Clarets at the Bridge, the final countdown

06 August 2017

It looks like a tough start for the Clarets. Chelsea regained the Premier League title with relative ease last season, winning 30 of their 38 matches, including winning 17 of their 19 home games.

Burnley retained their Premier League place with relative ease last season, despite winning  just 1 of their19 away games .

Saturday, 12th August 2018 at 15.00 sees the two sides come face to face with each other at Stamford Bridge, in the opening game of the 2017/8 Premier League season .

Anyone perhaps other than Sean Dyche and the Turf Moor faithful would be forgiven for thinking the result is already a foregone conclusion.

So it's a free hit for the Clarets and a chance to cause one of the biggest upsets of the season, before it's hardly got underway. Indeed if the unlikely was to happen, the boost it would bring for Sean Dyche and his players would likely remove any talk of relegation for the rest of the season, as early as August.

But dreaming apart, it's likely to be a case of damage limitation and hoping the EPL Champions make the slow start they made last season, leaving them 8 points behind the leaders by the end of August.

Talking to many Burnley fans, last season's survival certainly hasn't gone to our heads and most expect another a tough battle to avoid the drop this season. And so it rightly  should be with that realistic Northern folks' grip on life.

Dyche's early signings have made it very clear that this season, as part of his plans , he wants more competition for places and players battle hardened and tempered to the excessive demands of the Premier League.

They don't come much tougher than Phil Bardsley who is the latest experienced Premier League recruit to join Jon Walters and Jack Cork. These three players will be joining teammates who themselves have the added advantage of a full Premier League season's experience  behind them.

The mighty Leeds will now have to do without left full back Charlie Taylor, a player who is really just starting his top flight career. Taylor has joined the Clarets on a four year deal who successfully took advantage of West Brom's failure to agree a deal with the Elland Road outfit for this young, talented player.

And talking of rising stars, the close season had sadly seen the departure of Michael Keane , who under Sean Dyche has risen to the heights of the full International team. But sentiment does not come in barrel fulls in football and the Burnley support will soon  quickly get behind Taylor. Hopefully it won't be long before he is putting balls into the box reminiscent of Kieron Trippier and becoming another one of Burnley's ever increasing band of internationals.

I hope critical judgements on players performances come slowly this season. It's a massive season for Keane's replacement James Tarkowski and he needs time to settle next to Ben Mee. Tarkowski has waited patiently in the wings for two full seasons now and he deserves our patience, as well as our best wishes.

Another player who looks like he has earned the full support of the Burnley fans this season due to his performances in pre-season is Steven Defour . As things stand, he is giving his manager his best efforts and working hard applying himself to playing the 'Sean Dyche Way'. While it may take away some of his undoubted creative talent, a fully committed Steven Defour on the pitch more frequently will only benefit the team. Especially as we may have to score more goals this season.

Transfer deadline is still three weeks away and according to Sean Dyche, it is more likely than not more new faces will be arriving soon at Turf Moor.

Yesterday's forced abandonment of the pre-season "friendly" ruined by an hooligan element from Hannover, will not have helped Dyche settle his first team plans for the visit to Chelsea.

Turning our attention to Saturday's game, the future as always will look after itself but in the meantime any superstitious Burnley fans should perhaps practise those lucky pre-match rituals? It might take a bit more than a rabbit's foot or a four leaf clover to take anything away from Stamford Bridge but a new season always brings maximum optimism for faithful football fans.

This pre-match ramble was written by ultra Burnley fan and keen observer of all things Claret and Blue, Michael Donnelly, alias "The Donz". (TEC.)