Chelsea will be looking to retain their Premier League title this season, avoiding the title collapse witnessed in the 2015/2016 season. First though they face a Burnley side who will be experiencing their first consecutive Premier League season, having suffered relegation after a single top division season in recent years.
That doesn’t mean that Burnley won’t provide a stern test though, as they proved last season that their solidity could bring positive results against the top teams; such as their 3-0 win over Liverpool and 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
The champions will be looking for a positive start to life without their ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ John Terry. Chelsea’s willingness to spend this summer has looked promising, although the team will have to rely on the fresh faces adapting quickly to Premier League life.
They will also be hoping for improved displays compared to their preseason, with Chelsea only beating Arsenal in their 4 fixtures, and that win did not come in the key Community Shield opener.
For their season opener it appears that none of their new signings will be starting; with Morata struggling for fitness, Bakayoko injured and Rudiger needing time to displace any member of Chelsea’s rear-guard.
It is also doubtful that Caballero will start ahead of Courtois, despite the potentially morale sapping Community Shield display for the Belgian. Chelsea will also be without Hazard for the game, with Pedro and Willian likely to support Batshuayi up top.
The Belgian striker will be looking to make the most of the rare opportunity to start, with Costa almost certainly on his way out having been excluded from the club’s preseason activities.
Burnley had the 2nd best defensive record for teams in the bottom half of the table last season, which bodes well for them going into this fixture. However will this hold up without Michael Keane at the heart of their defence after losing him to Everton?
Dyche can now call upon the services of Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor to enhance their defence, with the experience of Bardsley and youthful exuberance of Taylor likely to be welcome additions to the team. Furthermore the return of Jack Cork to Burnley, a club he played for between 2010 and 2011, should provide extra steel to the midfield.
It does however remain to be seen if these additions can make up for the loss of their leading central defender, as Dyche has not looked to directly replace Keane in the transfer window.
Burnley will likely spend the game losing out on the possession stats and soaking up pressure, and they will be hoping the likes of Sam Vokes and Robbie Brady can race off the blocks this season, with their pace allowing an effective counter-attacking option.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 1 Burnley.
Written by Theo Atherton-Green.