Chelsea will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they visit Burnley on Sunday. The home side haven’t enjoyed the best start to the season and their defeat to Manchester City last weekend was close to embarrassing. That said, there will be more teams that go to the Etihad Stadium and concede plenty of goals. For the visitors, they will be wanting to increase the pressure on the league leaders with a similar performance at Turf Moor.
Last season, Burnley were one of the feel-good stories of the season as they beat the odds to qualify for Europe. It was always going to be a difficult task to replicate that success and they have found that. Their campaign was started on a sour note as they were knocked out of the Europa League before the group stage of the competition. In hindsight, that may be considered a blessing in disguise as the Clarets clearly don’t have the squad depth to challenge on multiple fronts.
Maurizio Sarri is starting to get Chelsea playing effectively in his system and that is a warning to the rest of the Premier League. The Italian managed to get Napoli to compete with the behemoth that is Juventus and he will be capable of even more with the resources available at Stamford Bridge. Eden Hazard has taken his game to a new level during the opening weeks of the season. Meanwhile, the Europa League victory on Thursday showed the quality that exists within the squad. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the major talking point as he scored his first professional hat-trick. The midfielder must now be in the manager’s plans.
Only three teams have conceded more goals than Burnley this season. That is an area that needs to improve.
Loftus-Cheek became the first English player to score a hat-trick in the Europa League since Harry Kane managed the feat in 2014.
The Burnley defender received a lot of plaudits for his success at the heart of the Burnley defence last season. His emergence meant that the team didn’t suffer after the loss of Micheal Keane to Everton. Tarkowski has shown his worth this season, as both a defender and an aerial threat from set-pieces. They remain the Clarets’ best chance of scoring goals against the top-six teams and will be an area that they target this weekend. The centre-back has scored twice this season and will be the player that Chelsea fear in the air. As a defender, he is important as he organises the back four and is capable of winning the ball back for his team. His average of 4.4 successful aerial duels per game underlines his quality at the back.
It has been a strange start to the season for the Chelsea midfielder as he is having to adjust to a new role in the team. The signing of Jorginho has helped the team adjust to Sarri’s system, but it has forced Kante to change his game. The Frenchman is now expected to play a box-to-box role but his technical ability in the final third has hindered him during the opening matches. As a former PFA Player of the Year, it is clear that Kante has the talent to thrive in the new role, but more is expected from him. His current average of only 2.9 ball recoveries per game is a concern, as this is the area of the game that he excels at. Sunday will be another chance for the midfielder to impress and he must take it.
Ben Gibson and Robbie Brady are both doubts for the home side. Steven Ward remains on the sidelines with a knee injury. Meanwhile, Nick Pope is expected to be missing until December at the earliest.
Eden Hazard is a slight doubt with a back injury, but he is expected to take his place in the Chelsea starting eleven. Loftus-Cheek will be hoping for more game-time after a standout performance in the Europa League.
If this match was being played last season, Burnley would be confident of taking something from the game. However, they have been a lot less effective this campaign, while Chelsea have undergone a revolution under Maurizio Sarri. The Blues have to be considered heavy favourites and anything other than a comfortable away victory would be a surprise.