BURNLEY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Robbie Brady of Burnley closes down Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor on February 12, 2017 in Burnley, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

4 Key Battles That Could Decide Chelsea and Burnley's Premier League Opening Match on Saturday

After a summer of intolerable awkward silences between friends in pubs, the English Premier League is mercifully making its glorious return to our lives this weekend, with Chelsea and Burnley squaring off on Saturday afternoon.

Both sides will be looking to start their campaigns brightly, ahead of what will undoubtedly be another season of twists and turns in an increasingly competitive league.

Thanks to a rather bewildering summer of player exits from Chelsea, the defending champions go into the match with just 14 senior plays available to them. Antonio Conte's men will certainly have their work cut out if they are to replicate the glories of their previous campaign.

Burnley developed a reputation as a hardy bunch last season, finishing in 16th position thanks to their resilient home performances. Sean Dyche's side will be desperate to establish themselves as a regular Premier League side, and surviving the drop again is a must for the Clarets.

Here are four key battles that could decide the match at Stamford Bridge...

1. Willian vs Matthew Lowton

With Chelsea star Eden Hazard still recovering from ankle surgery, Willian will be given an opportunity to terrorise the Burnley back-line on Saturday.

Matthew Lowton is likely to play at right-back for Burnley, and will need to be at his best to keep out the fast-dribbinling Brazilian.

Willian remains a highly underrated player at Chelsea, and he will be determined to prove himself as a contender for a regular starting spot. Lowton is a reliable defender, but will certainly have a busy afternoon against the speedy winger.

2. Robbie Brady vs César Azpilicueta

Robbie Brady has become a real fan's favourite since arriving at Turf Moore in last January's transfer window - adding some real dynamism to an otherwise gritty squad of players.

César Azpilicueta was the unsung hero of Chelsea's central back-three last season, but is likely to start in the wing-back position on Saturday, in the absence of the suspended Victor Moses.

Azpilicueta made his name as right-back, but will be rusty in the position after playing as a centre-back under Antonio Conte last season. Brady will be used as a counter-attacking weapon, and will look to catch the Spaniard out whenever possible.

3. Àlvaro Morata vs Ben Mee

Stepping into the shoes of fiery striker Diego Costa is a going to be tough ask for £70m man Àlvaro Morata, who is likely to make his Premier League debut for Chelsea on Saturday.

Ben Mee has been a reliable centre-back for the Clarets for seven seasons now, but may struggle without his excellent former defensive partner Michael Keane alongside him - who joined Everton earlier in the summer.

Morata will be desperate to start his Chelsea career with a goal, especially after missing a shoot-out penalty in his side's Community Shield to Arsenal last Sunday. Mee will be instructed to stick to Morata like glue, but the former Real Madrid man may well come out on top in their battle.

4. Sam Vokes vs Antonio Rüdiger

With Andre Gray now a Watford player, Sam Vokes will be the main man up-top for Burnley this season. The Welshman's goalscoring record is far from fantastic in the Premier League, but his desire to show boss Sean Dyche that he doesn't need to buy a replacement for Gray could spur him on to new goalscoring heights.

Antonio Rüdiger is set to make his Chelsea debut in Saturday's match, and will have been working hard in training to adapt to Antonio Conte's favoured back-three system. The German international is a robust and fierce centre-back, strong enough to battle with the bulky striker.

Vokes is unlikely to have a host of chances in the match, and will need to finish clinically if he is to snatch a goal for his side.