This weekend Bournemouth will host the Champions-elect Chelsea after an impressive performance at Anfield in a bid to repeat their mid-week heroics against the best team in the country.
The Cherries have had very good season so far. Eddie Howe’s side have played impressive football and despite the few inconsistent results they find themselves in a healthy position in the league – just two points off ninth placed arch rivals Southampton. Their struggles in early 2017 have largely subsided now that the home team are on a healthy run of form – five games without a defeat including draws against Manchester United and Liverpool. But with Chelsea in town determined to get 3 of 18 points they would need to mathematically seal the league title, it will be fascinating to see if Eddie Howe can achieve another big result in what has been a good week.
For Chelsea, now that there is a definitive target, a certain number of points to ensure Conte’s first league title in England in his fantastic debut campaign, they simply need to sustain their focus and remain single-minded. After a shock defeat at home to Allardyce’s Crystal Palace, the Blues picked themselves up to edge Manchester City in a 2-1 win that helped them maintain their seven point lead over Tottenham Hotspur. High on confidence on the back of four wins in the last five and with the best record away from home in the league, Antonio Conte will hope to avoid any more setbacks for the West London club before lifting their second league title in three years.
Bournemouth will miss the services of Tyrone Mings who is serving his suspension while Callum Wilson, Andrew Surman and Adam Federeci are still out for the visit of the Blues.
Chelsea have not suffered any fresh injuries and will hence be able to name a strong squad with the exception of Victor Moses who has yet to fully recover from his calf injury prior to the International break.
- These clubs have met seven times previously, Chelsea winning five and Bournemouth two
- Both teams have scored only once in those seven matches
- Chelsea have not kept a clean sheet in their last eight Premier League games
Key Men Comparison
Jack Wilshere (Bournemouth) v Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Jack Wilshere may not have opened his account for the Cherries, but he is still one of the most important players in the squad and the way Eddie Howe wants his side to play football – on the ground, with emphasis on vertical movement and attacking football.
With 2 assists to his name, the England International is one of the best passers in the side and his ability to create chances from open play to Afobe and King who have started to gel together, will be key for them to have any chance of stopping the visitors.
Diego Costa has had a very good season for Chelsea, in many ways. For one, he has scored 17 goals in 28 appearances (all starts) in the league and could well be on his way to crossing the 20-mark for the second time in three campaigns.
But in the grand scheme of things, he has been remarkable in leading the line, bringing players like Hazard and Pedro into the picture, been one of the key players behind Chelsea’s absurdly good conversion rate which stands at 24% (approx) across the season, well above the league average. If he could keep that up for the next few weeks, then there is a possibility that we could be talking about Conte’s first piece of silverware in England as early as the end of April/start of May.
With all due respect to Bournemouth, cannot see past a ruthless Chelsea win.
Bournemouth 0-2 Chelsea