An impressive loss continues the trend of shambolic title defenses
Chelsea issued a statement of intent for the 2018/19 season with a 3-2 loss to Burnley to start the 2017/18 Premier League campaign.
Gary “Captain. Leader. Bonehead.” Cahill was sent off for a reckless challenge in just the 14th minute, reducing Chelsea to 10 men. Burnley then capitalized by scoring three goals before halftime. In the second half, Chelsea’s record signing Alvaro Morata came off the bench to score his first Premier League goal in the 69th minute. Cesc Fabregas was booked a second time to put Chelsea down to nine men in the 81st minute, but David Luiz made the score more respectable in the 88th minute despite the severe disadvantage. Burnley won 3-2, their first win at Stamford Bridge since 1971.
Each of the previous two Premier League champions (Chelsea in 2014/15 and Leicester in 2015/16) have taken just one point from their first two matches the following season, putting this Chelsea team right on pace to continue that trend and reclaim the title in two years.
“I want to murder everyone,” Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said after the match. “The board. The players. My staff. Everyone. But this is great news for whoever becomes the manager after I get sacked, so congratulations to them.”
Before the season began, Conte expressed his desire to avoid a “Mourinho season”—the year following Mourinho’s third Premier League title in 2014/15 in which Chelsea got off to a terrible start and sacked their manager seven months after he won the league. They eventually finished 10th, then hired Conte and won the league again last season.
Chelsea have all the makings of a sub-standard season that would prompt a resurgent title campaign next year: A squad that’s too small to compete in multiple competitions, injuries to key players, a messy legal battle with want-away striker Diego Costa, a proven manager who hasn’t been sacked yet, and a universe that can only be counted on to produce maximum amounts of football banter.
Of course, this was just one match and a lot can change over the remaining 37 that could potentially endanger Chelsea’s success in 2018/19. But for now, another title celebration appears to be in their not too near future.