Football

Fabregas is Mourinho's main man

BURNLEY 1

(Scott Arfield 14)

CHELSEA 3

(Diego Costa 17, Andre Schuerrle 21, 
Branislav Ivanovic 34)

Jose Mourinho hailed Cesc Fabregas after the midfielder enjoyed a stunning debut in Chelsea's 3-1 win over Burnley yesterday morning (Singapore time).

After spending three years at Barcelona, Fabregas returned to the Premier League this season and he instantly looked at home in Mourinho's side, who looked very much like title contenders.

The Spain midfielder set up Andre Schuerrle with a perfectly weighted pass (see graphic) and he also had a hand in each of Chelsea's other two goals, scored by Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic.

Watching the £27-million ($56.2m) signing dictate a high tempo and put in tackle after tackle, it was hard to think why Arsenal passed up the opportunity to re-sign the 27-year-old Catalan, who was given the Man-of-the-Match award for his efforts.

After the match, Mourinho praised Fabregas for providing him with the creativity and drive that were sometimes missing from the Chelsea midfield last season.

"I think the team played very well, but I agree with Cesc being the Man of the Match. Both (Nemanja) Matic and him controlled the game," the Chelsea manager said.

"Those two dictated the intensity of the game. They are both good brains in this team and I am happy with that because probably last season we couldn't control the game the way we did today.

"In the last 10 years, Cesc and I were in the same league for six or seven years, so I know what he can bring to this team.

"He makes the right decisions, the right intensity of the game and he brings other people in the right direction. I am really happy with him."

TITLE FAVOURITES

Fabregas was one of four summer signings to feature in a new-look Chelsea team now shorn of the likes of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard.

Chelsea will come up against better opposition, but the way they started the season suggests this new and improved Blues team deserve their status as title favourites.

Costa was a constant menace to the Premier League newcomers all night and he got on the scoresheet with a poacher's effort from 12 metres.

Fabregas then cushioned a perfect pass into the path of Schuerrle to cap off a 25-pass move before Ivanovic met the Spaniard's corner to make it 3-1 in the 34th minute.

Mourinho was happy with how his team responded to Scott Arfield's opening strike and he found Chelsea's second goal particularly pleasing.

"Everything was fantastic, the movement and the quality of the pass and the vision and the understanding between them were beautiful," the Portuguese said of Schuerrle's goal.

"Emotionally, we were not affected by the goal we conceded.

"We conceded a goal, but we never lost composure and we deserved these three points against a side who are going to give a fight to the rest of the teams who come here."

Mourinho's only complaint was with the officials for booking Costa for simulation when his trailing leg was actually caught by Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

"It was a penalty, but the linesman decided not to give it," said Mourinho, who also handed Thibaut Courtois his debut and brought summer signing Didier Drogba off the bench in the second half.

"The kid (Costa) presents himself here today with a fantastic, competitive, clean and polite attitude. I hope he doesn't get more unfair decisions."

Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who led the Clarets back into the top flight last term, was not too disheartened by the defeat, which came in front of a noisy capacity crowd at Turf Moor.

"Chelsea have quality in all areas," the former Watford manager said.

"We kept going, which is important. The will and demand are there.

"We have a strong mentality. Ian Holloway said last year we had the strongest jaw in the division.

"We know it is not a sprint, it is a marathon and it is going to be a tough marathon."

Dyche has brought in seven new players this summer, but he feels more additions are needed.

He said: "We need to build a squad. It is not just a starting 11. We are carrying light numbers. We definitely need strength in depth." - PA Sport.


STAR WATCH 

Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)

  • Goals: 0
  • Assists: 3
  • Pass success rate: 87%
  • Touches: 104

"He performed so well, Fabregas. I think he will be a great signing. Chelsea were one of the poorer sides last season in terms of midfielders threading balls through to forward positions and here is a guy who will absolutely bring that to the table."

- Former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley on Cesc Fabregas

MOURINHO WANTS CECH TO STAY

Jose Mourinho hopes Petr Cech will not leave Chelsea, despite his demotion to second-choice goalkeeper.

Cech's days as Chelsea's first-choice stopper appear to be numbered.

The 32-year-old (below), who has been Chelsea's No. 1 for 10 years, had to settle for a place on the bench yesterday morning (Singapore time) as Mourinho opted to field Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the first match of the season against Burnley.

Mourinho confirmed that Courtois would keep his place in the team after an impressive performance in the 3-1 win, which came courtesy of goals from Andre Schuerrle, Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic.

But the Chelsea boss insisted that Cech is capable of winning the jersey back if he stays at the club.

"Yes, I want to keep (him)," Mourinho said.

"The club want to keep him and, hopefully, he stays. Courtois was my first choice today and he played good enough to be my first choice in the next game, but he is not my first choice for the rest of the season.

"When you have a top professional working hard like Petr, if you don't perform, you are in trouble."

Paris St Germain and Monaco are said to be two of the parties interested in Cech's signature.

Mourinho admitted that he has a hard task on his hands keeping Cech happy, but he thinks the goalkeeper will not give up without a fight.

"No player is happy when he is not playing every game," he said.

"But I know Petr for 10 years, I know he will not relax, he will not sit in a chair and say, 'I have no chance'.

"He will be exactly the opposite. I am expecting him to go to the training ground and fight."

When it was put to him that Cech could request to leave, Mourinho said: "He didn't ask and I hope he doesn't ask." - PA Sport.