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 Posted by Phil Lythell
Aug 21, 2014

Chelsea not overconfident under Mou

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he has no regrets over not re-signing Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.

Before a ball was kicked in the Premier League this season, Chelsea were installed as favourites to lift the title by the bookmakers and were also the selection of the majority of the nation's football pundits.

Following the 3-1 win over Burnley, the odds of the Blues sitting on top of the pile next May shortened still from 15-8 to 7-5 as acclaim for the stellar first-half display at Turf Moor flooded in from all corners.

With Cesc Fabregas coming in for special praise for his invention from a central position and filling a void of creativity in that area of the pitch, Chelsea have virtually been anointed as Champions-elect with 37 more fixtures yet to be negotiated. But, in the words of Public Enemy, don't believe the hype.

That is not to say that Chelsea can't or won't be wearing the crown at the end of the season -- just that it is always folly to nail your colours definitively to the mast when so much can change in the ensuing months.

The perils of early season predictions are well documented. From Alan Hansen errantly predicting in August 1995 that Sir Alex Ferguson's "kids" would win nothing for Manchester United before they romped to the league and cup double, to those championing the unbeaten run of Arsenal's "Invincibles" prior to Chelsea winning the Premier League with a record points tally in 2005, the landscape is littered with experts tripping over their tongues. Chelsea have just three points, they have won nothing of substance yet.

Tellingly, Jose Mourinho's demeanour following the final whistle on Monday spoke of a man who knows exactly what is required. There was no jubilation, no triumphalism, not even a smile; just a respectful handshake with Burnley boss Sean Dyche and an instructive chat with Diego Costa as they walked toward the tunnel.

Even during the match, there was little in the way of expression, the only flicker of emotion coming after the equaliser, a reaction perhaps borne from the immediate vindication of his pursuit of Costa or maybe just happy with the immediacy of Chelsea's response to conceding an early goal. Mourinho is fully aware of the cliché that although the league cannot be won before Christmas, it can certainly be placed out of reach.

Another adage is that pride comes before a fall, and with that in mind the Special One will not accept any complacency ahead of the next game, even if it is at Stamford Bridge against another of the newly promoted sides. Leicester City galloped to the Championship title in style last season, accumulating more than 100 points and losing just six times in 46 games. They are used to winning matches, and last weekend secured a highly creditable 2-2 draw against Roberto Martinez's progressive Everton side.

Jose Mourinho's muted demeanor after Chelsea beat Burnley signals his desire to keep things in perspective in the early part of the season.

There is little chance of Mourinho taking them lightly, but their display against the Toffees -- in which they fought back twice after falling behind -- will have ensured that no focus is lost. While the Blues will be fully expected to win, they will have to be prepared to work for the victory, it will not be simply handed to them.

Although the Blues were imperious in Lancashire, the early games of the season can see the newcomers to the Premier League at their brightest with hope and ambition still prevalent before the harsh reality sets in. Chelsea must be professional, play to their strengths and ensure that Leicester's harsh reality starts on Saturday.

Given the way in which they dictated the play in their opening fixture. Mourinho will resist the urge to make too many changes to the starting 11. That said, it would not be a surprise to see Filipe Luis make his competitive debut against the Foxes.

Anticipating a physical encounter in uncomfortable surroundings against Burnley, Mourinho selected a defensive line that was both well-versed in the challenges of English football and sturdy enough to stand up to any robustness employed by their opponents. As it was, it was in defensive areas that Chelsea were the least impressive, with the usually diligent Cesar Azpilicueta having a difficult evening in many respects.

- Jacobs: Leicester fear a reality check at Chelsea
- Jolly: Fabregas is Chelsea's new Lampard

With Chelsea expected to be even more dominant in possession on their home ground and with Leicester's defence tipped to be compact and set deep, Luis' crossing prowess would provide another avenue of attack and afford Costa the type of aerial targets that he relishes. Whether that would see Azpilicueta switched to the right-hand side or him dropped to accommodate Branislav Ivanovic is open to question though one suspects that the Serb defender's imposing physique might earn him the nod from his manager.

More important, however, will be the service provided to the front men and once again the focus will be on Fabregas and his wand of a right foot. One of the bonuses that the former Gunner's presence has is to deflect attention from the array of other options at Chelsea's disposal. Concentrate on stopping Fabregas and Eden Hazard might find space. Double up on them both and Oscar, Andre Schurrle or Costa can cause trouble.

With so much weaponry at hand, Chelsea should have too much for their opponents, though they will also be aware that no points are handed out before the match. If the players do their jobs, then the team will win. Just don't expect any raucous celebrations from Mourinho.

Phil Lythell

One of ESPN's Chelsea bloggers and author of Chelsea-centric blog ShoutyandSpitty.com, Phil has spent his entire life living within a 20-minute walk of Stamford Bridge. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.

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