Chelsea are emerging as the third best team in the Premier League and they will be looking to extend their winning run on Saturday against Burnley. This will be a different test for Frank Lampard, as the home sides will offer a physical battle that will be a new challenge for the young players. For the hosts, they have had a good start to the campaign as they sit in eighth position with the same record as Tottenham. Sean Dyche has done an excellent job in Lancashire, with the Clarets now an established team in the top-flight. They will be relishing the opportunity to end the Blues’ winning run.
Burnley continue to show that they don’t need to spend big money to compete in the Premier League. They have an established core and they are never roundly beaten. Their ability to stay in games means that they will pick up points consistently and they will be looking to finish in the top half. The strike partnership of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood is the main talking point, but the defence also deserves credit. The Clarets have conceded only 11 goals in nine matches. Many will fancy them to get something from the weekend.
Lampard was seen as a huge risk when he was appointed in the summer and he is slowly proving his critics wrong. Those that have followed Chelsea closely will have seen his development since the opening day of the season. The Blues were far too open against Manchester United and they were punished, but they are getting better every week. The performance and result against Ajax was excellent, especially as they started the match as the underdogs. If they perform similarly in the Premier League on a regular basis, they will finish in the top four with comfort.
- Dwight McNeill has eight Premier League assists and six of those have come for Chris Wood.
- Last weekend, Chelsea named five English players in their starting eleven for the first time in the Premier League since February 2013.
The New Zealand international has scored four goals in his last four matches after a frustrating run at the start of the season. Burnley’s biggest strength is their strike force, with Barnes and Wood proving to be a handful for any team in the division. They work hard and are physical threats, which can be very difficult to contain when the team get the service right. At times, it can be a throwback to past days and defences can struggle. Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma have been playing together recently, but they both remain relatively inexperienced. Wood will be relishing the chance to test both of those and he is likely to dominate the aerial battles. Given his recent form, he has a great chance to get on the scoresheet against Chelsea.
Chelsea have an excellent group of young players, but Callum Hudson-Odoi could be the pick of the bunch. He will have been disappointed to have missed the start of the season and will have feared missing out, but he is now taking his chance and he could be ready for a breakthrough year. Supporters were frustrated at his lack of opportunities under Maurizio Sarri and it is easy to see why they wanted to see him in the starting eleven. Hudson-Odoi has dynamism and it is easy to see why Bayern Munich saw him as a potential replacement for Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. The 18-year-old has burst back onto the scene after injury with an assist in each of his three Premier League games to date. Burnley will be difficult to break down, which is why the skill of the young winger will be important for the Blues’ chances.
Chris Wood is a doubt, but he is expected to be passed fit. Ashley Barnes and Jack Cork should both be available for the home side. Johann Berg Gudmundsson will be missing for the hosts.
Antonio Rudiger remains sidelined for the visitors, while N’Golo Kante is a doubt. Ross Barkley could be available again following his knock against Newcastle. Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains out.
This is going to be a huge test of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. It will show whether they will be able to comfortably establish themselves in the top four, or if inconsistency will plague them like it has for many of their rivals. Few teams will go to Burnley and take the three points, therefore it would be a huge boost if they were to manage it. If they perform like they did in the previous two matches, they should have enough to overcome the hosts.
Burnley 1-2 Chelsea