Burnley caused the surprise of the opening weekend in the new Premier League season, as they left Stamford Bridge following a 3-2 win against Chelsea.
The champions were reduced to 10-men when captain Gary Cahill was sent off for a lunging challenge on Steven Defour on 14 minutes, and the visitors took advantage of this when Sam Vokes gave them the lead 10 minutes later. The Wales international striker doubled his tally shortly before the break to put the Clarets 3-0 up, following Stephen Ward’s angled drive a few minutes before.
Chelsea’s record signing Alvaro Morata came off the substitute bench to give the hosts some hope when he scored a debut goal for his new club on 69 minutes, but this didn’t last long when referee Craig Pawson shown Cesc Fabregas a second yellow card on 81. And although David Luiz further reduced the deficit in the dying stages of the match, the equaliser evaded the stunned champions.
“The sending off of Gary Cahill was a key moment, because to play the rest of the game with 10 and then nine men is not easy,” Blues coach Antonio Conte is quoted on the BBC Sport website. “I don’t want to comment on the referee, absolutely not. We tried until the end to reach a good result against Burnley – it was a pity because our fight in the second half was very good.
“But in our first half, we kept losing our heads. After the red card we lost our heads, conceded three goals and then it’s very difficult to change the final result. Alvaro Morata is very important and it’s important that he now adapts himself to our philosophy – today he played a good game with the right intensity. Now he has to continue to work with all the rest of our players.”
This win was more than even the most ardent of Burnley supporters would have dreamt, and it is the perfect way to start a season in which many pundits have tipped them to battle against relegation. And manager Sean Dyche couldn’t hide his delight at the final whistle, and later revealed that he hopes this result can give his players the confidence to grow and enjoy a successful campaign.
“We are learning and building an assured view of the Premier League,” he said. “The first half pleased me because although Chelsea went to 10 men, it was not easy. We kept going, and it’s 3-0 at the interval. Winning away from home on the first day quietens down some stories – we’re written off at the start of every season. It kills off a few things and it allows the players that space for growth.”
Arsenal kicked off the new campaign with a thrilling 4-3 win against Leicester City on Friday night, a match which saw new £52million signing Alexandre Lacazette score his first goal within the first two minutes. The Foxes hit back brilliantly from this and led at 2-1 and then 3-2, but substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud made the difference as Arsene Wenger’s side staged a comeback.
Manchester City, the favourites for the title according to so many pundits, opened with a comfortable enough 2-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion, although they were made to work hard by the Premier League new-boys. The same could be said for Liverpool, who finally edged in front of Watford when Mohamed Salah put them 3-2 up, but Jurgen Klopp’s side then conceded a late equaliser.
Huddersfield Town made a remarkable impression on their return to the top-flight, easing past Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park. Wayne Rooney wrote another chapter in his book when he scored the only goal of the game upon his return to Everton to defeat Stoke City, and Ahmed Hegazi’s header was a useful introduction to West Bromwich Albion who saw off Bournemouth 1-0. In the other Premier League match on Saturday, Southampton and Swansea City fought out a goalless draw at St Mary’s.