Reigning champions Chelsea host AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge tonight in matchday 25 of the Premier League.

Antonio Conte’s men are currently third on the League table, three points ahead of Liverpool and 3 points behind Manchester United. AFC Bournemouth on the other hand, are 12th on the table. They have 25 points to their name and are only 3 points away from the relegation zone.

These two sides have faced each other twice before this season, with the Blues coming out on top on both occasions. Chelsea won both games by a margin of 1 goal, once in the EFL Cup and the other in the reverse fixture in the Premier League.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Willian, David Luiz and Alvaro Morata are all unavailable for tonight’s tie as they are nursing injuries, while Michy Batshuayi’s availability depends on whether he is required to travel to seal a move elsewhere.

Cesc Fabregas and Thibaut Courtois have recovered from their respective injuries and will be available to face the Cherries tonight. The Belgian is expected to return directly into the starting lineup and replace the Argentine Willy Caballero in goal.

Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to replace Andreas Christensen, and join Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger in defence.  Victor Moses will likely be brought back into right wingback ahead of Davide Zappacosta, with Marcos Alonso setting up shop on the opposite flank.

N’golo Kante will likely be joined by Tiemoue Bakayoko, who was left out of the squad altogether for their midweek match against Newcastle United. Cesc Fabregas might not be risked from the start, given that he has only just returned from injury.

Ross Barkley may get to start tonight, slotting in between Kante and Bakayoko in an attacking midfield role, while Pedro will likely start alongside Eden Hazard upfront and lead the line for the Blues in case Michy Batshuayi isn’t available.

Probable Starting XI(3-5-2): Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Antonio Rudiger; Victor Moses, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ross Barkley, Ngolo Kante, Marcos Alonso; Eden Hazard, Pedro

Chelsea vs AFC Bournemouth(2)

AFC Bournemouth

Eddie Howe is only expected to miss out on the services of Jermain Defoe and Tyrone Mings. Joshua King and Junior Stanislas are both likely to be available for selection and the former is expected to start in attack tonight.

Asmir Begovic will retain his place in goal, with Nathan Ake, Steve Cook and Simon Francis expected to start in a back three. Howe will likely retain the 3-4-1-2 formation for this match as well, having used it against West Ham on Saturday.

Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels are also expected to start at wingback, with Dan Gosling and Lewis Cook starting in central midfield. Joshua King will likely join Jordon Ibe in attack, replacing Ryan Fraser in the squad, with Calum Wilson leading the line once again.

Probable Starting XI(3-4-2-1): Asmir Begovic; Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Nathan Ake; Adam Smith, Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling, Charlie Daniels; Jordon Ibe, Joshua King; Callum Wilson

Chelsea vs AFC Bournemouth(1)

Key Statistics

  • Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has scored 5 goals in his last 4 games matches against Bournemouth.
  • AFC Bournemouth have failed to score in 3 of their last 5 matches at Stamford Bridge.
  • In 6 games against Chelsea in all competitions, Bournemouth have won only 1, losing the rest.
  • In that time, Chelsea have scored 13 goals, while Bournemouth have managed only 4.
  • AFC Bournemouth have never scored more than 1 goal in a match against Chelsea.

Player To Watch

Chelsea: Ross Barkley

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Ross Barkley of Chelsea during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Newcastle United on January 28, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Ross Barkley during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match against Newcastle United on January 28, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Picture Courtesy – Getty Images)

Barkley has scored 3 goals and registered 3 assists in a mere 5 games against Bournemouth in all competitions and all eyes will still be on the Englishman should he take to the pitch tonight in the hopes that he would build on the promise he showed in his first two performances for the Blues.

A goal or even an assist, will definitely do wonders for his confidence and only speed up his recovery process. The fans and Antonio Conte will certainly want to see him open his Chelsea account as soon as possible and what better place to do it than at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Prediction

Chelsea 2-1 AFC Bournemouth

We predict a tense, narrow victory for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tonight. The Cherries haven’t been in the best form off late and will be coming up a side with a tremendous amount of quality in their ranks. However, Chelsea have a number of injuries to deal with in their squad and that won’t make easy against a determined Bournemouth side who will be looking to avenge the two losses from earlier in the season.

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