Chelsea breezed past Burnley to secure Antonio Conte his third successive Premier League win as Chelsea manager.
Chelsea are far from their confident best, but Antonio Conte’s men are slowly getting there and a victory against a visiting Burnley side was a big step in the right direction. Goals from Hazard, Willian and a late Moses strike helped Chelsea maintain their 100% win record this season.
Hazard Is Getting Back To His Best
Chelsea’s superstar is slowly getting back to his best, and the signs are there for all to see. A notoriously slow starter in previous seasons, the Belgian captain didn’t waste any time in getting on the score sheet in his first game and opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge against Burnley as well. It was a superb transition from defence to attack as he ran with the ball up field, cut into his preferred right foot and from 20 yards out, unleashed a low powerful shot past a helpless Tom Heaton.
He was sharp, fast and is building a superb understanding with Diego Costa with each passing game. He exuded confidence and a swagger which was missing for the entirety of last season. And was the focal point of most of Chelsea’s attacks and their chief creative outlet. What often goes unnoticed during these kinds of performances is his fitness. Hazard has never looked so fit so early in the season and that can be credited to Antonio Conte’s multiple high intensity training sessions. With such a bright start to the season, should he stay fit he could go on to better his statistics from the 2014/15 title-winning season.
‘Kante’ Do Without Him
If the first 3 games of the season are anything to go by, the Kante is going to to be one of the first names on Antonio Conte’s team sheet for the rest of the season. The French international was absolutely immense in midfield and ever since coming to Chelsea, he’s been able to display his often underrated passing ability.
The 25-year-old seemed to be almost everywhere and never gave Sean Dyche’s men a chance to look for a pass. His screening of the back four along with Matic almost never allowed the Burnley players to get into Chelsea’s half. His understanding of the game, his ability to sniff out danger, his phenomenal stamina and speed all combine to give the illusion of a 12th player in Chelsea’s midfield. If Kante and Matic continue to screen Chelsea’s midfield in the same manner for a few more years, John Terry might actually be able to prolong his career in the heart of the Chelsea defence.
Tom Heaton Will Have A Huge Impact On Burnley’s Survival
The 30-year-old Chester born shot-stopper had a superb game against the Blues. He made saves from Costa, Hazard, Matic and kept the score line to a respectable 3. With the way Hazard & co. are going about their business, the fact that they managed to keep the score line below 6 or 7 is extremely commendable.
Notably his one handed save at the very end to deny Cesar Azplicueta and Chelsea a goal which would have made it 4. In the 61st minute he kept out Costa who failed to add the finishing touch to yet another superb Chelsea move. Heaton will be absolutely crucial in Burnley’s survival hopes this season and with more performances like that, he’s sure to be Sean Dyche’s most important player this season.
Midfield: Matic’s Mettle or Fabregas’ Magic
Conte has been faced with difficult choice this season of whether to use Fabregas or Matic in midfield alongside N’golo Kante. With Matic on the field, Chelsea have someone who will lie back and screen the back four, break up play and pass it to the attackers. He’s not quite as good as he use to be and he’s no Kante, but so far, he’s done what he’s been asked. But Chelsea severely lack creativity without Fabregas with Eden Hazard taking on the extra pressure of being Chelsea’s main creative outlet.
Matic’s passing is nowhere near the quality of the former Arsenal captain, and can’t provide that very important pass in the final third of the pitch like Fabregas is so famous for. Unrivalled vision and distribution, he made his point for a start when he came on against Watford last week to set up Diego Costa for the winner at the death.
Conte wouldn’t want to fix something that doesn’t seem to be broken and will likely continue using this formation against the bigger teams, but this precautionary approach would likely be due to the unreliability of the Chelsea defence. Chelsea have been desperately searching for a centerback and fullback this season to help strengthen an ageing defence and it may be because of this, that Conte plays Matic over Fabregas. The Spaniard’s mobility, defending and tackling are by far his worst aspects and it’s something that Matic can do. Understandably, extra creativity by sacrificing defensive stability is not something Conte would want to risk with the current state of the Chelsea backline.