By Paul Macdonald at Turf Moor
Chelsea's Achilles heel since the second coming of Jose Mourinho has been dropping points at places where they really shouldn't, but in Cesc Fabregas the Portuguese already looks to have answered the problem as Burnley were efficiently and ruthlessly despatched at Turf Moor on Monday.
Newcastle, Stoke, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace - all venues where their 2013-14 title challenge floundered due to an insipid attack and distinct lack of creativity. Burnley, buoyant from promotion and in front of a raucous home crowd could have proven troublesome, even more so after Scott Arfield's excellent early strike put them ahead.
Step forward Cesc. His display was a microcosm of everything that Chelsea lacked last season; the Spaniard showed poise and incision in systematically picking apart the hosts, helping turn a perilous situation into a 30-minute masterclass of what he and this incarnation of Chelsea are capable of.
His backheel allowed Branislav Ivanovic to fire across goal and create suitable havoc for Diego Costa to draw level, then a simply astounding first-time pass gave Andre Schurrle the chance to slot home what is already one of the goals of the season. It showed a level of invention that is in stark contrast to some of the more stagnant performances of last term. With Cesc, this could be a Chelsea that are thrilling to watch as well as difficult to beat.
He even ensured a hand in every goal by whipping a corner kick onto the head of Ivanovic to conclude a devastating first-half retort to going behind. Alongside Diego Costa - who appears ready-made for this side, producing a fine league debut – the enduring deficiencies that stunted the development of this team appear resolved.
It must be caveated that Burnley were somewhat naive on their return to the Premier League for the first time since 2010. The visitors were given time and space to pick holes in a back line that already looks fragile, and if they continue to be so generous to opposition attackers in and around the area, this inexperienced side could be on the end of one or two lessons in football this season.
|STAR MAN: CESC FABREGAS|
|PLAYER RATING VS BURNLEY|
|GOAL'S FULL MATCH RATINGS|
Nemanja Matic, for one, looked thoroughly content alongside Cesc, while ahead of him Eden Hazard and Schurrle excelled at providing the runs for the Spaniard to pick out.
Indeed, it begs the question as to why Arsenal refused to take up their option to bring him back, or why Barcelona decided to let him go in the first place. Granted, the fans at Camp Nou had made an attempt to scapegoat him, make him the outlet for their disdain at the multitude of problems at the club. But being utilised in many positions, none of which were his optimum, wasn't his fault. There was always a fabulous player who craved being used properly, and Mourinho is willing to give him that platform.
Jose added: "Fabregas was our first choice for that position. I know the player because we have spent many years in the same leagues. In Barcelona he was playing all over, he was playing in so many positions. But he knows what his best position is."
And his best position is so unquestionably dictating the play from the centre of the pitch as he did with such distinction on Monday that it makes it all the more baffling that Barcelona chose not to build their team around him. Their loss, Arsenal's loss, is most definitely Chelsea's gain and if he maintains this level of performance, he is shaping up to be the signing of the summer.