Chelsea are heading into 2017-18 Premier League season as defending champions, but Antonio Conte’s side will have to hit the ground running against Burnley after a difficult preseason.
Conte had a disappointing transfer window and a number of pre-season defeats, culminating in the Community Shield loss to London rivals Arsenal. Their participation at International Champions Cup was concluded with two defeats, by Bayern Munich and Inter, respectively. Unlike the previous season, Chelsea will compete in UEFA Champions league in addition to Premier League and Cup tournaments. The Italian coach has added Morata, Rudiger, Caballero and Bakayoko to his squad but also seen a number of promising youngsters leave and more importantly losing Nemanja Matic to rivals Manchester United and Romelu Lukaku opting Old Trafford over Stamford Bridge.
While Blues handed a favourable opener to their title defence in Burnley, Sean Dyche’s men are bound to have worked hard this summer to ensure their away form is as disastrous as the last term with one win from 19 on road. Burnley has made several worthy acquisitions during the summer such as Jonathan Walters from Stoke and Charlie Taylor from Leeds. This season, Burnley are likely to fight for the middle of the table, but securing the survival is the key for Dyche’s team.
Conte has a number of injury concerns heading into the new season, with 40mp midfield signing Bakayoko still unavailable and Eden Hazard is well on the path to recovery following a broken ankle and will not be available until September. Conte can start Alvaro Morata on the left wing as Michy Batshuayi will lead the line although Pedro and Willian both started ahead of 64 million Euros. With Victor Moses suspended, Conte may have to alter his usual three-man defence of David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta and place the latter at right wing-back. Rudiger might be forced into the team despite lacking match fitness.
Burnley narrowly avoided relegation last season, finishing six points and two places above 18th place. Clarets had a solid pre-season and scored in all of their warm-up matches. Burnley start their season with one of the toughest possible assignments, away to defending champions, Chelsea. They lost last season’s star performer Michael Keane to Everton, when Watford came calling for key striker Andre Gray but Walters sees opportunity where others find adversity. Keane’s place in defence is expected to go to James Tarkowski while Walters will start into forward line. Jack Cork is also lined up for debut in the midfield but Phil Bardsley is not fully match fit and may have to wait till second game week.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Thibaut Courtois; Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz, Gary Cahill; Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso; Willian, Michy Batshuayi, Pedro.
Burnley (4-4-2): Tom Heaton; Matthew Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor; Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield; Jonathan Walters, Sam Vokes.
Chelsea 3-0 Burnley.
This article is written by Vishwambhar Sholapur. What are your thoughts? Let us know by dropping a comment via our comments box below. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and like us on Facebook.