Chelsea begin their Premier League campaign against newly-promoted Burnley tonight and it appears attack could be the best form of defence for last season’s Championshipship runners-up.
Boss Jose Mourinho will have pinpointed the Clarets’ threats and Chelsea, who are expected to start with Thibaut Courtois in goal, head to Turf Moor to take on a team with no less than seven new summer signings in their ranks as manager Sean Dyche has been busy this summer.
Sam Vokes could have caused problems had he not ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament back in March, however it really is his strike partner Danny Ings who makes Burnley tick up front.
The 22-year-old banged in 26 goals to fire Dyche’s men to promotion and has been tracked by the likes of Newcastle and Southampton this summer, as well as attracting interest from abroad in the form of Wolfsburg.
Ings though is determined to prove himself in the English top-flight having worked so hard to earn his place in the Premier League last term, insisting recently that his head had not been turned by other clubs and he was ready for the Chelsea opener.
"As far as I am concerned, Burnley Football Club and the Premier League is where I am, 100 per cent,” he said.
"Everybody knows I enjoy playing for Burnley Football Club. It's a fantastic family club and I am not looking to leave."
With Vokes confined to the treatment table for the big kick-off, Burnley have strengthened their forward line with the capture of Middlesbrough striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, another Claret Mourinho will have briefed his players on.
Jutkiewicz has been in good form in pre-season and is particularly dangerous in the air. The 25-year-old impressed at Bolton on loan towards the end of the 2013-14 campaign and hit seven goals in 20 matches for the Trotters.
In John Terry and Gary Cahill, Chelsea possess the defensive steel to deal with Jutkiewicz. Cahill though has had a tiring summer at the World Cup and will need to shake off any early ring rust before tonight’s opener.
Boss Dyche said earlier this summer: “We’re looking forward to getting him into the group and making him feel welcome here. I still think there is development in Lukas. He’s 25 and has been around a little bit now and he finished last season very strongly.”
Mourinho likes his teams to play in a powerful style and this season will be no different. Burnley will need players who can compete with the Blues’ athleticism in Lancashire and new-boy Steven Reid could prove a handful at both ends of the field.
Reid joined the Clarets on a free transfer from West Brom in the summer and adds much-needed Premier League experience, as well as a cannon of a right-foot, to the Turf Moor side.
His goal for Blackburn against Wigan in May 2005 remains one of the most blistering strikes in the history of the league, clocked at a staggering 98mph, and Chelsea must not allow the utility man space on the edge of the penalty area this evening.
Reid also recognises the need to match Mourinho’s power-play and has been highlighting his team’s fitness work over the summer.
He added: “There’s no doubt we’re going to be one of the fittest teams in the league, that’s for sure, and that can go a long way to getting results in the Premier League."