Chelsea-Burnley F.C. Preview
Burnley will face a tough early test of their Premier League credentials when they play Chelsea at Turf Moor on Monday evening.
The Clarets, who finished second in the Championship last season to win promotion to England's top flight, have a squad of mostly unheralded players and manager Sean Dyche does not have the financial resources available to strengthen his team with expensive new signings.
However, the 43-year-old Dyche has still been busy in the transfer market during the summer and managed to sign several players with Premier League experience. Michael Kightly (from Stoke), Steven Reid (West Bromwich Albion), Matt Taylor (West Ham) and Stephen Ward (Wolverhampton Wanderers) have all moved to Turf Moor on free transfers or for nominal fees.
Dyche remains philosophical about his club's financial position compared with some of its mega-rich rivals.
"There will be a vast gap in resources available, that's the reality of it," Dyche said. "There are probably still eight Championship clubs I could name off the bat who have got a better player wage level than we have now. But look at what you've got not what you haven't. We have to find a way of operating to get where we want.
"There are no guarantees in any division in any season, let alone the Premier League, so we have to earn the right and fight hard to get what we can off anyone."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, has been able to revamp his side with a number of headline-grabbing signings, most notably Brazil striker Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona. Brazil defender Filipe Luis has also moved to Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid, while striker Didier Drogba has rejoined the Blues after spending one season with Shanghai Shenhua in China and another with Turkish club Galatasaray.
Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is back at Chelsea after spending three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid and is expected to contend the No 1 jersey with Petr Cech.
"This season obviously we bought some key players, we believe and we are feeling that the new players have brought the squad and team into another dimension," Mourinho said. "Yes we are title contenders, if you expect me to say we will win the Premier League I can't say that. I can't because I have to respect the competition, which is the only one that has more than two title contenders.
"I understand that because of mine and Chelsea's last 10 years expectations are high, but I really don't care about it. I just want to be myself, work hard every day, have ambition to win the next game, it doesn't matter where, in which competition or against which opponent, that's part of me. I want to win against Burnley, that's the first step, and to win against Burnley will be very hard."
Several big names left Chelsea during the close season. Brazil defender David Luiz signed for French champions Paris Saint-Germain for a reported fee of 50 million pounds, while left-back Ashley Cole joined Roma on a free transfer and Frank Lampard, who was also out of contract, signed for new Major League Soccer franchise New York City. Lampard has since joined Premier League champions Manchester City on a six-month loan until the start of the 2015 MLS season.
Chelsea also released strikers Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o, in addition to goalkeeper Henrique Hilario. The Blues have allowed Nigeria winger Victor Moses to sign for Stoke City on a season-long loan. Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku was also sold for 28 million pounds to Everton, where he spent last season on loan.
Chelsea did the double over Burnley in 2009/2010, the Lancashire club's only previous season in the Premier League. The Blues won 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and 2-1 at Turf Moor.