Eden Hazard was at the centre of things when Burnley came to town early in 2016/17, as club historian Rick Glanvill recalls here...
Back in August 2016 this fixture signalled what quickly appeared to be a false dawn for Antonio Conte’s new regime. Freshly-promoted Burnley were only the second league visitors to Stamford Bridge that season and they were brimming with confidence after shocking Liverpool 2-0 at Turf Moor, despite just 25 per cent possession of the ball.
Their coach Sean Dyche had already scouted Conte’s version of the Blues. ‘I think that the manager will make a difference and the way they play will be slightly different,’ he predicted. ‘However I don’t think it will be a drastic change.’
There were personnel tweaks too at the Bridge, of course. A few weeks earlier N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi had made their bow for the Blues, while Cesc Fabregas’s magic hat seemed out of favour and Willian had been troubled with a calf injury.
Instead Chelsea’s creative inspiration against the Lancastrian visitors came from a revitalised Eden Hazard. The Belgian opened the scoring inside 10 minutes, tearing towards the Burnley rearguard then steering a shot into the corner, and he was the dominant figure throughout.
The returning Willian made it two at the break with an accurate low drive from the right of the box, and at the death Victor Moses swept in his first league goal for the Blues for four years. The convincing 3-0 win maintained a 100 per cent start to the Blues’ campaign.
‘Starting the season with three league wins and a win in the cup is good, for the confidence of the players, the fans, for the club, for me,’ Conte said afterwards. ‘When we start in this way, you can work better.’
Famously, though, the head coach’s initial tactical set-up came a cropper in the next two matches against Swansea and Liverpool. It was midway through defeat at Arsenal in September that he radically changed tack to three at the back, and the resurgent Blues went on to claim the title with relentless efficiency.
Intriguingly, Chelsea had also claimed English football’s top prize in both of the Clarets’ previous seasons in the Premier League, 2009/10 and 2014/15.