Chelsea have avoided defeat in their last 18 opening day fixtures. When they did finally face defeat to start the season, they did so in incredible fashion against Burnley.
The Blues’ capitulation began after Gary Cahill was sent off for a high challenge with his studs showing and the Blues collapsed from that moment on. It was Sam Vokes who opened the scoring only ten minutes later as he pushed the ball past Thibaut Courtois and into the far corner of the net.
Stephen Ward added a second before half-time to effectively put the game to bed with an impressive and powerful finish before Vokes’ netted again with a strong header past Courtois.
Alvaro Morata pulled one back with a diving header on his debut for the Blues but Cesc Fabregas’ late red card put an end to any hope of a comeback for the reigning Premier League champions. David Luiz revived faint hopes with a smart finish, but it wasn’t enough.
Here are how the Chelsea players rated…
Thibaut Courtois – 6
Perhaps little he could have done about the goals, but he looked shaky at other times. On more than one occasion he fumbled catches that would usually be routine.
Antonio Rudiger – 4
Looked out of his depth. Needless fouls conceded all over the place, he struggled to keep up with the pace of Premier League football even against opposition who are not of the highest quality.
David Luiz – 5
Furious from start to finish. At moments he looked more like the Luiz of old whose head had gone far too early on in the game. He took his late goal well with a smart finish.
Gary Cahill – 4
His only real contribution was his sending off. Needless and rash, a player of Cahill’s experience should know better than to make that kind of tackle. Let his team-mates down.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 4
Not a wing-back. Had several opportunities to deliver a cross into the box early on but failed on every occasion. Struggled to improve and looked out of place.
N’Golo Kante – 6
At times looked like his energy may have been enough to mount a revival but he was rapidly overwhelmed by Burnley and the incompetence of his team-mates. He couldn’t do it all on his own.
Cesc Fabregas – 4
Incomprehensible that a player of his experience would be sent off in those circumstances, much like Cahill. His red card was equally as needless and he really should have known better than to make a late and high challenge when already on a yellow card. The fact that he was first booked for sarcastically applauding the referee only compounds the petulance of his display.
Marcos Alonso – 6
Unable to find the quality to threaten despite having several opportunities come his way. His very early yellow card was the first sign of the indiscipline which was to follow with two sending offs.
Willian – 7
Brilliant delivery for Alvaro Morata’s goal and their best attacking threat until his introduction. His movement was also a threat, but he was occasionally guilty of giving the ball away too easily.
Michy Batshuayi – 5
Chased around a lot up-front and tried to produce a threat. He didn’t, but at least he put himself about in an attempt to.
Jeremie Boga – 6
A disappointing debut in these circumstances. Looked bright in the opening stages.
Andreas Christensen (for Boga, 18) – 5
Could do nothing about any of the Burnley goals. May have scored had Morata not tried to force the ball into the back of the net from an offside position. Lost the physical battle.
Alvaro Morata (for Batshuayi, 59) – 8
World class run and diving header to pull one back. If there was a positive, it was the Spaniard as he looked a threat throughout, even with very little service. Brilliant header to set up Luiz.
Charly Musonda (for Christensen, 90+2) – N/A
One last roll of the dice which showed the lack of depth to Conte’s squad.