Though Jose Mourinho and his players have to be a little more patient than most Premier League teams before getting underway, the season’s start is almost upon us.
Time for club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton to study our trip to Turf Moor….
Welcome back to what will be the 23rd season of the Premier League and how better to celebrate the return than with a few Clarets. Chelsea have figured in all of those campaigns, our hosts Burnley in just the one. That season, 2009/10, they finished 18th of 20.
The Lancastrians’ top-flight glory days prior to that were enjoyed in the mid-Seventies with the likes of Willie Morgan and Colin Waldron, so finishing second in May (behind our next home opponents, Leicester City) was a relatively rapid return.
How do the Premier League novices fare these days? The 2011/12 season was the first for more than a decade in which all promoted sides maintained their upper-class status. Each season since then just one of the three promoted sides has suffered the drop – the one that had finished top of the Championship.
Monday pits the tightest defence in last season’s Premier League against their equivalent in the Championship. Football’s Mills & Boon tendency might demand the adrenalin-driven new arrivals take a scalp or two in the opening skirmishes but such romance often goes unrequited. All three were beaten last season, including Chelsea’s first victims, Hull City (highlights video below).
Burnley, mind you, beat Manchester United 1-0 on their home opener in 2009. Yet Chelsea are no slouches: the Blues have won 11 of the last 12 opening day games and 13 of the last 15. 2011’s goalless draw at Stoke and the 1-1 draw against Newcastle in 2001 were the only occasions we failed to win all three points.
Since the formation of the Premier League Chelsea have managed 14 opening game wins, three defeats and five draws. Our last loss was at Highfield Road in 1998, with Coventry City the 2-1 victors.
This is the Clarets’ 10th opening day fixture at Turf Moor out of the last 13. They have won two and drawn two of the last four (all at home). They last lost on day one at Stoke in 2009 – the last time they were among the elite. Their last home defeat was 11 years ago against Crystal Palace.
Tactically, pre-season was interesting. Not just because of the chance to see new transfers and promising youngsters, but also to see Jose Mourinho switching to a system with three central defenders and wing-backs, notably when Chelsea were trailing late in a game.
All Blues internationals involved in the World Cup were permitted three weeks' holiday following their exit from the tournament, so several are still seeking full fitness. No English team had more players in Brazil than Chelsea and they clocked up almost a third more mileage than those of the next team, Manchester United. Some break.
Stamford Bridge has contributed a strong contingent to FIFA’s summer tournaments over the last two decades. The present crop, including trophy winner Andre Schurrle, will hopefully fare much better than their predecessors, as some of Chelsea’s domestic campaigns following World Cups (2006/07 apart) have been as perplexing as the Brazil 2014 opening ceremony.
However this is Mourinho’s second season since his return, and his second seasons are usually sensational: the league and Champions League double was won at Porto and Inter, Real won the Primera, and Chelsea clinched a back-to-back title.
There are, of course, big personnel changes to absorb. As well as bidding fond farewells to our great history-makers Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard plus David Luiz among others, we welcome potential future greats in striker Diego Costa, midfielder Cesc Fabregas, left-back Filipe Luis, as well as returning loanees such as defender Kurt Zouma and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. How fantastic, too, to see 2012 Champions League hero Didier Drogba returning home.
Another addition to Mourinho’s team is Carlos Lalin, a specialist in physical therapy and recovery.
Supporters may be fascinated to know there are also a few new rules for this season’s Barclays Premier League campaign. The law forbidding the display of personal, political or marketing messages on players’ undergarments has been tightened up, and the vanishing spray used at Brazil 2014 to prevent encroachment at free-kicks has now been adopted in England.
It is hoped the spray will make refereeing easier, speed up play and reduce yellow cards for defending players as well as reminding some spectators to buy shaving foam on the way home.
In the case of head injuries, medical and not coaching staff are to have the final say on whether the player should return to action. Other new policies require an extra medic, the tunnel doctor, to monitor from the side of the field, and all staff to have access to a ‘Concussion Recognition Tool’, (which sounds ominously like the Orwellian name for a truncheon but is an instrument assuring footballers’ well-being).
With the Champions League group stage draw around the corner, UEFA have announced that from of this season all yellow cards accrued from the beginning of the group stage will expire on completion of the quarter-finals and not be carried forward to the semi-finals.
The other 18 sides will have plied their trade long before this game kicks off. Try not to take notice of rival fans retweeting the league table.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Manchester United v Swansea 12.45pm - BT Sport
Leicester v Everton 3pm
QPR v Hull 3pm
Stoke v Aston Villa 3pm
West Brom v Sunderland 3pm
West Ham v Tottenham 3pm
Arsenal v Crystal Palace 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Liverpool v Southampton 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Newcastle v Manchester City 4pm - Sky Sports
Burnley v Chelsea 8pm - Sky Sports
Chelsea have won our last three Barclays Premier League games on the road - at Cardiff, Liverpool and Swansea. Our last away defeat was at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace in March.
We gained 17 points from losing positions last term which was the best by any Premier League club.
Last season the Blues had the best defence in the Premier League conceding 27 goals (10 fewer than champions Man City) with 18 clean sheets.
Chelsea have lost just four in the last 79 games against newly promoted teams in 13-and-a-half years. We have won 62 of those matches.
Last season’s Premier League stats
Most starts: Branislav Ivanovic 36, Petr Cech 34, John Terry 34, Eden Hazard 32
Most goals: Hazard 14 (4 pens), Eto’o 9, Oscar 8, Schurrle 8,
Pre-season scorers (20)
Diego Costa 4, Terry 3, Brown 2, Fabregas 2, Salah 2, Ivanovic 2, Bamford 1, Boga 1, Matic 1, Ramires 1, Zouma 1
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 6
An away defeat: 3
2 League championships, last in 1960
1 FA Cup in 1914
2 FA Charity Shields (one shared), last in 1973
Championship - Runners-up
FA Cup - Third round
Capital One Cup - Fourth Round
Burnley had the best defence in the Championship last term, conceding only 37 goals in 46 matches, six fewer than champions Leicester.
Last season Sean Dyche’s side didn’t lose any of the 28 games they opened the scoring.
The Clarets didn’t lose any games once they took the lead.
Last season’s Championship stats
Most starts: Tom Heaton 46, David Jones 46, Jason Shackell 46, Scott Arfield 42.
Most goals: Danny Ings 21, Sam Vokes 20, Scott Arfield 8
Manager: Sean Dyche
Days in charge: 655
Pre-season scorers: (16)
Jutkiewicz 6, Sordell 3, Barnes 2, Gilchrist 2, Arfield 1, Taylor 1, Wallace 1.
For their final pre-season friendly against Hellas Verona last weekend, Burnley lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation: Heaton; Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee; Taylor (Kightly 77), Marney, Jones, Arfield (Wallace 69); Ings; Jutkiewicz (Sordell 63).
The Clarets came from behind to win 3-1 in front of a 4,411 crowd with second-half goals from Matt Taylor, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Ross Wallace.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 9
A home defeat: 2
Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona, undisclosed), Mario Pasalic (Hajduk Split, undisclosed), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray, free).
David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain, undisclosed), Frank Lampard (released, now Man City/New York City), Ashley Cole (released, now Roma), Demba Ba (Beşiktaş, undisclosed), Samuel Eto’o (released), Hilario (released), Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland, undisclosed), Sam Hutchinson (released), Adam Nditi (released), Danny Pappoe (released), Milan Lalkovic (released), Ambrose Gnahore (released), Chike Kandi (released), Jhon Pirez (released), Cristian Cuevas (Universidad de Chile, loan), Tomas Kalas (Cologne, loan), Wallace (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Mönchengladbach, loan), Bertrand Traoré (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Mario Pašalić (Elche, loan), Lucas Piazon (Eintract Frankfurt, loan), Jhoao Rodriguez (Bastia, loan)
Michael Kightly (Stoke, undisclosed), Matt Gilks (unattached), Marvin Sordell (Bolton, undisclosed), Matt Taylor (West Ham, free), Steven Reid (West Brom, free), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough, undisclosed)
David Edgar (released), Brian Stock (released), Keith Treacy (released), Nick Liversedge (released), Junior Stanislas (released), Chris Baird (West Brom, free)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The referee is Michael Oliver. Chelsea have won seven of the nine games he has officiated, including the final match of last season at Cardiff.
Ramires is suspended the fourth of four matches, carried over from last season.
Please visit again on Monday for Part Two of the Briefing