As Chelsea welcome Burnley to Stamford Bridge for the first time in four years, and possibly for the last time in just as many, we get to take stock of just how far we've come since opening day.
Ahead of kick-off under the bright Monday Night Lights at Turf Moor on that August day, we had wondered how the four new arrivals from Spain would fit in. Would Thibaut Courtois immediately slot in ahead of Petr Čech? Would Filipe Luís start? Would Diego Costa be able to replicate his goalscoring prowess of the previous season? Where and in what role would Cesc Fàbregas play, and is his brand of passing excellence really the answer we were looking for in midfield? Most importantly, would they provide the missing ingredients for not just a sustained but a successful title challenge?
We've shown great consistency in terms of performance in the past six months, no doubt helped by a consistency in lineups and a largely short injury list. Except for André Schürrle who was sold in January, we could very well line up against Burnley the same way we did in the very first match of the season. While there's a danger of key players running out of steam before the business end of the season, so far Mourinho's reluctance to change a winning team is paying off.
Having already built and lost an eight-point lead, we're perhaps less confident in our seven-point cushion than we should be. I suppose that's not a bad thing, especially if it keeps the players grounded and focused with Manchester City starting to look like a team once again. Nothing in football can be taken for granted after all.
Thirteen games to go.
Date / Time: Saturday, February 21, 2015, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Martin Atkinson -- our buddy's back for the fourth time this season, almost exactly a month after overseeing our 1-1 draw at Liverpool in the League Cup semifinal first leg. While we have failed to register a win in the last two matches under Atkinson (including the 2-1 loss at Newcastle), overall, we have won 23 of 32, with 0 losses and just 3 draws in 16 matches at the Bridge (including the 2-0 win over Arsenal this season).
Forecast: Morning showers should give way to a drier, colder afternoon and evening.
On TV: none (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports HD 4 (India); elsewhere
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra, Deportes Telemundo En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Chelsea team news: John Obi Mikel remains the only official injury victim, though as Mourinho revealed that four starters against PSG hadn't trained at all before that match, our fitness situation isn't exactly worry free.
Presumably at least three of those players will start today as well (Hazard, Ivanović, Fàbregas) with perhaps Juan Cuadrado getting the nod over the fourth, Willian. I'm assuming Oscar will be back in the middle, relegating Ramires to the bench and allowing Fàbregas to drop deeper to orchestrate things. And, for the first time since he trod on Emre Can's foot, Diego Costa will be back to continue adding to his already impressive domestic goal total. The striker has six goals in his last 7 Premier League games.
Manchester City have Saturday's late kick-off at home against Newcastle United, so for just a few hours at least, Chelsea have the opportunity to open up a 10-point lead at the top.
Burnley team news: As far as surprisingly dangerous opponents go, teams involved in the relegation fight can always cause problems. Remember Sunderland? (I'm sorry if you do, or just did.) There are just three points separating five teams -- Burnley, Aston Villa, QPR, Hull, and Sunderland -- and even though Burnley lead the league in goals conceded, they got a bit unlucky to not get a better result at Old Trafford last week, while not that long ago they scored two against Manchester City to earn a draw at the Etihad. 21-year-old Danny Ings is another striker in great form (5 in his last 6) -- more on him and the rest of Sean Dyche's setup in Rob's great opposition analysis.
Burnley will be without the services of Dean Marney, Kevin Long (both ACL), and Matthew Taylor (Achilles). Marney is the one big loss for the visitors; he had started 12 straight Premier League games before his injury.
Previously: Well, let's just watch that Schürrle goal one more time, shall we?