Desmond Kane

Jose’s ‘little horse’ now a dashing thoroughbred called Blue Beauty

Desmond Kane

View gallery


It's grim up north, but only for Burnley.

As the actor Brian Glover used to say in the famous old Allinson's advert with an industrial twang, bread's better 'wi' nowt taken out'. So is football. For Chelsea, this summer has been all about putting back in. Jose Mourinho's side are suddenly full of industry on a revolutionary scale.

A 3-1 win for the visiting side that largely flattered Burnley was a binge of epic proportions. Here was a vintage wholemeal served with a Lancashire hotpot that left no room for anyone to feel undernourished.

Despite the obvious largesse amid those haggard financial fair play rules, what a glorious sight £190 million of football investment represents on such evenings. Forget the rest of the opening weekend fixtures in the Premier League: earthy Burnley with its population hovering around 70,000 was the place to be.

Like a reliable wholemeal, Chelsea are on the rise among England’s elite. The Spanish pair of Diego Costa (yes, officially he is Spanish despite resembling an extra from Scarface and being born in Brazil) and Cesc Fabregas could not have had more impressive debuts if they had gathered around some paella and cava to try to envisage such regal goings on.

You really couldn't make this up.

Start as you mean to go. On a slab of grass at Turf Moor, Chelsea last night made a comprehensive case to frazzled turf accountants everywhere why they will carry off this Premier League prize. Clarence Darrow could not provide a telling alternative why they won't.

Chelsea have it all going on, and then some. They are the immovable object and the irresistible force. For a blistering 25-minute period in the first half, Chelsea looked like Barcelona and Bayern Munich rolled into one. A new brand of tiki-taka torment for bamboozled Burnley, a newly promoted bunch of honest triers assembled for five million quid who were encountering Yeovil Town this time last year.

Chelsea are specialists on the opening day with coach Jose Mourinho having won six straight games on the first day during two stints running the London side.

Chelsea last lost a match on the opening day in 1998 when Coventry City usurped them.

This was never going to go provide a blemish on the record despite a quite majestic volley by Scott Arfield that gave the home fans false ownership of belief they had no right to. They were allowed to dream for only three minutes before Costa injected realism.

To put all this into some context, the energetic Arfield is man who has touched down in the Premier League on a free via Falkirk and Huddersfield Town.

View gallery


It is difficult to fathom that it has been nine years since Jose's side required a late, late winner from Hernan Crespo to deny newly promoted Wigan a point on the opening day of the 2005/06 season at the JJB. This visit to Lancashire was never going to result in such shenanigans.

The home side will have ended up quietly content that Chelsea decided to declare on three in this cricketing county. The second half mostly enabled the visiting side to put on a fashionable show of possession football.

Costa's equaliser bludgeoned the rigging three minutes after his side had shipped the opening goal. It was his 27 goals for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid that earned him his £32m move to London. He will wallow in goals this season.

Chelsea engineered a quite delicious move for their second that will be considered one of the goals of the season after the opening day as a sequence of 21 passes ended with Branislav Ivanovic finding Fabregas to play in Andre Schuerrle with an astonishing, audacious cushioned ball for another pass into the Burnley net.

The German kid is a World Cup winner. Burnley are not Brazil, but his goal was every bit as impressive as his finish during the 7-1 shredding of big Phil Scolari's side in the Maracana.

Ivanovic made it three with a volley from a Fabregas corner on 34 minutes as everyone continued to salivate over the quality of Chelsea.

The one blot on the landscape was a nonsensical yellow card for Costa three minutes earlier. He was clearly fouled when he hurdled a rash challenge from the Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

View gallery


The referee Michael Oliver decided to book Costa when the obvious solution in real time seemed to suggest a red for the goalkeeper and a penalty to Chelsea. It was the wrong call, but had little bearing on the final outcome.

For fantasy football aspirants, Fabregas seems to be the ideal signing. A man who will revel in assists as much as goals.

For Cesc, this was a night of fantasy football. Several questions immediately sprung to mind studying his gait. Why did Barcelona sell him? Why did Barca need to sell him? Why has he been failing with Spain? And most pertinent of all, why did Arsenal not conjure up the £30m required to exercise their right of first refusal in bringing him back to the Premier League?

These questions will be answered in time, but Mourinho's description of him as 'the maestro' was apt.

Barca and Arsenal's loss will be Chelsea's gain. He is blue now.

“He (Fabregas) moved to Spain also, so for the last 10 years we have been in the same league for six or seven. I know exactly what he will bring," said Mourinho.

"For Barça he was the fake nine, the number ten and winger but I know and he knows what is his best position so he is giving exactly what we need. Quick thinking in midfield. He brings people in the same direction. I am really happy.”

A slimmed down Jose has lost a few pounds this summer when one studies his cheek bones, but his squad allows him to retain a rich diet. Fabregas remains worth his weight in gold.

The goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made a debut ahead of Petr Cech. He made a quite thrilling save from Arfield in the second half.

There was even time for Didier Drogba to enjoy a cameo. He was given seven minutes at the end, and wound up tossing his shirt into the visiting end. It was that sort of night, an outing that hints at lots more to come.

It was the BBC commentator John Motson who said it was so easy to fall in love with football like this when the Milan vintage of 1989 buried Real Madrid 5-0 back in the old European Cup semi-finals. And Chelsea's evening felt a bit like this - especially when that second goal was carried out.

Mourinho spoke of Chelsea being a "little horse" during his side's run to third spot last season. He was derided for those comments, accused of playing disingenuous mind games.

Nobody will mistake this side for anything other than a dashing thoroughbred. Not Black Beauty, but Blue Beauty.

Sean Dyche's unsuspecting Burnley are unlikely to be the only side to face severe problems coping with Chelsea in the weeks and months ahead.

So much for boring, boring Chelsea under Mourinho. It is so easy to fall in love with football like this.

Desmond Kane

View comments (50)