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Koeman eyes Champions League spot


Burnley given rude awakening

The cynics were quick to suggest that the only records Burnley would be breaking in the Premier League this season would be of the variety that guarantee infamy rather than acclaim and they could easily have lived up to that billing here at Stamford Bridge.

Were it not for another inspired performance by keeper Brian Jensen, Chelsea could have become the first team in Premier League history to score ten goals in one match, yet they were content to settle for the mere three on a day when Burnley were horribly exposed for the first time.

Owen Coyle's new-boys were instantly dismissed by many as cannon fodder after their promotion in May and not even victories over champions Manchester United and last year's fifth place side Everton had been enough to change some settled minds.

It is not often you see a Premier League side given ludicrously long odds of 20/1 to pull of a victory in a two horse race, but thus was Burnley's fate ahead of this game as the bookies clearly saw the underdogs as little more than a punch bag hired to give Chelsea a workout in front of the ESPN cameras. Had some of the doubters forgotten that Burnley had taken on a strong Chelsea side and emerged victorious in a Carling Cup tie at this very stadium a little under a year ago?

Picking up the odd draw at venues like this would have been on their mind when they arrived, but all the confidence they have gained from the first few weeks of the season drained away as it quickly became clear that this was not another day for a romantic upset.

To their credit, Burnley started this game with that verve and drive that won them so many admirers last term and had Martin Paterson made the most of his ninth minute chance when he was merely needed to beat Petr Cech from inside the penalty area, the improbable dream of a win at Stamford Bridge could have moved a step closer.

After their narrow escape, Chelsea cranked through the gears in a highly-entertaining opening 45 minutes as the game rapidly turned into a contest between Clarets keeper Brian Jensen and a group of world class players who were in no mood to show their opponents an ounce of mercy.

Jensen did well to deny Nicolas Anelka, Michael Ballack, John Terry and Frank Lampard in what was a one-sided opening 45 minutes, but he was beaten on the stroke of the break as Chelsea carved through a Burnley defence that must have been gasping for air after they were pinned to the ropes for the equivalent of 15 rounds.

Michael Essien's neat through ball sent Didier Drogba clear on the right flank and after his drilled cross took the seemingly invincible Jensen out of the picture, Anelka slid in at the back post to break the deadlock.

You couldn't help but feel a little sorry for a Burnley side who had come within seconds of reaching the break on level terms, yet the opening goal proved to be the end of their resistance as the second period developed into a slaughter of the side in claret shirts.

As Ballack headed home a second goal and Ashley Cole fired in a third in the opening exchanges of the second period, this quickly became a damage limitation exercise for Burnley and they were relieved to reach the end without any more damage to their pride.

Colye's post match press conferences are generally delivered at a rapid pace and a few of us in the press room were tempted to have a sweepstake on how quickly he muttered his vastly over used catchphrase, 'Bunley Futbul Club'. We didn't have to wait long.

"It's always going to be difficult for Bunley Futbul Club to come to a place like this and match a side with as much quality as Chelsea," stated the ex-Republic of Ireland striker. "We have the smallest budget in the Premier League by a mile, but there is a lot for us to be pleased about from our start to the season.

"Conceding a goal on the stroke of half-time was vital and we didn't give ourselves a chance in the second half. If we had taken our guilt-edge chance early on, things would have been different, but we needed big Brian to keep them out and he was fantastic for us. Despite this defeat, I'm still delighted with our start to the season."

Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea have rediscovered the speed of thought they lacked at times last season and their movement was hugely impressive as they battered Burnley into submission. Looking slick and bursting with energy, the bursts of full-backs Cole and Jose Bosingwa were easier to make against a side who had accepted their fate long before the end, but it was still a fine display from a Chelsea side who struggled to break down lesser opponents during Luiz Felipe Scolari's doomed days as coach.

"I'm so proud to be manager of this team because they are showing amazing quality every week," said a delighted Ancelotti. "To have maximum points from four games is the perfect start, but I will not allow anyone to get carried away. It's not just the result, but this great performance that pleases me.

"We had a perfect display and I would like to give special praise to Michael Essien, who did an amazing job in the midfield and found the pass that broke the game open for us."

Beating Burnley is hardly a sign that Chelsea are worthy of their tag as title favourites, but this brutal pummelling sends them into the international break in fine heart.

As for Owen Coyle's men, six points from four games still represents a fine start to their Premier League campaign and they can be grateful after escaping from Stamford Bridge with a scoreline that preserved their dignity.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Brian Jensen

The Burnley keeper has been one of the star men in this first month of the Premier League season and he kept the scoreline respectable at Stamford Bridge.

BURNLEY VERDICT: From the minute Paterson missed his early chance, this was a game Burnley were never likely to enjoy. It is not often a side feels happy to have 'only' lost 3-0, but that was the scenario on this occasion.

CHELSEA VERDICT: This was a hugely impressive display from a side who are showing the sort of drive and passion that they refused to give Luiz Felipe Scolari last season. Drogba and Anelka seem to be working out how to play together up front as every box was ticked in this sparkling performance. The aura they have lost in recent years may soon be about to return.


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