x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Ancelotti's diamond shimmers

Chelsea are making such rapid progress under Carlo Ancelotti that after beating Burnley comprehensively 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Ashley Cole celebrates scoring Chelsea's third against Burnley at Stamford Bridge.
Ashley Cole celebrates scoring Chelsea's third against Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

LONDON // Chelsea are making such rapid progress under Carlo Ancelotti that after beating Burnley comprehensively 3-0 at Stamford Bridge the Italian has said he does not need Franck Ribery or any other signings for that matter. The result, secured by goals from Nicolas Anelka, Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole, means Chelsea have won all four of their opening fixtures in the Premier League, but more importantly their performances are increasing in quality.

On the opening day Chelsea had to come from behind to beat Hull, 2-1, and several of the team looked to be struggling with their manager's diamond formation. But the way in which Ancelotti's players moved seamlessly around the field against Burnley should have the rest of the "Big Four" looking on nervously. Chelsea's movement was so quick, incisive and clever that without building up a sweat they could easily have won this match by eight or nine goals.

The home side's performance was so convincing that afterwards Ancelotti ruled out a move for Ribery, who had been the subject of a £45 million (Dh270m) bid from the club earlier in the summer and who is reported to be available after his club Bayern Munich signed Arjen Robben from Real Madrid. "Will I make a bid? No," said Ancelotti. "I'm looking forward to the end of the transfer market. We will stay very well with these players. We don't want to change and we don't want to take other players."

That decision is hardly surprising considering Chelsea have Joe Cole and Yuri Zhirkov available to add to their squad when they recover from injury. Ancelotti added: "We are happy. We are two months in, and, at this moment, the play has improved. The confidence of our play has improved. We have a possibility to win the title - we start well, but know the season is very long." This was certainly a ruthless display from Chelsea. True, they were up against opponents who are still finding their feet at the top level. But don't forget Burnley had made an impressive start to the season by beating Manchester United and Everton at home and were contenders at Stamford Bridge, too, for 45 minutes.

They should, have taken the lead after 10 minutes when Frank Lampard inexplicably gave the ball away to Tyrone Mears who squared for teammate Martin Paterson. The striker was only eight yards from goal, but somehow contrived to send his shot wide of the post. It was a big miss and one that proved costly. If it hadn't been for giant goalkeeper Brian Jensen, nicknamed 'The Beast' by Burnley fans, Chelsea would have been five or six ahead by half-time as the Dane saved twice from Lampard and also from Ballack, Deco and John Terry

It was the fact that the breakthrough goal came in first-half injury time that really hurt the visitors, though, and there was an element of luck about it, too. Michael Essien's threaded pass set Drogba free on the right and his low cross bobbled off defender Clarke Carlisle before hitting Anelka as he slid in at the far post. From then on there was only going to be one outcome, a fact that was emphasised on 47 minutes when Lampard crossed from the left for Ballack to score with a stooping header.

It was 3-0 by the 52nd minute, Cole volleying home spectacularly following a clever one-two with Lampard. Poor Burnley. They needed 'The Beast' to make further saves, notably from Essien and Ballack, to keep the score respectable. But if Ancelotti's team continue their current rate of progress it is going to take a very good side to finish above them. sports@thenational.ae