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Betting preview: Chelsea - Burnley

Chelsea's Premier League title defence begins with a game against Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

 

It has been a curious summer for the defending champions, who have signed Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata and Antonio Rudiger but still not had everything their own way. Manager Antonio Conte, a temperamental figure at the best of times, does not appear to be happy with the club's decision to sell Nemanja Matic to a direct domestic rival in Manchester United, while Diego Costa is still hanging around Cobham and several youngsters with the potential to be squad players have instead been loaned out.
 
All of which means that the Blues have not really improved their depth ahead of the new season; Chelsea were fortunate with injuries last time out and will now have Champions League football to contend with, so it is not hard to work out why Conte seems a little concerned on the eve of the big kick-off. That said, Chelsea won the league at a canter in 2015/16 - 30 wins in 38 matches set a new Premier League record - and will still be there or thereabouts next spring.
 
Burnley's summer has been equally troublesome, with star defender Michael Keane and leading striker Andre Gray both departing Turf Moor for rival Premier League outfits. Joey Barton has also left the club after a short-lived second spell, but his experience has been replaced by newcomers Phil Bardsley and Jon Walters, while Jack Cork and Charlie Taylor have also been added to the ranks. The Lancashire outfit will surely need to bring in more bodies before the window closes at the end of the month, though, particularly as Keane and Gray were so integral to their survival last time out.

Sean Dyche's side upset the odds in avoiding relegation last season, which they did by a rather comfortable margin of six points. Burnley's success was largely a result of their home form - they won 10 and drew three of their 19 top-tier encounters in front of their own supporters at Turf Moor; by contrast, they emerged victorious in only won of their games away from home, which is a record they will surely need to improve if they are to extend their stay in the first division to a third consecutive season.
 
Conte will have to make do without Eden Hazard (ankle) and new boy Bakayoko (knee), but Pedro Rodriguez is available for selection despite his red card in the Community Shield against Arsenal last weekend. Willian is the favourite to replace Hazard on the left-hand side of the Blues' front three, with Morata likely to get the nod ahead of Michy Batshuayi as the team's No.9. Cesc Fabregas will partner N'Golo Kante in the centre of midfield, meanwhile, and Rudiger could be handed a competitive debut as part of the hosts' three-man backline.
 
Burnley, meanwhile, will be unable to call upon the services of Dean Marney (knee), but Dyche otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from. Given the strength of their opponents, the visitors to west London may opt for a 4-5-1 formation instead of their customary 4-4-2, with Sam Vokes leading the line alone ahead of a three-man midfield. At the other end of the field, goalkeeper Tom Heaton - who was superb in 2016/17 - will have to be at the top of his game if Burnley are to secure any sort of positive result against the champions.
 
Taking everything into account, it is difficult to look past a pretty comfortable afternoon for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend. Conte's charges were so reliable against the bottom 14 last year and should have far too much for the Clarets, who were woeful on the road in 2016/17. A win to nil looks like a safe bet here, while a 2-0 triumph could be the way to go in the correct scoreline market.

England - Premier League Chelsea vs Burnley 8 August, 14:00 GMT 0

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