The only way Carlo Ancelotti is going to banish the ghost of Jose Mourinho is by matching the Special One's achievements, one by one. So far so good, then, as Chelsea recorded their fourth straight Premier League victory since Ancelotti took charge, matching the golden start made by Mourinho in the summer of 2004.
Chelsea went on that season to win the title with something to spare, and so far this campaign are fully justifying their pre-season billing as favourites for the title. Few teams pass the ball as sweetly as Chelsea. The ball zipped between the feet of Frank Lampard, Deco, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba as the home side worked the angles to probe the Burnley defence.
Their football was crisp and incisive, and but for the hulking form of Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen, they could have scored double figures.
Ancelotti's Chelsea are still very much a work in progress, but they are improving from one game to the next, and the signs are ominous. Drogba's understanding with strike partner Nicolas Anelka is becoming more instinctive; the midfield formation is bedding in well; players like Ballack, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho have a fresh spring in their step.
Ancelotti remained cautiously optimistic. "We have the possibility of the title," he said. "We have started very well but we know that the season is very long. It will be difficult for sure but we have the possibility to step up when we need to. I propose an idea to the players and they develop it. But we can still improve."
Last November Burnley's Carling Cup victory at Chelsea on penalties gave the club the belief that they could live with the very best teams in the country. Yesterday's return here however conveyed a very different message, that despite their shock victory over Manchester United, Burnley still have an uphill struggle to stay in the Premier League.
They held their own against Chelsea for the first half-hour, but when the opportunity came their way to pinch the first goal, they could not capitalise. Frank Lampard, of all people, gave away possession to Tyrone Mears who centred for Martin Paterson unmarked on the edge of the penalty area. Sadly for Owen Coyle's battling side, he pulled his shot wide.
Jensen tried to keep his team in the game single-handedly with countless brilliant saves to deny Chelsea's superstars. His parry to repel Michael Essien's long-range shot, followed by a reaction stop to keep out a header from Ballack, were the pick of the bunch. Jensen is 34 but has yet to win international recognition with Denmark, which can only mean they have some very good goalkeepers indeed.
Chelsea however continued to put their opponents under pressure. The excellent Essien engineered the breakthrough, releasing Drogba down the channel who centred for Anelka to score in first-half stoppage time. There was a hint of offside about the goal, but Chelsea deserved to be ahead.
Two minutes after the break, Ballack scored with a stooping header from Lampard's cross, and Ashley Cole managed his first goal at Stamford Bridge with a flashing half-volley, after a one-two with Lampard.
Anelka hit the bar from close range, and Mears cleared off the line to deny Kalou as Chelsea, who will not be able to call on Andrei Shevchenko this season after his move to Dynamo Kiev yesterday on a two-year deal, sought to boost their goal difference.
Burnley manager Owen Coyle recognised that his team had been brought back down to earth after their surprising victories over Manchester United and Arsenal.
Coyle said: "We are disappointed to lose 3-0 and that shows how far we have come in a very short space of time. They taught us a lesson at times, the way Chelsea passed and moved. But we will take our medicine and pick ourselves up again."
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the match: Jensen
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content