EPL Match Preview: Chelsea v Burnley: Diego Costa returns to league action
Chelsea return from midweek Champions League action to host Burnley at Stamford Bridge for the first time in five-and-a-half years.
The Blues head into the match as heavy favourites but with the relegation-threatened visitors desperate for points, it's unlikely to be a walk in the park.
Chelsea has the upper hand in recent history having defeated Burnley in our last three league meetings since 2009. The Lancashire side knocked us out of the Carling Cup after penalties in 2008, but they haven't taken league point from us since a Second Division clash back in 1983.
Jose Mourinho and his Blues have dropped only a single point in their last five Premier League outings, but Sean Dyche will be telling his fearless Burnley side to draw confidence from the Blues' shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Bradford City last month.
(D) Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Chelsea
(W) Chelsea 1-0 Everton
(W) Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
(W) Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City
(W) Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
(L) Manchester United 3-1 Burnley
(D) Burnley 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
(L) Sunderland 2-0 Burnley
(L) Burnley 2-3 Crystal Palace
(L) Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 Burnley
Last Five Meetings
Burnley 1-3 Chelsea (League, 2014)
Burnley 1-2 Chelsea (League, 2010)
Chelsea 3-0 Burnley (League, 2009)
Chelsea 1-1 (4-5) Burnley (Carling Cup, 2008)
Burnley 3-0 Chelsea (League, 1983)
Chelsea Team News
Diego Costa returns to the starting lineup after serving his three-match suspestion. Francesc Fabregas (illness), Oscar (illness) and Willian (calf) are all doubtful, while John Obi Mikel is sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury until early March.
Burnley Team News
Matthew Taylor (achilles) is unavailable for the trip to west London, but is expected to return by the end of February. Kevin Long (knee) and Dean Marney (knee) are both ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Matic, Cuadrado, Oscar, Hazard, Costa
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee, Boyd, Arfield, Jones, Kightly, Barnes, Ings
Chelsea should be capable of sweeping Burnley aside even while giving a few first-teamers a breather at this key stage of the campaign. With Willian unlikely to feature, Juan Cuadrado could be given a full 90 minutes to show what he's got in front of an expectant Stamford Bridge crowd.
Burnley will look to the speedy Danny Ings to provide a threat on the break, but his opportunities should be few and far between if the Blues can command possession as we've done most of this season.
Even if the visitors do nick a surprise opener, they've let a two-goal lead slip in three of their last five matches. But another loss would deal a serious blow to the Claret's chances of beating the drop this campaign, so the Blues should be prepared for a tenacious encounter.
Some tired legs from Champions League duty on Tuesday evening could give rise to a slow start, but if we can settle early and create a few chances for our returning topscorer Diego Costa, a potentially tricky afternoon against a desperate Burnley side could be made relatively easy. I see this one ending 3-1 to the Blues.
What are your score predictions?