The current Premier League champions Chelsea begin their title defence with a home game against Burnley on Saturday, giving them the chance to ease their way into the season. If you asked Chelsea they would have accepted any home game against lower opposition to start the season and that is exactly what they have got.
Burnley managed to stay in the Premier League last season thanks to their fantastic home record, although away from home they often left a lot to be desired. That need to improve this season, otherwise I can see them being in trouble from an early stage.
Chelsea have taken it easy during pre-season compared to the majority of their rivals, playing just three pre-season games and the Community Shield. They have only won one of those games, their first which was a 3-0 victory over Arsenal. Since then, they have tasted defeat against Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and most recently in the Community Shield against Arsenal. Whether or not their short preparation works out for them remains to be seen, but I am sure they would have liked another game or two to get another win under their belts.
After winning the league by seven points last season, Chelsea have tried to keep things simple during the summer, making minimal moves. After a falling out, Diego Costa looks extremely likely to leave the club, with his replacement Alvaro Morata already with Chelsea. That looks to be the only big change they will make, something that will help them in the early part of the season, they won’t have players needing time to get and adapt to the Premier League.
Burnley finished six points ahead of the relegation places last season to stay in the Premier League. They haven’t made too many changes, which worries me as I can’t see them having the same home record as they did last season. They were fantastic at home last season, picking up a lot of points and without that they would surely have been relegated. If they don’t have that this season then they could be in trouble. Like Chelsea, they have only made minimal changes, although the loss of Michael Keane from their defence will be a blow and they are yet to really replace him.
Burnley won their first four pre-season games, before rounding off with two draws and an abandoned game. That looks good, although their opposition wasn’t the toughest and they are in for a much tougher test when they visit Chelsea on Saturday.
This is a game that Chelsea should win and win comfortably, meaning it is the perfect chance for Alvaro Morata to get on the scoresheet and show Chelsea fans that he can be the same force as Diego Costa. He will surely get chances against this Burnley team and it is up to him to put them in the back of the net. After a summer operation, Edin Hazard will probably miss this game, his creativity will be a loss but Chelsea have the squad to cope with injuries in different areas.
Burnley will be looking for a performance from their new midfielder Jack Cork, who arrives at the club from Swansea. He knows what it takes in the Premier League and he has all the battling qualities than Burnley are going to need if they are to survive. In attack Jonathan Walters joins from Stoke and he will be expected to run tirelessly in the game, presuming Burnley don’t see much of the ball during this contest.
Top Betting Tips
This game looks the ideal starting point for the current champions. Chelsea should win comfortably and ease their way into their title defence in convincing fashion. There is little value backing Chelsea to win this game on their own, so I am going to back a correct score of 3-0 to Chelsea, which is 13/2 with Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power.
Chelsea should have enough in the tank to ease to victory in this one, although they will also want to put on an impressive display as defending champions. This is why I am selecting 3-0, I don’t think Chelsea will ease off after taking the lead in the second half, I think they will keep plugging away and looking for more goals. Assuming Alvaro Morata plays in the game, Chelsea would love to see him open his account in this one in front of his new fans.