Chelsea will be looking to build momentum on the back of their FA Cup triumph as they face Bournemouth in a Premier League encounter on Wednesday.
Two managers on the opposite end of the spectrum. Eddie Howe might not be all too elated with the recent form that Bournemouth are in. But, the man is aware of his team’s level and early-season blitz, which he would hope can return on the back of their 2-0 win over West Ham United last gameweek.
For Chelsea, it is a matter of regrouping. Maurizio Sarri was agitated at the performance of his players in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal. The Blues did bounce back to an extent, with a clean win in the FA Cup. But, with Arsenal winning their game, the pressure is on Chelsea to produce a performance and reinstate the three-point gap between themselves and their fifth-placed local rivals.
Chelsea’s last league visit to Dean Court yielded a 1-0 win and Bournemouth will hope they can do better on Wednesday.
We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Lewis Cook, Dominic Solanke and Simon Francis remain sidelined for Bournemouth. Eddie Howe is also sweating over the fitness of key attacking duo Josh King and Callum Wilson. The boss has had more time to prepare for the Chelsea fixture, with the weekend off.
Asmir Begovic is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench again, with Artur Boruc impressing the 2-0 win over West Ham. The back four is more or less sorted, with Nathaniel Clyne, Steven Cook, Nathan Ake and Adam Smith set to take the field. Chris Mepham has trained well, but is likely to be an option on the bench, for now.
David Brooks and Ryan Fraser have dropped off a bit from their early season feasting. But, the duo are still expected to man the wide midfield spots, with Jefferson Lerma certain to start in central midfield. Lewis Cook’s injury all but confirms a start for Dan Gosling alongside Lerma.
In attack, Eddie Howe will be hoping for Josh King and Callum Wilson to be fit and available for selection.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Boruc; Clyne, Cook, Ake, Smith; Brooks, Gosling, Lerma, Fraser; Wilson, King
Maurizio Sarri has finally started to pay heed to the fans. Emerson Palmieri was given an opportunity and his impressive displays are set to ensure a start for him on the left side of the back four, with Marcos Alonso taking his place on the bench. Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz will likely retain their spots.
With Ross Barkley not really producing much to challenge Mateo Kovacic, the Croat is set to start alongside N’Golo Kante and Jorginho in the midfield three. But, Sarri must have made the trio aware that more is expected of them, especially from Jorginho, who has been kept quiet too often by the oppositions in recent matches.
Gonzalo Higuain is earmarked to receive his league debut, with Eden Hazard certain to start on the left. This leaves Pedro and Willian to contend for the last spot in attack, with the Spaniard likely to be preferred.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Higuain, Hazard
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.75
2. Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.10
1. Correct Scoreline – Bournemouth 1-1 Chelsea @ 8.00
1. Bournemouth have a contrasting home and away record in the 2018-19 Premier League. The Cherries average almost two goals a game at home (21 in 12) while they have only managed to score 8 goals in 11 away Premier League matches so far this season.
2. In their last three meetings in all competitions, at least one team has kept a clean sheet in each game.
3. Chelsea have failed to score more than twice in their last 10 Premier League games.
4. There is yet to be a red card in a Premier League match involving Chelsea this season.
5. Eden Hazard has directly contributed to eight goals in his last eight games against Bournemouth in all competitions.
Player to Watch
No other player to watch right now. AC Milan’s decision to replace Higuain with Genoa striker Krzysztof Piatek has already started paying dividends, with the forward scoring a brace on his first start for the Rossoneri. It is up to Higuain now to prove Chelsea that their part of the gamble has paid off, with the Blues allowing Alvaro Morata to be moved off their books.
The Chelsea attack needs a bit of rejuvenation and precision, all of which Higuain can provide. The striker was kept quite during the weekend, but will be hoping to strike a chord with Eden Hazard in attack. If the two do manage to be on song together, it could create quite a partnership for Chelsea going forward.
Bournemouth 1-1 Chelsea
Bournemouth have a good record at home this season, despite their recent struggles. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s recent away form is not something to boast upon, with three wins and as many losses in their last six away games. All in all, the match is expected to be a tightly contested one.
Chelsea are likely to be more successful going forward, with Gonzalo Higuain expected to open his account on his debut. For Bournemouth, it will likely come down to whether Eddie Howe has Josh King and Callum Wilson available for the match. Should the duo start, we could see the home side earn a positive result on Wednesday.
Higuain is expected to get his first Premier League goal but may have to wait a while for his first league win as a Chelsea player.