Friday, 28 August 2009

Chelsea v Burnley match preview

Burnley go into their testing double header of away days on the back of a wholly unexpected trio of wins.

Victory at Hartlepool in the Carling Cup was to be expected, but the preceding home league wins over Manchester United and Everton came as a very pleasant surprise to the Claret faithful.

Stamford Bridge will be a different proposition of course. But Burnley have good memories of the ground having triumphed over the Blues on penalties in a cup tie there last season.

The Clarets are still without Michael Duff and skipper Steven Caldwell at the back, but Andre Bikey and Clarke Carlisle have looked to be putting together a solid partnership in their place at the heart of the Burnley defence. Richard Eckersley's sending off in midweek means he is unavailable but he was unlikely to be in Coyle's 18 anyway.

Coyle rested most of his first team at Victoria Park and none of his squad men played well enough to force their way into his reckoning, so it would be no surprise to see him select the same eleven that beat United and Everton last week.

Steven Fletcher's two goals at Hartlepool could persuade Coyle to start him in a forward berth, moving Martin Paterson back to the wing.

Carlo Ancelotti has deployed his diamond 4-4-2 formation to great effect this season and the wealth of talent he has at his disposal is frightening. Drogba, who was reprimanded by the FA for throwing a coin back into the Burnley crowd last time the two teams met, will probably partner Nicolas Anelka in attack, although if Ancelotti is confident of a comfortable win, he may give Salomon Kalou a run out. Drogba and Anelka were both on target in the Blues' impressive 2-0 win at Fulham last time out.

He will also have to choose bwteen Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack for the role at the peak of the midfield, with Jon Obi Mikel and Michael Essien near-certainties to be selected.

Chelsea are without the injured trio of Joe Cole, Yuri Zhirkov and Paulo Ferreira, although it is thought Cole is close to making a comeback. Alex and Juliano Belletti could also both miss out. If Ancelotti chooses to blood youngsters the likeliest to come in are Sam Hutchinson and the highly-rated former Manchester City striker Daniel Sturridge.

The Blues' have a 100% record so far this season and have been installed as title favourites following Burnley's defeat of Manchester United. The sensible money is on the hosts to continue their irresistible form, but the Clarets will be hopeful of picking up their first away points of the season.

Prediction: 3-1.

This match preview was written for FansOnline.

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