A red card (make that two), an aggrieved Italian on the touchlines and a downright hammering; everything that could go wrong did go wrong when Chelsea launched their title defense on the receiving end of a beat down against Burnley.
Not exactly the kind of team you would expect to frustrate Antonio Conte’s charges, but a red card in the early stages to newly installed captain Gary Cahill marked the beginning of a putrid afternoon for the reigning Premier League champions.
Astute and resolute in their cause, Burnley made the most of their numbers gain by finding the back of the net thrice before the stroke of half-time. Although Chelsea recovered two goals, it was nothing more than a consolation as the Clarets held on for the historic 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge.
One may be forgiven to think the red cards justified the score line when in essence the Blues are on a downward spiral.
A better organized Chelsea side emerged after the interval to marshal a comeback, but a Cesc Fabregas sending off in the 81st minute lay to waste Alvaro Morata’s goal just ten minutes earlier.
A debut goal by Morata is true testament that the Spaniard won’t have any jitters adapting to the Premier League. That however cannot eclipse the fact that Chelsea have had a horrid summer.
While the decision to release John Terry was well founded, letting go of defenders Nathan Ake and Kurt Zouma was untimely and ill-advised; one that Conte regretted immediately after the sending off of his skipper.
There was no Nemanja Matic to shield the defense and the fact that his successor, Tiemoue Bakayoko, wasn’t ready enough for the bench further compounds how disappointing Chelsea have been in the summer transfer window.
At some point in the game you couldn’t help but think Chelsea could use the belligerence of Diego Costa to frustrate the opposition. The 28-year old has had a fall out with Conte, one that began with being informed his services were no longer needed- via text message.
Despite the transfer embargo to Atletico Madrid, a return to the Spanish capital is on the cards for the striker who is still on holiday in Brazil, evidently in protest against Antonio Conte’s treatment.
Signing Morata is one thing, but missing out on Romelu Lukaku and further letting go of their leading goal scorer is by definition a massive let down and as such, a step in the wrong direction.
The continued absence of the attacking duo of Pedro and Eden Hazard, sidelined against Burnley due to injury, may heavily dent Chelsea’s title defense- more so in the opening month of the season.
Hazard took part in training over the course of the week, but it is unlikely the gaffer will heist his return in the upcoming encounter against Tottenham.
With tabloid talks already on who will replace Conte at the Bridge, the worst is seemingly yet to come for the Blues.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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