After a home performance such as the one on display today, it is very hard to note any negatives to take away. The back four that was horrendous last season seems more comfortable; the forwards look hungry once more, and the midfield that was essentially barraged through time and again in 2015/16 has appeared the biggest improvement out of all.
N’Golo Kanté’s coverage (much better than T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T) means that the team regained possession almost the very second they had the chance to say goodbye to it. But Chelsea’s eagerness to get the ball back did not stop with Kanté. Oscar, Matic, and sometimes even Azpilicueta when he drifted into the midfield, were exceptional at pressing the ball. So much so that their primary concern was not bumping into each other while they were fighting for the ball.
Oscar’s inclusion in the starting lineup was justified as the Brazilian put in another shift after somewhat disappearing in the game against Watford. Though his consistency is still subject to much criticism, he now appears to have sealed his place in Conte’s system with his high energy pressing style. It should be noted though, the display against Burnley was one of the poorer performances from the no. 10 in terms of his artistry in the final third. Still only 24-years old, Oscar could have a breakthrough this season if he can keep getting more minutes.
As for Nemanja Matic, the Serb definitely looked more composed than he did in the first two games of the Premier League season. There were signs that the defensive side of the game that made him such a monster in the 2014/15 Chelsea midfield was returning. His passing, though, still needs a ton of improvement (and that’s putting it mildly) if he is to keep his place in the starting lineup from Cesc Fabregas on a regular basis.
The forward three of Hazard, Costa, and Willian (CEW?) looked spectacular in everything they did. Especially the little magician, who returned to his phenomenal best and scored a spectacular solo goal. This is the Hazard that Chelsea fans (and I) adore, and when he plays like this, everyone around him benefits and somehow turn into their best selves. The remaining two in this frontline were at the very peak of their form, except for some particular moments when Costa had his legs frozen and could not convert from inside the penalty area.
The back four played with the confidence and composure that should really become a regularity. The lack of serious attacking threat from Burnley, though, means that it is deceitful to read too much into it. Ivanovic still looks a bit nervy in his defensive duties, and the defensive line still appeared breachable, something that Conte will definitely improve upon as time passes.
With only four days to go in the transfer market, Chelsea still have a genuine need for a centre-back, fullback, and a midfielder. Cahill and Ivanovic could see their game-time cut short, and so too could Matic, given he still lacks the creative nous that a midfielder like Brozovic or James could offer. All in all, Conte needs to be lauded for his effectiveness on the squad so far, but he won’t be fooled by this spectacular performance so much as the rest of us.