Chelsea may be reigning Premier League champions, but survival experts Burnley gave them an opening day shock at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues got off to a nightmare start as Gary Cahill was sent off for a high challenge with his studs showing and the Blues collapsed from that moment on. It didn’t take long for Burnley to capitalise and only ten minutes later Sam Vokes gave his side the lead as he fired a pin-point finish past Thibaut Courtois and into the far corner of the net.
The second came in even more spectacular fashion as produced an impressive rocket which once again left Courtois helpless. That came not long before Vokes’ netted again with a strong header past Courtois to give his team a convincing lead before half-time.
Second half substitute Alvaro Morata pulled one back with a diving header on his debut, and David Luiz’s smart finish meant that there was a faint hope for a comeback, even after Cesc Fabregas saw red for two yellow card offences.
Here are three things that The Boot Room learnt from the game…
Antonio Conte is right to fear the a “Mourinho season”
Only two weeks ago, Antonio Conte expressed his fear that Chelsea could collapse this season. The Italian himself is quoted by the Guardian as having said:
“We know the difficulty of the next season and for sure we want to avoid the Mourinho season with Chelsea. Two years ago the team ended the league in 10th place and we want to try to avoid this.”
The Blues were embarrassed by the display of Burnley on Saturday. Their ill discipline was clear for all to see as many looked tired and frustrated, despite it still being the opening game of the season. Two red cards showed that much.
Looking to the bench, Antonio Conte was lacking strength in depth. Of those introduced, alongside young Jeremie Boga in the starting eleven, Charly Musonda and Andreas Christensen were among the more experienced. Two suspensions will only put the likes of teenagers Fikayo Tomori and Kyle Scott closer to the starting eleven.
Burnley shouldn’t be relegation candidates
Amongst many pundits and experts, Burnley have been among the favourites to go down this season. They looked nothing like relegation candidates at Stamford Bridge though, and as much as Chelsea were poor, Burnley were excellent.
They will miss Andre Gray’s goals after he moved to Watford, but the often under appreciated Sam Vokes showed that he is more than capable of stepping up. With his brace, two excellent finishes, he made his case and Sean Dyche may now be considering whether Vokes can step up to be the main man alongside a less experienced partner.
Defensively, the Turf Moor club were also strong. It wasn’t until the closing stages when the reigning champions threw everything at them when they found a breakthrough. Few sides score three goals at Stamford Bridge, and Burnley made sure it was enough.
Chelsea desperately need a leader
Gary Cahill may have taken over the armband but his rash and needless challenge, which fairly saw red, just showed that he is a poor replacement for John Terry. David Luiz was another candidate, but his finger pointing and confrontational attitude as soon as things went wrong showed why Conte ignored him from the consideration.
Cesar Azpilicueta stepped in to the role after Cahill’s sending off, but he couldn’t do enough to get his side going. Lacking discipline and losing all control, the Blues were crying out for a leader to calm things down and get them focused again. Instead, they capitulated and conceded three by half time.