Ruthless Chelsea look the real deal
(Scott Arfield 14)
(Diego Costa 17, Andre Schuerrle 21, Branislav Ivanovic 34)
This year, Chelsea are not messing around. There will be no talk of transitional seasons or "little horses".
They mean business and, after their ruthlessly efficient 3-1 victory over newly promoted Burnley yesterday morning (Singapore time), the rest of the Premier League should take note.
This was a nervous opening weekend for the big teams. Manchester United were humiliated at home by Swansea.
Arsenal and Liverpool were given A fright by Crystal Palace and Southampton.
Even Manchester City had to wait until the final moments of their visit to Newcastle before they felt comfortable.
Chelsea had their own issues, going a goal down when Scott Arfield smashed home from the edge of the box and sent the Turf Moor crowd into convulsions of delirium.
But, far from being rattled, the Blues didn't even blink.
While other teams have looked to improve their squad or to build from the future, Jose Mourinho has picked his fruit from the top of the tree.
Diego Costa was the hottest property in Spanish football and he was able to ease any pressure he may have felt by slipping home the equaliser when the ball fell to him in front of goal.
A booking for a perceived dive was hotly disputed by Mourinho after the match, with the Chelsea boss insisting that Costa has been instructed on what English referees like and dislike, but it will not take the shine off a satisfying night's work.
Cesc Fabregas, a veteran of the Premier League with Arsenal and fresh from a spell with Barcelona, is as safe a signing as any club could make and how it showed.
Alongside the industrious, if a little careless Nemanja Matic, the Spaniard dominated the game.
The trademark dinked pass so beloved of Gunners' fans is now in the hands of Chelsea and it was used to great effect for the second goal.
Andre Schuerrle's strike capped off a maelstrom of pinpoint passing and exhilarating running that would have carved open any team and, had it been scored by Barcelona, it would already be classed as one of the greatest goals of the year.
The third goal was less beautiful, a powerful header from Branislav Ivanoic, but no less crucial.
Just 20 minutes after Burnley had taken the lead, Chelsea were 3-1 up and the game was over.
Mourinho carefully shut down the second half. One game down, 37 to go.
Burnley did their best and, in spells, played brave, ambitious football.
One short burst of high-speed passing in the first half brought the partisan crowd to their feet.
But they were crushed in the second half and never looked like troubling Thibaut Courtois as he made his first-team debut for the Blues.
Manager Sean Dyche performed miracles in taking them into the Premier League in the first place.
The fact that his team, assembled at the cost of £5 million ($10.4m), was on the same pitch as Chelsea (approximately £190m), should be considered enough of a win on its own.
If they keep their heads up and continue to take the fight to their opponents, they may yet have a chance of staying up.
For Chelsea, hopes are so much higher.
Mourinho did not enjoy playing a supporting role last season. He didn't like being left behind by City, he didn't appreciate the plaudits that went to Liverpool and the fact that Arsene Wenger won a trophy and he did not would have stung.
He has had a year in charge of this team, he has shipped out many of the players he does not rate and he has replaced them with those that he does.
He has even brought back trusted lieutenant Didier Drogba as an example of what players can achieve personally and as part of a team if they follow his instructions.
Mourinho is back, Chelsea are back and the rest of the Premier League should be very afraid.
Terry talks up title tilt
Chelsea captain John Terry has set his sights on winning the Premier League after his side's 3-1 victory in their season opener at Burnley yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Jose Mourinho's team recovered from Scott Arfield's 14th-minute goal to sink the newly promoted Clarets and send a warning to their title rivals.
Spain striker Diego Costa marked his debut with the equaliser and Andre Schuerrle finished off a sublime 25-pass move to put the visitors ahead before Branislav Ivanovic made it three inside the first half.
"We've made some very big signings," Terry told Sky Sports.
"Diego has come in and he was great tonight. He got on the scoresheet which is a great start for him.
"We're hoping to win the league. That's our target this year.
"This league is going to be really tough and we've seen some quality at the weekend from many teams. But, importantly, we picked up three points and we'll move on to the next."
With Chelsea top of the table after the opening round of fixtures, the 33-year-old Terry also saluted former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who joined the Blues from Barcelona in pre-season and made a sparkling debut.
"Some of the movement and play for the goals was different class and Cesc's pass was probably pick of the bunch for Schuerrle," Terry added. "It was a tough game tonight but we saw it out in the second half."
Meanwhile, former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler appeared to have hit back at Chelsea supporters mocking Steven Gerrard's famous slip last season by reminding them of a similar incident involving Terry.
During the Blues' 3-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor yesterday morning, a number of Chelsea fans chanted about Gerrard's slip.
The former England international failed to find his footing against Chelsea at Anfield last season, which allowed Demba Ba to find the back of the net and contribute to a defeat which hampered the Reds' title chances.
According to numerous reports, Fowler responded to the mocking chants by tweeting a picture of Terry slipping while taking a penalty in the 2008 Champions League against Manchester United.
He added the message: "Chelsea fans singing about liverpools stevie g again... You'd think he's the only player thats ever slipped."
The 39-year-old later deleted the tweet.
- Wire Services.
Some of the movement and play for the goals was different class and Cesc’s pass was probably pick of the bunch for Schuerrle.
— John Terry on Cesc Fabregas’ pass to Andre Schuerrle for Chelsea’s (above) second goal