Big league return kicks off with home defeat

Last updated : 19 August 2014 By Tony Scholes

It was the night we'd all look forward to so much, but those responsible for the fixtures had given us one of the most difficult starts possible with the visit of Chelsea, and after we had gone in front they simply blew us away with a devastating spell of football that we had no real answer to.

During that period they scored three times, the second of them as good a goal as we are likely to see all season, but to our credit we kept in the game and, at least, prevented any further damage in terms of goals.

For any team getting promoted to the Premier League it can be daunting coming up against the likes of Chelsea. We saw that five years ago when they beat us at Stamford Bridge on the third weekend of the season.

Premier League football back at Turf Moor

And so it was that they gave us this one to open up the season. No matter how tough I knew it was going to be, no matter how much they've spent on players, this was the day I'd been looking forward to since Easter.

The only pre-match problem I encountered was the rain that forced me to shelter for a while but I was ready and excited when I got into the ground somewhat earlier than usual, and I was relieved when the entry was quick and trouble free with the new season card.

The team news had already been confirmed by then and I was delighted to see the name of Cameron Dummigan amongst the substitutes. I've been impressed with him since first seeing him play for the youth team and he's obviously impressed manager Sean Dyche sufficiently to have been named in our first Premier League squad just over two months past his 18th birthday.

As for the team, it was, as I had thought, the same eleven who had started the last friendly against Hellas Verona nine days earlier.

I was at that game, and the previous friendly against Celta Vigo, but I have to say as the ground filled up last night it really did look very impressive with the cosmetic changes. The tarting up of the cricket field stand has made a big difference, the new dug outs have finally taken us away from the glory days of the 1960s and I even the new electronic advertising boards, as much as I disliked them, particularly with one green advert, made Turf Moor look so much better.

There were even cameramen hanging over the front of the stand. I'd been led to believe the new low level gantry was for 3D and overseas broadcasters but the main Sky coverage came from there last night; I think I prefer it from the cameras at the back.

The scene was set. The players emerged from the new tunnel, and we were ready for Premier League football again. And it all started encouragingly as we took the game to our illustrious opponents.

There was action at both ends with Chelsea probably coming the closest when a deflection beat Tom Heaton who was relieved to see the ball go wide.

Five years ago, in our very first Premier League home game, Robbie Blake won it for us against Man United with a stunning volley. It was almost as if referee Michael Oliver had marked the spot with his vanishing spray.

With just under a quarter of an hour gone, Chelsea headed  a left wing corner clear, but only as far as Dean Marney. He headed the ball to corner taker Matty Taylor who got to the line before playing the ball across the box to Arfield who took one touch before spectacularly volleying home to send three sides of Turf Moor into raptures, for a few seconds at least before the arrival of the moronic goal music.

There was no Martin Tyler to tell us it was Premier League class this time but it was an outstanding goal from a player we've become accustomed to scoring important goals for us.

Scott Arfield opened the scoring for the Clarets

Would we get a reaction from Chelsea? Hell, did we! For the next twenty minutes they destroyed us with football that, had I not been desperate for a win, was simply a joy to watch.

They were level before we could get settled in our seats. Cesc Fàbregas back heeled a ball out to Branislav Ivanović out on the right. His ball in took a deflection onto the post and it came out perfectly for Diego Costa to hammer home his first goal in English football.

So, the lead didn't last long, but within no time we were behind and this was a goal to savour. Again Fàbregas and Ivanović were involved but the execution of the last two passed was something else. Ivanović played the ball into the middle with a neat flick but the ball from Fàbregas was simply sensational as he set up Andre Schürrle to score.

I almost forgot myself for a moment, forgot that we'd just gone behind and I came close to applauding the brilliance of it. I came, thankfully, to my senses very quickly.

No doubt I was worried now. They might have had a penalty but for the alert officials, and what a good game Michael Oliver had, and then did get a third when Ivanović got himself on the scoresheet when he converted a left wing corner.

How many could this be? It did remain at 3-1 as the half time whistle went and we might just have had a second when Danny Ings turned a Taylor cross just wide.

"We're being outplayed but we are not playing badly," was one comment at half time. It really was the case. The first half really was all about how well Chelsea had played in that period after our goal.

I think every sensible Claret in the ground would have taken a 3-1 defeat at this stage and that's what we got. Arfield was so close to a second only to be denied by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois but you did always get the feeling that had we pulled one back then they might just have stepped up a gear again.

It was a much more quiet affair although our third substitute Marvin Sordell did get an ovation for his yellow card, given his victim was John Terry.

A defeat to start then, but I think the positive reaction of the home crowd at the final whistle said it all. I wanted to win, make absolutely no mistake about that. I'm really disappointed that we didn't get anything out of it.

Yet, I came home and just enthused at some of the football I'd seen. I thought Schürrle was simply outstanding but even he was overshadowed by the brilliant Fàbregas.

We're not in this league to make up the numbers, far from it, but there will be times when the opposition are so much better than us as Chelsea were last night.

Where will we finish this season? That I can't even think to answer now. Where will Chelsea finish this season? I'll be amazed if they are not in the top two.

I remain disappointed that we haven't got off the mark yet but I don't envisage many teams playing as well against us during the remainder of the season. I'm already looking forward to Swansea.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Scott Arfield, Dean Marney, David Jones, Matt Taylor (Michael Kightly 70), Danny Ings (Marvin Sordell 82), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Ashley Barnes 70). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Cameron Dummigan, Kevin Long, Ross Wallace.
Yellow Card: Marvin Sordell.

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanović, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta, Cesc Fàbregas, Nemanja Matic, Andre Schürrle (Willian 78), Oscar (John Obi Mikel 82), Eden Hazard (Didier Drogba 84), Diego Costa. Subs not used: Petr Cech, Kurt Zouma, Fernando Torres, Filipe Luis.
Yellow Card: Diego Costa.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance: 20,699.