Chelsea 3-0 Burnley: Ancellotti and Ballack Show Fergie and United How It's Done
A three-goal salvo from Nicolas Anelka, Michael Ballack, and Ashley Cole fired Chelsea back to the summit of the EPL as they hammered Burnley3-0 at Stamford Bridge.
The Pensioners were in devastating form and tore right into the Clarets from the first whistle. Owen Coyle's newcomers had beaten Manchester United and Everton in their previous two games, and Carlo Ancellotti named his strongest side available showing massive respect to the side who many expect to be relegated.
Two weeks ago Alex Ferguson made six changes to the side that beat Birmingham in the opening game of the season as he expected his title challengers to steam roll their way to victory over the league's new boys.
The game gave Fergie a massive shock as Robbie Blake's thunderbolt earned Burnley all three points and a deserved win.
Carlo Ancellotti was in no mood to make the same mistakes as his title rival especially as Burnley had beaten the Pensioners on penalties at Stamford Bridge in last year's Carling Cup and Chelsea went out to battle with their strongest team.
They took the game to Burnley from the off but it was away side who went closest in the early stages after a swift breakaway.
Irish midfielder Chris McCann made his way through the defence with a great run but his awful finish let Chelsea off the hook. Paterson also went close as Burnley caught their opponents on the hop once again, Frank Lampard being caught in possession on the edge of his own box but the he was a relieved man as Paterson fired tamely wide.
At the other end "the Beast" looked like he was going to have another inspired game. Jensen was equal to everything the Chelsea forward line had to throw at him and as half time approached it looked as if the Burnley goal was going to hold out.
Didier Drogba linked well with Nicolas Anelka and the Frenchman poked the ball in off the post, the most feared forward line in European football at the moment combining brilliantly for another goal.
Burnley was dealt a killer blow only minutes into the second half as Chelsea moved further out front.
The brilliant Anelka found space out on the left, he picked out Lampard whose pinpoint cross was headed home by a re-vitalized Michael Ballack.
Since Carlo Ancellotti took over during the summer there have been many column inches dedicated to the two-pronged strike force of Anelka and Drogba, and rightfully so. There have also been much written about their 442 diamond formation, which has evolved from Guus Hiddink's narrow 442.
By evolving the formation slightly Ancellotti is still utilising the speed and penetration that Chelsea's marauding full backs give the team, but now his midfield is more fluid, if still narrow.
The main reason for Ancellotti's formation working so well is obviously the quality that he has at his disposal. Frank Lampard, Micheal Essien, Ballack, Deco, Malouda, the list of midfielders available to the Chelsea boss is frightening.
Since his arrival at Chelsea in 2006, Michael Ballack has always flattered to deceive and has never reached the heights or consistancy that he is capable of.
In Ancellotti's formation, Ballack is thriving. He is being given the perfect base to play his game and the system suits him perfectly. He can play in any of the four key positions and he is the player that has slotted more than any other to guide Chelsea to the top of the league.
With Chelsea easily on top, they went in search of the killer goal.
It arrived soon after as Ashley Cole raced onto Lampard's through pass and hammered the ball home to make the game safe.
Burnley were in damage limitation made at this stage and Chelsea went close on more than one occasion only from Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal to repel their efforts.
Owen Coyle spoke of his dissapointment after the game, "Chelsea were the better side and deservedly got the three points. I was a bit disappointed (in our performance).
"I thought we competed well in the first half and there was a suspicion of offside with the goal," he said. "Then we lost two early goals in the second half and the game was over but in the first half we competed well and had a couple of opportunities."
For Burnley it was their first hammering in the top league. Under Owen Coyle they have done very well in the cup competitions over the last year and they have started this season very well with two memorable wins.
How they bounce back from this loss will be a measure of how they could do for the rest of the season.
Chelsea has had a very comfortable start to this seasons campaign and has yet to face anyone who could truly put it up to them, they travel to Stoke next week before they take on the Spurs at Stamford Bridge a week later, both Spurs and Chelsea have made perfect starts to the season so the game should be a close one.
After this game Chelsea are still favourites to take the title, while Burnley remains firm favourites to be relegated.