Burnley v CHELSEA: Preview


Venue: Turf Moor
Date: Monday, 18 August
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT

At long last our first game of the season is here and it’s an away fixture against Burnley to kick off our 2014/15 campaign. An easy one considering the Betfair betting odds for the game, you might think? Well there’s no such thing as an easy game when it’s the first one of the season, even more so against the new arrivals who’ll undoubtedly want to make their mark on the Premier League given the opportunity.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has had a busy summer bolstering his squad with 7 new signings in preparation for their return to the top flight but then Jose Mourinho was quick off the mark to sort his summer signings as well, and he’s pleased with the club’s business during the break, as well he might. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas should give us some fire power up front, whilst Filipe Luis and the return from loan of Thibaut Courtois gives added protection at the back. As Mourinho says, it’s not perfect but it’s pretty bloody good.

MANAGERS’ VIEWS
Ahead of tonight’s game, Burnley boss Sean Dyche already nicknamed ‘the ginger Mourinho’ by some, says “There were some big games last year, people forget that. We played Wigan and delivered a fantastic performance, and that’s probably the biggest game these players have played in a long time, because that one clinches what you’re trying to do, and that means a lot to the club, a lot financially, a lot to the area, and of course the kudos of getting promoted.
It’s fair to say the first one against Chelsea, massive club, coming to Turf Moor under the lights with the TV cameras, that’s a big game in itself. So it’s how the players respond. We work hard on the training pitch to allow them the chance to deliver when that moment comes.”

On tonight’s game and causing an early upset in the Premier League, Dyche says “Never say never. Was it Cardiff who got three points off Manchester City early last season? I don’t think many would have been expecting that. There are no guarantees in any division in any season, let alone the Premier League, so we have to earn the right and fight hard to get what we can off anyone.”
The real Mourinho meanwhile, comes into the new season in buoyant mood, saying “My squad is very good, not perfect, but it’s very good. The squad has experience, it has characters and personalities, it has people with ambition. We covered many positions. I’m very happy with the squad.
It’s been a difficult pre-season because we started with seven players. After that, step by step, players were arriving after the World Cup and holidays. Finally, in this last week we’ve had everybody together but obviously not everyone is prepared. For example, [Branislav] Ivanovic has been training for one month, Schurrle has trained for five days, so there is a big difference between players. We have to play the first league match next weekend and we will be ready for that.”

SQUAD NEWS
For Burnley, striker Sam Vokes (knee) remains out injured for the start of this campaign although goalkeeper Tom Heaton (calf) is fit after missing several warm-up games. New signings Lukas Jutkiewicz, Michael Kightly, Steven Reid, Marvin Sordell and Matt Taylor will all be keen to make their debuts.
For Chelsea, Didier Drogba (knee) will get a late assessment although is likely to make the bench, although several players involved in the latter stages of the World Cup may lack match fitness. Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis should all make their debuts, while Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois will arm wrestle for the starting place in goal.

TEAMS
BURNLEY (Possible lineup): Heaton, Duff, Shackell, Mee,Trippier; Jones, Taylor; Arfield, Marney, Kightly; Ings
CHELSEA (Possible lineup): Courtois, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luis; Matic, Fabregas;Oscar, Hazard, Willian; Costa

LAST SEASON
N/A

OTHER STUFF
Burnley have not beaten Chelsea in a top-flight match since a 1-0 victory at Turf Moor on 28 August 1973.
Burnley beat Chelsea in the fourth round of the League Cup in 2008 after beating them on penalties at Stamford Bridge
Burnley have avoided defeat in their first league fixture in the last four seasons (W2, D2).
Burnley lost their only previous opening game in the Premier League (2-0 to Stoke in 2009)
Burnley have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 27 Premier League matches

Chelsea have not lost their first league fixture since a 2-1 defeat at Coventry in 1998. Chelsea have won 13 of 15 opening games since, including all five matches with Jose Mourinho in charge.
Chelsea have not conceded a goal on the opening day in the last four seasons.

PREDICTION
The expectation is that we’ll win this comfortably. We have a great record on the opening day but then so did United until Saturday. In other words, we shouldn’t be too cocky about tonight’s game, Burnley will go all out to prove themselves and they’ll know a lot more about us than we do about them. If I were the betting type, I’d have money on Costa’s first card of the campaign though.

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