An Outstanding Start (by Gary Watton)
AN OUTSTANDING START
Okay so Burnley are not world beaters, but that was a highly satisfactory result and a hugely impressive performance. After all, this was just the type of banana skin that proved to be Chelsea’s undoing last season. Even allowing for the handicap of an early goal, the Blues responded well with an eye-catching first-half display of sexy football.
There was nothing but positives from the opening skirmish. Diego Costa emulated Chelsea legends such as Dixon, Greaves, Hasselbaink, and Osgood by scoring on his debut in a competitive fixture. His finish with his left foot was a cool one. Branislav Ivanovic poached our third from a corner kick, which confirms a couple of strengths. The first is our potency from set pieces. The second is that Chelsea possess probably the most lethal defence in Europe, in terms of their goal scoring threat and proven track record of finding the back of the net. Then, sandwiched in between our equaliser and match-clinching third was a goal from Schurrle of supreme quality. The elusive Hazard (reinvented after his World Cup no-show) went on a typically mazy run. Then the ball was switched back from the right to the clever Fabregas whose perfectly weighted through ball to the advancing Schurrle was out of the top drawer. The German World Cup hero finished with the class that we have all become accustomed to.
Elsewhere, debutant Thibaut Courtois was composure personified while the towering Matic gave a commanding performance alongside the probing Fabregas and behind the busy Oscar. Perhaps if there was one criticism of the guys, especially in the second half, there was a tendency to over-elaborate and string together ten passes when half that number was needed, before launching an effort at goal. However, after the interval Chelsea slipped effortlessly into possession football which consolidated their grip on the occasion. Finally, the icing on the cake was a welcome cameo from the ever-willing Didier Drogba.
The visit to Turf Moor against the admirable Burnley represented a good day at the office, but as Chelsea are accustomed to starting most seasons really well, the challenge is to prolong the fine football in November and beyond when the distraction of the Champions League and one or two cup runs could undermine the club’s Premiership aspirations.
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