Ben Mee has warned champions elect Chelsea that they’re in for a big surprise if they turn up expecting to roll the Clarets over at Turf Moor.
Antonio Conte’s men are riding high at the top of the Premier League at present, manufacturing a commanding position having moved nine points clear of closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
The Blues, who surrendered their crown to Leicester City last season, have lost just once in 17 games, a sequence that coincided with an unprecedented haul of Manager of the Month awards for their Italian leader, but they take on a Burnley side that have been enjoying the fruits of their labour on home soil.
Burnley, who were 12th in the top flight heading in to gameweek 25, have won 11 games on their own patch this term and seven in succession lately.
“They are the best team in the league at the minute, top of the league at our place it’s a big test to see how far we’ve come. We’ve been looking forward to it and we’re going to go in with no fear and perform like we have in previous games at our place.
“I don’t think they’ll be expecting an easy game. If they are they’ll have a surprise. We’re going to make it as hard for them as possible, we’ll play our own game and make it difficult for them to play.
“I think they’ll have seen teams come to our place and get beaten or have tough games and probably sit up and take notice. I think we’re a different proposition to other teams around the league and we take pride in that for sure.
“We’ve taken the game to a lot of big teams coming to our place this season – City and Liverpool have found it difficult, and that’s what we want to do again on Sunday.”
Mee, though, has been very impressed with what he’s seen from the league leaders throughout the campaign. And he’s fully aware of the challenge that he and his team-mates face.
“The best team in the league coming to our place is the biggest test we’re going to get,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game but one we can relish and enjoy as well.
“I’ve been really impressed. They don’t want to play 800 passes, they can be direct, they do both really well.
“They’ve got some great talent and some really good footballers but they can knock it up to Costa and play from that and knock it in behind as well.
“They test you from every angle. They’re a really good, complete side.
“They’ve got the flair and the grit, the hard work they need. They let the flair players do the job.
“That goes all the way through the team, the work-rate and the fact they have a balance there has helped them this season.”
Diego Costa was introduced to the Premier League two years ago when the Spaniard scored in a 3-1 win against the Clarets under the lights at Turf Moor.
The 28-year-old striker, who made the move from Atletico Madrid for £32m in the summer of 2014, has since netted 47 league goals in 73 starts for Chelsea.
Costa is renowned for his ‘dark arts’, his competitiveness and physicality and the former Manchester City academy player is relishing the battle ahead.
“I think he’s obviously a very good player, one of them who’ll put themselves about as well as having the quality that he shows, and I don’t think he gets as much credit as other players for having that quality,” said the Burnley centre back.
“He’s fantastic on the ball, he’s got a lot of good qualities and it’s going to be a tough test for us but one we’ll relish and enjoy. That’s what you want to do, play against these players and test yourself.”
Mee added: “I like that he’s got that edge about him, and you wouldn’t want to take that away from him. If he’s in your side he’s one you really want on your team and fighting for everything for the group of lads he plays for.
“It adds to the battle because you’re playing against someone who is going to give you a good test and it’s one you enjoy, you’ve got to do the best for yourself and it certainly makes you work harder and try and get the better of him.
“It’s getting the better of the striker you’re up against – there’s been a few good tests this season and I’m sure there’s many more to come. Sunday is going to be a good test and I want to come out on top.”