The others: Sp*rs face the Scouse in the early Saturday kick off. Hopefully a punch up, some crushed metatarsals and general carnage to entertain the rest of us, ending in a draw if it’s not too much to ask. Would be all the better if Vertonghen gets a fingernail in the eye. He ruins my 100% record of liking Belgians.
I’m instituting “Pogbawatch” in an attempt to pinpoint when he actually proves he’s worth £100m. I’ll gauge each week what he does and see if he breaks that figure by the end of the season. Going into this weekend he’s up to £5m for not being awful so far, but on occasion struggling to control a football. He’s got a long way to go. United travel to Hull for the 17:30 kick off on Saturday. If they have any self respect they will leave Fellaini and his ginger afro at home.
Elsewhere at 15:00 on Saturday, Palace need to beat Bournemouth after a poor start that has people (i.e. press knobs) talking about Pardew’s job already, Everton host Stoke, Leicester, you would think, can hope for their first win at home to Swansea and Wenger avoids the mood at the Emirates to take his tired looking setup to Watford. Super Sunday sees Boro (again), away (again) to West Brom followed by City at home to a West Ham outfit that already look knackered. Cue more homemade Joe Hart banners. At least try and colour inside the lines people, otherwise you look doubly foolish on TV.
Chelsea Vs, Burnley, Saturday 27th August, Stamford Bridge, KO 15:00
The internet has been awash with pictures of Willian flapping about in a swimming pool this week. I am sure the inventor of the worldwide web had far more noble aims in mind than this and people posting pictures of their dinner. Anyway, he is a doubt, though he is back in training. Other than that, we’re all good. Our new GK Eduardo slots in as third choice behind Courtois and Begovic. Still no sign of Zouma. Get well soon you beautiful monster.
Thus I reckon very similar team as last week. Usual back four. Kante, hopefully Fabregas over Matic. Don’t see the point in risking Willian when you can have him properly recovered and ready to go after the usual soul-destroying early international break. (Chinese water torture for football fans) Scrappy-Doo (with fangs) to return up front after midweek. Got to give the tabloids something to fill at that dead space, after all. Oscar, Hazard and I’d give Moses a shout over Pedro after the cup game.
Antonio Conte Assessment: Given our history with managers I intend to keep a close eye on this one. Using all of my FBI profiling skills (meticulously absorbed watching 12 seasons of Criminal Minds) he appears to be failry relaxed (well as relaxed as a mad workaholic gets) and sane at the moment. On the Mourinho Scale (a careful and scientific calculation based on the premise that the more dishevelled and tramp-like a manager gets, the more he is about to strike the male menopause and have a total meltdown) I have him at a Defcon 1 at the moment. (Those not familiar with such speak, that is normal and it goes up to 5 when the Russians are coming).
Fun fact about Burnley: (I am an historian, you are going to have to put up with a certain amount of useless information each week) Their mascot, Bertie the Bee, once rugby tackled a streaker. Hilarious. They are one of the oldest teams in the country, formed back when Chelsea FC was but a twinkle in Gus Mears’s eye. They adopted a claret and blue kit in 1910 because they admired Villa, and before that had gone through about as many different colour clashes as you might find lurking in Elton John’s wardrobe. We haven’t lost to them in the league since 1973, but they did put us out of the League Cup on penalties back in 2008. From memory they had a large keeper and he got a whole buffet menu sung at him by the MHL. (I doubt you’ll ever hear ‘vol-au-vents’ sung with such rapture again at the Bridge.)
Conte isn’t taking them lightly and nor should we, though I wonder how much of a gauge bashing the Scouse (hoorah, Burnley, by the way) is as they are so up and down. They were also helped by getting an early goal. Dyche’s team are usually pretty determined so it certainly wont be a pushover. (Hell, we couldn’t even push over League 1 on Tuesday) He says he hopes as underdogs his team can play with bit of freedom. He's going to rest Jon Flanagan after his exertions in the cup. In their other fixture so far they lost at home to Swansea City and in the early table they sit 8th.
I’m not predicting scores, (on the same principle that prevents anyone with a brain tempting fate by putting Chelsea on their accumulator) but it might take a while to break Burnley down, and matters won’t be helped if we continue to concede 50% of the shots on target fashioned against us. They only had 19% of the ball against the red plague, so expect us to have it a lot, but I doubt this will bother them and they will try and hit us on the counter. Typing about vol-au-vents has made me hungry. I’m off to lunch.
The ref, by the way, will be Mark Clattenburg sporting his tacky new tattoos to go with his hairplugs. Last chance to get the August fanzine, drop by and see me before the game!
Up the Chels.