Chelsea lose the plot, lose two men, lose to Burnley as Premier League makes frenetic return: Premier League; The Weekend That Was
Cesc Fabregas walked off in frustration, trudging down the tunnel after receiving his second yellow card, and subsequently his marching orders from referee Craig Pawson with nine minutes left, reducing Chelsea to nine men, and summing up their afternoon at the Bridge.
The champions had seen their skipper Gary Cahill receive an early bath barely 15 minutes in for a late lunge, as the skipper followed the footsteps of Pedro, who got sent off the previous week in the Community Shield.
In fact, considering last season’s FA Cup as well, Chelsea have had at least one player sent in each of their last three games (although technically the Community Shield was considered a friendly), leading manager Antonio Conte to say they might have to start training on how to play with nine and 10 men. The Italian handed a debut to young Jeremie Boga, highlighting his need for new additions to the team, but will have watched in utter dissatisfaction when Cahill overran the ball and lunged into Steven Defour with just a quarter of an hour played, reducing the team to ten men early on, and in a tactical reshuffle, he took off Boga and brought on Andreas Christensen after 17 minutes. Burnley, who have never won a Premier League game at Chelsea and won just once away from home last season, grew in confidence and belief, and 10 minutes after the red card, Sam Vokes prodded the Clarets in front, a goal Thibaut Courtois won’t be keen to see again.
But for a goal worth repeating endlessly, Stephen Ward provided it on 39 minutes, the Burnley defender thumping home a volley just inside the box to send both sets of fans into different kinds of shock. Then four minutes later Burnley’s elation graduated to delirium while Chelsea supporters just watched in horror, as Vokes headed home his second, with the Chelsea defence in smithereens. The only positive from the first half for the Blues was that they couldn’t play any worse in the second period, and that proved true, particularly with the introduction of Alvaro Morata.
The Spaniard pulled one back for the hosts with just over 20 minutes left, heading home Willian’s cross for his first goal for the club, and only the lineman’s flag denied him a second. Then Morata supplied David Luiz who reduced the deficit even further in the last minute of normal time, either side of Fabregas having his unsavoury moment and Robbie Brady hitting the post for Burnley.
For Sean Dyche’s men, they’ve amassed almost half of the points they won on the road all last season, and continued their record of beating the defending champions in every Premier League season they’ve played.
Chelsea however, have more problems, particularly in the area of squad depth, as the Blues will be without Cahill and Fabregas, alongside a few others, for the trip to Wembley to play Spurs next weekend. That’s not worrying at all.
Lukin’ good already
Romelu Lukaku has now scored three goals in two games for Manchester United, his double against West Ham sending them top. It’s still just one game played so far and manager Jose Mourinho has said the performance wasn’t perfect, but, as even he noted, United fans have every reason to be optimistic if yesterday’s performance sets the standards. An all-round wonderful display from the players, not least in the shape of another new boy Nemanja Matic- whose seamlessness his former side Chelsea could have used in the weekend- and Paul Pogba, who also found the net for the hosts as the game drew to a close. The thrust United put into attack on Sunday went a long way to removing some limelight on how abysmal West Ham were. Bar a couple of crosses, the Hammers never really looked like troubling United’s goal, and the 4-0 scoreline did quite flatter them. It’s not like Bilic has previously been under pressure or anything.
Rollercoaster at the Emirates.
Early elation, despair midway through, and an impressive end to it all, Arsenal did their best to cram their entire season into a 90-minute reel on the opening night of the season. It took 94 seconds for summer signing Alexandre Lacazette to announce himself to the home fans, his well-placed header giving the Gunners the perfect start. It took just five minutes for opponents Leicester to hit back, however, Arsenal goalie Petr Cech taking an ill-advised trip to No Man’s Land, leading to Shinji Okazaki to head home the equaliser. With half an hour gone, a sense of familiar capitulation hit the Gunners, as they were guilty of overplaying at the back; and Marc Albrighton supplied Jamie Vardy who put the visitors in front with emphatic aplomb. Arsenal would find a leveller on the cusp of half time, with Sead Kolasinac playing Danny Welbeck who would have done well to miss such a gilt-edged opportunity. Vardy headed the Foxes back in front early in the second period; an advantage they held till the final 10 minutes, when substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud both scored in the space of two minutes to turn impending defeat into much-welcome victory.
- In keeping with the weekend trend of ignoring any principle that so much as whispered decent defending, Liverpool and Watford equally shared six goals at Vicarage Road. The Reds’ front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah all found net, although they conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to Miguel Angel Britos after Stefano Okaka and Abdoulaye Doucoure had twice put the hosts in front. Attacking brilliance but unable to finish off the opposition, then concede from a set-piece; we missed you Liverpool.
- Until Manchester United’s devastation act against West Ham, Huddersfield were on course to finish the weekend in top spot, demolishing Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Terriers debutant Steve Mounie scored twice for David Wagner’s men, while Palace and Frank de Boer still have a fair bit to do to get up to speed.
- Everybody likes a fairy-tale; and nowhere was there a bigger feel of romance this weekend than at Goodison Park. On his second debut after returning from Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney headed home Everton’s only goal in their win over Stoke City. The other new signings were in display at blue half of Merseyside, but it was the old new boy who stole the spotlight, much to the delight of everyone that’s not Mark Hughes.
- Early in the second half of Newcastle v Tottenham, the game uneventful to put it nicely, Toon skipper Jonjo Shelvey shows he’s a man who feels for the fans and media watching on, and decided to make things a little interesting, stamping Spurs midfielder Dele Alli with the referee three feet away. Things went upwards from them on, if you’re not a Newcastle fan that is, Dele Alli putting the visitors in front before Ben Davies completed the scoring. Harry Kane hit the post and was also denied by the linesman’s flag, which means he still hasn’t scored a Premier League goal in August, much to the ire of more than a few Fantasy Football managers.
- And in the ‘we-don’t-wanna-sell-our-best-player derby’, Southampton and Swansea were the only teams to play a goalless draw on the opening weekend (selfish). Swansea’s lack of creativity showed, while there’s still work to be done for Southampton and new boss Mauricio Pochet… oh, Pellegrino. That’ll take some getting used to.
Chelsea 2-3 Burnley
Arsenal 4-0 Leicester
Brighton 0-2 Man City
Watford 3-3 Liverpool
Man Utd 4-0 West Ham
Crystal Palace 0-3 Huddersfield
West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth
Southampton 0-0 Swansea
Newcastle 0-2 Spurs
Everton 1-0 Stoke