Chelsea will kick off their Premier League title defence at home against one of the sides who narrowly survived a relegation battle last season in Burnley. Saturday afternoon will see Sean Dyche’s side travel to an out of sorts Chelsea in order to try to kick off their campaign in style as they look to extend their Premier League stay for another year.
Chelsea have had a torrid summer, with only one pre-season win, conflict over transfers and a humiliating Community Shield defeat to Arsenal last weekend. Fitness was the key though, and the Blues will be hoping to bounce back from that penalty shoot-out defeat in style.
Burnley have avoided defeat throughout pre-season, with their recent draw against Spanish side Celta Vigo probably the most impressive of all their results. However, having conceded three goals in two games against Championship opposition in Preston North End and Nottingham Forest, a leaky defence may be a concern.
Chelsea will select Cesar Azpilicueta at wing-back, meaning Antonio Rudiger is in line for his first Chelsea start. It may come too soon for Alvaro Morata as the Spaniard rebuilds his fitness though, with Michy Batshuayi’s fine pre-season form likely to have done enough to earn him a start.
Burnley will look to replace Andre Gray with Ashley Barnes, with new signing Jonathan Walters likely to slot in for Johann Gudmundsson due to an injury. Ben Mee and James Tarkowski will be first choice in defence after the departure of Michael Keane.
Pedro will not be forced to serve a suspension after his red card in the Community Shield, but Victor Moses will miss out for Chelsea having been sent off in the FA Cup final in May. Tiemoue Bakayoko’s debut will be delayed as he recovers from a knee operation, with Eden Hazard also out as he overcomes a broken angle. Alvaro Morata may not be fit to start as he continues to gain fitness.
Dean Marney is a long term knee ligament problem, whilst Johann Gudmundsson is also unlikely to feature as he battles to overcome a knee injury of his own.
Match prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Burnley
Chelsea’s quality really should be enough to see off Burnley, particularly after a summer in which they lost their best defender and star striker. Sean Dyche will be hoping for a draw, but as soon as Chelsea score it could be game over.