Admit it – this was a result which ruined your Fantasy Premier League points total and probably messed up the weekend accumulator you had on too.
It’s safe to say that few of us expected the Champions to crumble so badly at home on the first day of the season – myself included. I’d imagine many Chelsea fans saw this as the ideal fixture to start their title defence, and rightly so; the Clarets were terrible on the road last season, only recording one away victory all campaign.
‘Everything is not as it seems’
Everything is not as it seems behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge though. Diego Costa exiled from the team and heading towards the exit, Nemanja Matic bizarrely sold to rivals United… hardly ideal preparation for the new season. Antonio Conte was reserved and cut an unhappy figure on the touchline throughout this match – a stark contrast to the animated personality we saw last year.
As for Burnley, I was interested to see how Sean Dyche would set his team up. 4-4-2 was our formation of choice for most of the 16/17 season, but after the recent departure of Andre Gray to Watford and subsequent lack of pace going forward, it would make sense to pack the midfield and place a target man up top – at least away from home against the so-called ‘big boys’. This is indeed what Dyche opted for, with his 4-5-1.
With key men Eden Hazard and Pedro injured, Burnley perhaps sensed an opportunity prior to kick-off. These hopes were further raised in the 13th minute, when Gary Cahill went in two footed on Steven Defour. While there was no malicious intent in the tackle, Cahill could have no complaints; the outcome may have been much worse had Defour’s feet not been off the ground.
At that stage, I wondered whether we’d actually make use of the man advantage. Even without their captain on the field, I felt Conte’s team still had enough quality to score and then see the game through.
However, the Clarets were ruthless following Cahill’s dismissal. Sam Vokes, my pick for the recent AOF Fantasy League article, was a stand-out performer; the Welshman carried over his excellent form from last season with a brace. Stephen Ward’s finish for the second goal was sublime, while the midfield trio of Cork, Hendrick and Defour ran the show.
Chelsea’s lack of discipline throughout was alarming. They were reduced to 9 men early in the second half after Cesc Fabregas received a second bookable offence – the first needlessly picked up from sarcastic clapping of the referee. On reflection, David Luiz was also lucky to have escaped punishment – he lost his cool and appeared to butt heads with Robbie Brady just before the break.
Part and parcel of being a Burnley fan is that you still worry, even with a 3-goal cushion. The introduction of big-money signing Alvaro Morata changed Chelsea’s approach in the second half; they showed attacking intent with Morata at the heart of everything – scoring one and assisting the other. Had he been brought on at half-time, perhaps the Blues may have sneaked that elusive third goal to complete the comeback.
Despite a few heart in the mouth moments, thankfully this didn’t happen. As the final whistle blew, I felt exhausted after just listening to the match at home. I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the away end! Sean Dyche pumped his fists, realising the enormity of the result; not only was it the first league victory over Chelsea in 46 years, but it gets the away day monkey off our backs early on.
Following this result, surely Conte will need to go out and make some signings to ease the worry of a turbulent season. They just don’t look to have enough depth at the moment, particular when you consider how many well thought of youngsters have been shipped out this transfer window. I’d be interested to hear Chelsea fans’ thoughts on the matter.
As for Burnley, it’s 3 points on the board already and back to our home comforts against West Brom next weekend. In the meantime, I’ll be living off this special victory and sporting my claret and blue with pride.
What do you make of yesterday’s result? Work to be done for Chelsea? Let us know in the comments!