Can Chelsea kick off their title defence with a victory over Burnley this weekend? Antonio Conte’s side have had an odd summer, despite adding a few big money signings. However, those players have been bought in to replace some big name departures, leaving the squad looking a little thin ahead of a tilt at four competitions. There’s more than a few similarities between this term and the 2015/16 season, when Jose Mourinho’s side fell apart after a lax summer. However, Conte is aware of that risk and the Italian is determined to avoid a similar fate.
Hosting Burnley is a relatively straightforward way to start the season, but we did say the same about Swansea two years ago. Could Burnley pull off one of the biggest shocks in their history? With survival being the goal for the Clarets once again, this game isn’t a real test for them in the relegation battle. However, they could do without a demoralising opening day loss to the champions.
Team News: Conte lacking options following Wembley loss
Chelsea were down to the bare bones for their clash with Arsenal in the Community Shield. Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko remain out, while Diego Costa is still an outcast. Victor Moses was allowed to play in the curtain raiser because it was classified as a friendly, but he’s suspended here. That’s going to lead to a reshuffled backline, with Cesar Azpilicueta moving to right-wing back and Antonio Rudiger stepping into the back three.
Outside of that, Conte doesn’t have the room to make changes. He’d probably like more competition amongst his players, but right now he has a side which picks itself. That was a bonus last season, but it’s a big issue this time around.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche should keep the faith with the side that helped them to safety last season. That was a huge achievement for the club, and they’ve made a few understated signings after securing another year of Premier League TV revenue. They may introduce a few of their new signings to their side here, but we don’t expect them to be too different from the side which hosted the Blues at Turf Moor earlier this year. One doubt for the Clarets is Andre Gray, who is being linked with a big money move away from the club, possibly to high-spending Championship side Wolves.
Sean Dyche has made some odd signings this summer, bringing in established Premier League names like Phil Bardsley and Jon Walters. He’s brought former Blue Jack Cork to Turf Moor, which seems like a solid signing. However, is that enough to keep them in the top flight? And can it help them pull off a result away to the champions this weekend?
Burnley’s survival last season was largely down to their excellent home form, their away results were awful. They were beaten in almost every away trip, though they just about got their act together late in the season. However, the pressure was off them by then, as their home results got them over the line. The worrying thing for Dyche is that they were safe with some time to spare last season, and then they limped to the finish line. Sides who do that usually have a tough start, and that’s something that the Clarets simply can’t afford.
Chelsea vs Burnley Head to Head
Given that this is the first time Burnley have kicked off a second consecutive Premier League season, meetings between the pair aren’t that regular. The Blues have been comfortable winners in most of their clashes, although the Clarets did put in a strong showing during their meeting at Turf Moor back in February. Will Conte’s side find this game as tough after their difficult summer?
- Burnley 1-1 Chelsea, Feb 2017
- Chelsea 3-0 Burnley, Aug 2016
- Chelsea 1-1 Burnley, Feb 2015
- Burnley 1-3 Chelsea, Aug 2014
- Chelsea 3-0 Burnley, Aug 2009
- Chelsea to win and both teams to score – 21/10 with Ladbrokes
- Cesc Fabregas to score any time – 21/10 with Coral
Chelsea may not be having the best of times lately, but they’re still massive favourites to see off the Clarets at home. Sky Bet have priced them up at 1/4 for the victory at home, and we struggle to see the Blues failing to win this opening game. They should be able to get around the Clarets, but we don’t think it’s going to be an easy match. There could be a few goals in this one, and not all for the hosts. With a reorganised back line taking the pitch here, could the Blues slip up at the back?
While the 3-4-3 blew teams away last season, there were signs that it was being slightly figured out as they went along towards the end. Eight of the Blues’ last 10 home matches saw them concede, and they’re at risk of adding to that poor run here. Burnley were struggling for goals on the road in the first half of last season, but once they got started they were tough to stop. They scored in 10 of their last 12 matches on the road, but they still didn’t win too many of those. We see them scoring again, but like we said a Chelsea win seems inevitable. We’re backing a home win and BTTS at 21/10 with Ladbrokes.
Chelsea are missing most of their key goalscorers up front, so they’ll need someone to step up in this clash. Alvaro Morata doesn’t look match fit, and Michy Batshuayi is still unproven in the Premier League. Cesc Fabregas is going to be the big winner from this injury crisis, as he’s slotting into central midfield. He is going to need to use all his experience to help the team through the opening weeks, and we can see him providing a goal. He’s priced at 21/10 with Coral to score any time, which we think is worth backing.