Cesc Fàbregas rightly won the plaudits for his performance in Chelsea's 3-1 win over Burnley. The Spaniard capped off an impressive Blues debut on Monday with two assists to help secure an impressive WhoScored rating of 8.73 on his first game back in English football.
The second of his assists, a corner that found Branislav Ivanovic to smash home from close range, was routine by Fàbregas' standards, but it was the first - for André Schürrle - that had watchers salivating. Eden Hazard's mazy run punched a hole in the Burnley defence, opening up a gap for the Blues to exploit, before the Belgian passed to Ivanovic to cross for Fàbregas. The ball was the perfect height to be struck, but instead of going for goal, the Spain midfielder picked out Schürrle to his right with a disguised and perfectly-weighted through ball.
The German buried past Tom Heaton to set Chelsea on their way to victory, but it's Fàbregas' pass, which caught everyone bar Schürrle off-guard, that will be remembered most. Schürrle and Fàbregas were a constant threat in the routine victory that sent the title favourites to the summit of England's top tier after gameweek 1, and the duo have the potential to form a highly effective partnership for the Blues.
Fresh from his World Cup win with Germany, the 23-year-old will be keen to press on from Brazil 2014 this term. Schürrle did not start a game for his national team this summer, with all 6 of his appearances coming from the bench, but he proved his worth to head coach Joachim Löw when called upon. The attacker bagged the opener in the 2-1 win over Algeria and netted a brace in the 7-1 thumping of Brazil. However, his World Cup will be best remembered for the assist for Mario Götze's winner against Argentina to confirm Germany as world champions.
At Burnley on Monday night, the former Bayer Leverkusen ace used the confidence gained from his time with Die Mannschaft to fuel a display in which he was a danger throughout. Schürrle fired away more shots (5) than any other player in the match at Turf Moor, while only Wayne Rooney (6 vs Swansea) had more of every player on the opening weekend of the new season.
After a campaign in which he had no prolonged spell in José Mourinho's starting XI - 15 of his 30 league appearances were as a substitute - Schürrle will be hoping for more league starts this season. His WhoScored rating when starting (7.38) was the fourth highest of all Chelsea players last term, so the German is somewhat deserving of a first-team place from the off.
His WhoScored rating against Burnley (7.51) wasn't the best on the pitch but it was a huge improvement on his rating in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United last season (6.61), his first start of the 2013/14 campaign. With performances like that which he put in against the Clarets, Mourinho will find it hard to overlook his German attacker, especially if he and Fàbregas can consistently link up as well as they did on Monday. The midfielder's three years for Barcelona were largely underwhelming in relation to the standards expected of him, but many feel he is the missing piece in Chelsea's midfield and his debut display for the Blues suggests just that.
Fàbregas' vision and passing ability are his greatest assets and these are exactly why Chelsea spent around £30million to secure his services. Schürrle has the ability to get in behind opposition defences and his directness on the frontline will help bring out the best in both players. Fàbregas created more clear-cut chances (27) than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues last season and with his German teammate making darting runs in behind the back four, the midfielder has the opportunity to match, or even better, this return for Chelsea.
The competition for starting spots in Schürrle's position is high. Mourinho can call on Eden Hazard, Willian and Mohamed Salah to play on the right and left flank and with Hazard a dead cert to start when fit, there are three players effectively battling for one spot. Schürrle, though, will be hoping his performance on Monday helps him leapfrog his rivals in the pecking order.
After being heavily linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer, he now has the chance to really prove himself in the Premier League. Schürrle netted 8 goals last season, 7 of which were scored when he started, so his debut campaign in England was not a disappointment. The Germany international was one of only six players to score a Premier League hat-trick last term and he clearly boasts the goalscoring touch to really push on and become a household name.
With Fàbregas pulling the strings in midfield, Schürrle is likely to have numerous opportunities to better his goal return this term. Despite moving to Barcelona in 2011, the Spaniard has played more accurate through balls (66) than any other player over the course of the last six Premier League seasons. Fàbregas' keen eye for a pass coupled with Chelsea's fluid attack means he will often be presented with the opportunity to play a defence splitting pass.
From a personal perspective, however, Schürrle should thrive with Fàbregas operating behind him. The attacker boasts the required offensive attributes to succeed at Chelsea and with a midfielder, whose passing ability is one of the best in world football, dictating play from deep, fans can look forward to seeing the best of Schürrle this campaign.
Do you think this season will be André Schürrle's breakthrough season in a Chelsea shirt? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com where you can find yet more stats and player ratings.Suggest a correction