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Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Burnley

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  • If Chelsea win they will become the second team to win 300 Premier League matches on a single weekday, with Manchester United having won 327 Saturday matches.
  • Pedro is set to miss the opener after picking up a knock, while Victor Moses is suspended.
  • Burnley has never won its opening game of the season in the Premier League.
  • Chelsea have won more points in Matchweek 1 than any other Premier League club (54).

Chelsea begins its title defense on Saturday at Stamford Bridge with a new captain but a pretty similar lineup against Burnley (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Antonio Conte reinforced his squad with the signings of Alvaro Morata, Tiémoué Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger, but the Blues lost on penalty kicks in the Community Shield and failed to win on the club’s two-match tour in Singapore this summer.

Burnley meanwhile is coming off a great escape, surviving the drop and remaining in the Premier League for a second-consecutive season. However, the team has lost starters Michael Keane and Andre Gray, with their replacements not necessarily proven at a much better level.

What they’re saying

Antonio Conte on repeating as champions: I don’t know if this season will be more difficult than last season. For sure, we are champions and we have to face every game in the right way. The other teams will try to put 120 per cent in against us so we have to pay great attention in every game, have the right approach and play with the right intensity.

“I think when you start a new season it’s very important to think about ourselves and not others. To assess the other teams is not important for us. We know very well in England there are six top teams ready to fight for the title, that’s normal, and I think this season that will happen.”

Sean Dyche on facing Chelsea in the opener: “We are in the Premier league for the second successive season, which everyone wanted, so you can’t pick and choose. They are a fine side but the bigger picture is it’s about a season’s work, not tomorrow. The first five or six away games are really tough, but we take them on, as we always do.

“But you can’t measure yourself on one, two three or five games. It’s about a whole season’s work, and that’s what we showed last season.”

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Prediction

Despite some hiccups in preseason and Diego Costa‘s fate still unknown, Chelsea are clearly still one of the top teams in the Premier League and will be in the running for the title. As Dyche said above, the focus for Burnley is on winnable games. This one should be relatively easy for the Blues. Chelsea 3-1 Burnley

Pique: Copa-losing Barca still “really hurting” from UCL exit

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Barcelona was the favorite to win La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey for the majority of the season, but only claimed one.

Liverpool’s amazing comeback to beat Barca in the second leg of the UCL semifinals met Saturday’s loss to Valencia in the Copa del Rey Final to give Barca a league title alone.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Even with that La Liga advantage being decisive — Barca carried the table by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and finished 19 ahead of Real Madrid — there’s a very dour mood and promised change for the Camp Nou set.

And Gerard Pique says it all traces back to the loss against Liverpool. From The Liverpool Echo:

“I believe that if we had gotten through at Liverpool, we would have won the treble. We would have come here [to the Copa del Rey final] with a different mood, and I’m convinced we would have won the Champions League final, but that is football. We are really, really hurting.”

There are hints of a massive clear-out at Barcelona, with Lionel Messi and Pique two of the only safe bets to stay. When will Barca get over it?

Brazilian team tangles in locker room futmesa (video)

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It was defense versus attack in the Brazil dressing room.

Neymar and Gabriel Jesus squared off with international teammates Filipe Luis and Ederson in a game of futmesa/table soccer this week.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Neymar and Filipe Luis are used to be on different sides of the field from their time in La Liga, while Jesus and Ederson are teammates at Manchester City.

Brazil is hosting this summer’s Copa America and is the favorite to win its first tournament since 2007, when it claimed its fourth in five tries.

It’s really impressive stuff for us normal to subpar athletes, even if standard for those with such deft talent.

Quite a winner from Man City’s young striker.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.