Chelsea will be looking to strengthen their hold on the fourth place in the Premier League table when they face off against Bournemouth this weekend.

Chelsea will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways after their midweek debacle in the Champions League when they lock horns with relegation battlers Bournemouth in matchweek 28 of the 2019-20 Premier League at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

Chelsea were handed a 3-0 thrashing by German champions Bayern Munich earlier this week. The manner of defeat will have hurt the Blues and they will want to produce a strong reaction this weekend. Frank Lampard’s men are fourth in the league table, three points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United and will want to widen that gap with a win this weekend.

Bournemouth, on the other hand, find themselves perilously close to the relegation zone. Eddie Howe’s side are 16th in the table, just two points above the drop zone. Coming into the game on the back of consecutive defeats against Sheffield United and Burnley, the Cherries will want to get back on track and put some distance between themselves and the bottom three.

The reverse fixture played in December at Stamford Bridge saw Bournemouth defeat Chelsea 1-0 courtesy a late Dan Gosling strike. And ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Bournemouth

Ake set to return against his former club (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Ake set to return against his former club (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Eddie Howe and Bournemouth continue to be blighted by injury issues ahead of Chelsea’s visit, with the Cherries set to be without Chris Mepham, David Brooks, Charlie Daniels, Lloyd Kelly and Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld. There is some good news, though, as former Chelsea ace Nathan Ake has recovered from his injury and is in line to return, while Jefferson Lerma could also be back.

Aaron Ramsdale is the undisputed choice in goal for Bournemouth for Saturday’s clash, while Adam Smith should slot in at right-back, having played as a left-back in the last game. Diego Rico, who missed the Burnley clash, should return at left-back. Pairing up at the heart of the Cherries’ defence should be Steve Cook and Ake.

The three-man midfield unit for the hosts should not see any changes, with Philip Billing starting alongside seasoned campaigners Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman. Billing will be encouraged to get forward and try to influence things in the final third, while Gosling and Surman are likely to sit deep and disrupt Chelsea’s rhythm.

On-loan Liverpool forward Harry Wilson has had a decent season with Bournemouth and should get the nod on the right flank, whereas Joshua King is expected to hold on to his spot on the left ahead of Ryan Fraser. Spearheading the attack for the home team on Saturday should be Callum Wilson, with former Chelsea academy ace Dominic Solanke an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Smith, Cook, Ake, Rico; Gosling, Surman, Billing; Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson, King

Chelsea

Chelsea have been handed a fresh injury blow heading into the clash as Tammy Abraham has been sidelined with another ankle injury, having returned from a similar issue not very long ago. The Englishman joins Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante out on the sidelines, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is also unlikely to be fit for the weekend encounter.

Abraham out injured again (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Abraham out injured again (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Lampard is likely to revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation after having set his team up with a three-man backline in the last two matches. In goal, Willy Caballero is expected to continue ahead of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Reece James, who endured a tough game against Bayern last time out, should slot in at right-back while captain Cesar Azpilicueta starts as the left-back with Marcos Alonso dropping out. Andreas Christensen is expected to be retained in defence, but Antonio Rudiger could make way for Kurt Zouma on Saturday, while Fikayo Tomori is also an option.

There is no looking past the duo of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in midfield for Chelsea. The latter, especially, was one of the few positives for the Blues against Bayern and will look to build on that performance at the Vitality. Mason Mount should get the nod in the No. 10 role ahead of Ross Barkley, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could make an appearance from the bench.

With Abraham definitively ruled out, Olivier Giroud should once again start in the centre-forward slot for Chelsea. Flanking him on either side should be the experienced duo of Willian and Pedro, both of whom have not started Chelsea’s last two fixtures.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Caballero; James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Mount, Willian; Giroud

Key Stats

  • None of the nine previous Premier League meetings between Bournemouth and Chelsea have been drawn (4 wins for Bournemouth, 5 for Chelsea), with the away side winning six of the nine games (67%).
  • Bournemouth have won three of their last four Premier League meetings with Chelsea (L1), including the last two in a row. They are looking to complete the league double over Chelsea for the very first time.
  • Chelsea are looking to secure consecutive Premier League victories for the first time since a run of six between September-November. The Blues are still winless away from home in the Premier League in 2020 (D2 L1).
  • Since they were promoted to the division in 2015, only Manchester City have won (6) and kept more clean sheets (5) in the Premier League against Chelsea than Bournemouth (4 wins, 4 clean sheets).
  • Chelsea have conceded 45% of the shots on target they’ve faced in the Premier League this season (37/83), more than any other side. Indeed, it’s the highest such ratio any side has conceded in a single season since this data is available (2003-04).

Player to Watch

Olivier Giroud

All eyes will be on Olivier Giroud (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

All eyes will be on Olivier Giroud (Photo by Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

Having been hardly used throughout the campaign by Frank Lampard, Olivier Giroud suddenly finds himself in the spotlight owing to Tammy Abraham’s injury problems. The French World Cup winner scored his first Premier League goal of the season against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and had a fairly decent outing against Bayern Munich in midweek.

Set to start again on Saturday, Giroud will be hoping to help Chelsea get back to winning ways. The Frenchman enjoys a healthy record against Bournemouth having been involved in five goals in his three league starts against Bournemouth (1 goal, 4 assists). An important game beckons for the veteran striker.

Prediction

Bournemouth 1-1 Chelsea

Bournemouth seemed to be on the road to recovery, only to slump to back-to-back defeats against Sheffield United and Burnley. However, they did win their last two league games at home and having already defeated Chelsea this season, they will back themselves to put up a solid fight on Saturday.

Chelsea will be licking their wounds from the hammering they received in midweek at the hands of Bayern Munich. Moreover, the last time they visited the South Coast club, they were handed a 4-0 defeat. And although the Blues have fared better away from home under Frank Lampard, things will not be straightforward for them.

On paper, Chelsea should be the favourites going into the contest, but Tammy Abraham’s absence could cripple Lampard’s side while the defeat earlier this week will have deflated their confidence as well. And hence, we at The Hard Tackle are backing Bournemouth to hold the Blues to a draw and get a point from this game.

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