Chelsea begin their bid to erase the memory of last season's trophy-less, third-placed finish with a trip to newly promoted Burnley. The Lancashire-based club were last in the Premier League for the 2009-10 season, but their stay in the top flight was a short one, lasting just a single campaign.
However, manager Sean Dyche's plucky team can be counted on to provide a stern first test for Chelsea. Jose Mourinho has retooled his squad well after last season.
The key arrivals are midfield playmaker Cesc Fabregas and striker Diego Costa. They should both make a huge impact in an attack that was largely pedestrian and lacked a focal point.
Costa will now be the focal point. His fiendishly clever movement and finishing guile make him an ideal target for the vision and creative temperament of Fabregas.
However, don't underestimate the boost new left-back Filipe Luis can provide to an already miserly defence. Before delving into a deeper preview of the game, here's all of the relevant schedule information, including start time and streaming details:
|Monday, August 18||8 p.m. (BST) / 3 p.m. (ET)||Sky Sports 1 / NBCSN, mun2 NBC Sports Live Extra||Sky Go, ChelseaFC.com / NBC Sports Live Extra|
SkySports.com, SI.com and Stream.NBCSports.com
Expect a Great Return to EPL Action for Fabregas
Spanish pass-master Fabregas was last seen in the Premier League back in 2011. At the time, he was plying his trade for Arsenal and cutting something of a disgruntled figure.
However, Fabregas can announce his return with a bang by delivering a match-winning performance at Turf Moor. The last time he visited Burnley's stadium in league action, Fabregas netted Arsenal's only goal in a 1-1 draw back in December 2009.
He also scored the first of the Gunners' three goals in a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium in March 2010. Fabregas will be in the mood to torment Burnley again.
BBC Sport pundit Robbie Savage identifies the Spaniard as a key man for Chelsea's title hopes:
His awareness, vision and creativity is top class and, despite not being the quickest, he is also sharp over the first couple yards.
He created so many chances at Arsenal that he is still one of the leading assist-makers in the Premier League over the last 10 years despite having been at Barcelona since 2011.
That thought is echoed by Telegraph writer Matt Law. He has highlighted Fabregas' ability to split defensive gaps as a key quality Chelsea missed last season:
Incredibly, Chelsea attempted fewer through-balls for their strikers last season than relegated Norwich and considerably fewer than their title rivals.
They expect Fabregas to address that problem. Manchester City’s David Silva played the most through-balls per game last term, but Fabregas beat his 0.59 average in each of his last five seasons for Barcelona and Arsenal.
Expect a fast start to life back in England for Fabregas. The 27-year-old will supply more than one chance for Chelsea attackers at Turf Moor, with one of his passes proving decisive.
Danny Ings Will Again Be the Key Man for Burnley
If Burnley are going to spring a major shock, the club needs star striker Danny Ings to fire. The prolific talisman was the key figure during Burnley's promotion campaign last season.
He netted 21 goals and provided five assists, per WhoScored.com. The quick and active attacker is the focal point of Burnley's slick passing game.
The Clarets usually keep the ball on the ground but may struggle to impose their possession-based game on a rugged Chelsea outfit. That means chances are likely to be in short supply.
So Dyche needs his best finisher to be alert and proficient enough to take maximum advantage of any rare openings. It will help if Ings gets supply from new signing Michael Kightly.
The tricky winger is a very gifted player, but also an incredibly fragile one. Kightly's health could be a decisive factor in Burnley's bid to beat the drop this season.
Will Chelsea win the title this season?
This game is likely to be close during its early stages. However's Chelsea physical power will soon wear down Burnley's defiant resistance. That will give the newfound flair added by Fabregas the chance to win the match.
For the Blues, it will be a creditable start to what will surely be a strong and sustained pursuit of the title. By contrast, Burnley will receive their first reminder of just how tough Premier League life is.