Chelsea v Bournemouth, Sat 3pm, Dec 14th, Premier League
Match preview by Will Reilly.
A patchy spell ended well for Chelsea on Tuesday. Seven-successive wins in all competitions were followed by four defeats and just four wins in ten matches.
Worryingly poor performances in defeats at home (1-0) against West Ham and away (3-1) at Everton had left nerves a little frayed and head coach Frank Lampard’s mood considerably less effusive.
However, a 2-1 win at home to Lille on Tuesday, one that took them through to the Round Of 16 stage of the Champions League, ought to have steadied the ship and restored confidence.
They will need to keep that going against a troubled Bournemouth, who, with a squad riddled by injuries, have lost their last five league matches and have won just one of their last ten. It is not an easy time for head coach Eddie Howe.
As mentioned earlier, Chelsea’s form has become patchy. Six-successive league wins have been followed by three defeats in their last four matches. Also, following their 2-1 win over Lille on Tuesday, Chelsea have kept just four clean sheets in the 25 matches they have played this season. In 18 of the 25, both teams have scored.
Chelsea have won just four of their eight home league matches played so far this season, but they have scored in 23 of the 25 games they’ve played.
Tammy Abraham leads the way on the scoring chart this season with 11 Premier League goals (in 14 starts) and 13 goals (in 19 games) in all competitions.
As mentioned earlier, Bournemouth are on a poor run and will be looking to avert a sixth-successive Premier League defeat. Furthermore, they have won just one of their last ten Premier League matches, although no one has really given them a battering (14 goals conceded in those ten matches).
Confidence will, though, be falling and yet another injury (see list below) had to be endured as key defender Nathan Ake limped off with a hamstring injury against Liverpool last Saturday.
Furthermore, Bournemouth have failed to score in five of their last nine matches, and the only time they scored more than one in those nine games was in the 3-2 defeat at Spurs.
HEAD TO HEADS:
Since Bournemouth got promoted to the Premier League in 2015, the scores at Stamford Bridge in the league have been 0-1, 3-0, 0-3 and 2-0, which makes it two victories apiece.
Home and away, though, during that time, Chelsea have won five times and lost on three occasions, so there has not been a draw between the sides since Bournemouth’s return to the top flight of English football, which includes two EFL Cup meetings.
Ross Barkley and Antonio Rüdiger are fit again, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles) is still not ready to return. Rüdiger played on Tuesday and, undoubtedly, Chelsea are stronger with him in the side.
Other Chelsea absentees are Fikayo Tomori (hip), Olivier Giroud (ankle) and Marco van Ginkel (long-term knee injury).
As if it wasn’t enough to lose Nathan Ake last week to a hamstring injury, news broke on Wednesday that David Brooks will be out for a further three months following a second ankle operation.
They join seven other players with injury problems – Callum Wilson (hamstring), Steve Cook (broken wrist), Adam Smith (ankle), Josh King (hamstring), Lloyd Kelly (thigh), Junior Stanislas (knee) and Charlie Daniels (knee).
VERDICT / TIPS:
Chelsea could hardly have wished for a better fixture following on from their Champions League high on Tuesday. Much as Bournemouth’s recent record against Chelsea is good, their long injury-list counts against them and will probably mean that they are in a for a long afternoon at Stamford Bridge.