Chelsea 2 Burnley 3: Five things we learned as nine-man champions fall to embarrassing opening day defeat

Chelsea 2 Burnley 3: Title defence gets off to worst possible start as Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas red cards and a Sam Vokes brace condemns champions

Evan Bartlett
Saturday 12 August 2017 15:54
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Events at Stamford Bridge did not make for pleasant viewing for Antonio Conte
Events at Stamford Bridge did not make for pleasant viewing for Antonio Conte

Chelsea's start to their title defence could not have gone much worse as they slumped to an embarrassing defeat by relegation candidates Burnley on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Gary Cahill, taking over club captaincy duties from John Terry, was dismissed early on at Stamford Bridge after a dangerous lunge on Steven Defour and things just got worse from there.

The Blues looked unhappy and disjointed as Sean Dyche's men - one of the favourites for relegation this season - tore them apart.

Burnley opened the scoring thanks to a scrappy goal from Sam Vokes, which deflected off David Luiz, before doubling their lead through an anything but scrappy volley from left-back Stephen Ward.

Vokes then added to Antonio Conte's misery before half-time with his second and Burnley's third.

While he will have been consoled by the sight of Alvaro Morata getting on the scoresheet on his debut and Luiz's thumping volley late on, Conte has been left with plenty to ponder ahead of their next match against Tottenham.

Here are five things we learned at Stamford Bridge...

Chelsea really do need to strengthen their squad

While Chelsea have spent money this summer and brought in the likes of Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger, they have lost a raft of others.

With Champions League football to contend with this season, the absence of proven goal scorer Diego Costa and injuries to others including star man Eden Hazard, their squad is looking dangerously thin.

At 3-0 down and going into the second-half there was little inspiration for manager Antonio Conte to turn to on the bench. He will need some help from his owner otherwise Chelsea really do risk having another “Mourinho season”.

Conte needs to motivate his side

As unhappy as the Italian clearly is with the club’s transfer dealings over the summer, there was surely no excuse for Chelsea’s performance on Saturday.

The first XI has hardly changed from the side which romped to the title last season and while Burnley performed well, Chelsea really should be expecting to beat teams of their calibre.

Conte cut an unhappy figure on the sideline, as he has done during most of pre-season and at Wembley last weekend. While he is probably hoping that will jolt Roman Abramovich into action, it currently appears to be having more of an effect on his players than his owner.

Cahill and Fabregas let their manager down

Cahill took over the captain’s armband from club stalwart John Terry this summer and instantly let his teammates and his manager down. His roaming run into the opposition half, perhaps an attempt to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, was fine, but his lunging tackle into Defour was clumsy and dangerous and left the referee with no option but to send him off.

Cesc Fabregas, who earned his first yellow card for dissent and a second for another studs up tackle on Jack Cork, really should know better at this stage of his career.

Chelsea now face suspensions ahead of crucial games against Tottenham, Leicester and Everton. It really could not have come at a worse time.

Burnley aren’t the relegation fodder many thought they were

The Clarets only won once on the road last season, relying heavily on their home form, but they looked a new team altogether at Stamford Bridge. Following the losses of Michael Keane and Andre Grey to Premier League rivals, many had Burnley down as one of the favourites for relegation.

But Sean Dyche has proven again that he is a more than capable coach for the Premier League. The biggest threat for Burnley is that a bigger club comes in and poaches him.

Alvaro Morata can cut it in the Premier League

Morata came on as a second-half substitute 

With Diego Costa AWOL and Michy Batshuayi firing blanks, Chelsea are going to rely on new boy Alvaro Morata to score them goals.

The Spaniard arrived at Stamford Bridge with a hefty price tag but it didn’t seem to phase him as he came on as a second half substitute.

He scored Chelsea’s first of the afternoon after an hour, drifting into the box to meet Willian’s perfectly weighted cross and was then narrowly offside when it appeared he had netted a second.

Conte will be hoping he puts in plenty of similar performances this season. Chelsea will need it.

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