 2-1 victory over us at the tail-end of our title charge.
Burnley won just one game on the road last season. No, that’s not a typo – ONE. That was, coincidentally, at Crystal Palace in the same month that they won at the Bridge. It’s difficult to see Sean Dyche’s equalling their win tally for the previous campaign against the champions this Saturday.
Chelsea finished the previous campaign with a flourish, as shown in the below graphic – six wins out of six. However, we will be without Bakayoko, Hazard and Moses, and our performance against Arsenal in the Community Shield was less than convincing. Dyche will have confidence he can cause an upset for that reason.
Burnley have recorded just one victory in their previous six Premier League fixtures, their away win at Selhurst Park. Despite the arrivals of former Blue Jack Cork, Jonathan Walters and Phil Bardsley, the departures of Michael Keane and Andre Gray represent a huge loss, and their side is arguably worse than the one that picked up just four points out of a possible 18 at the end of last season.
Chelsea scored an average of 2.8 goals in their final six games of last season, whereas Burnley conceded 1.8 goals per game on average. There is certainly goals in this one for us if Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi have their shooting boots on.
The start of the Premier League season means one thing for many football fans – the return of betting. The odds for Chelsea to pick up all three points are not great, with Sky Bet offering just 2/9, but there is still ways you could make money through this fixture.
Chelsea have scored first in seven of their last ten games, conceding first in just three. Burnley, however, have scored first in six of their last ten. You would, though, assume that after all the negativity surrounding the Blues, with Conte continually reaffirming his discontent with our transfer dealings, we will be keen to get off the mark quickly on Saturday. Both Michy Batshuayi and Alvaro Morata will also be looking to get on the scoresheet after firing blanks in the Community Shield.
On average over the last five games, Chelsea have scored 2.8 goals and conceded 1.3. It’d probably be safe to say this game will see over 2.5 goals. Chelsea have also conceded in seven of their last ten games, so you could see both teams get on the scoresheet, especially with our defence looking frail in pre-season.
Chelsea 3-1 Burnley