Chelsea travel to the South Coast this weekend to face an improving Bournemouth team. They have yet to hit top form and are already behind the pace in their title defence, but the last week has provided them with positive momentum heading into November. Antonio Conte’s men dominated this fixture last season winning both meetings between the two clubs. In the corresponding fixture, the Blues won 3-1 with Adam Smith (OG), Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso on the scoresheet for them, while Josh King netted for the home side.
Bournemouth have had a poor start to the season and find themselves in the bottom three at this early stage. Like Chelsea, they have built some momentum over the last seven days with back-to-back victories. Last weekend, they earned three points away from home with an assured performance against Stoke City. A win away from home in the Premier League shouldn’t be looked down on and Eddie Howe will be delighted to have achieved that at the Bet365 Stadium. They then qualified for the quarter-finals of Carabao Cup with a win over Middlesbrough and that competition offers a real chance of winning a trophy for the Cherries if they take it seriously. They won’t be expected to win this weekend, but it is crucial that they deliver a good performance on Saturday.
The Blues are currently positioned in fourth and they will be hoping for a run of wins to close the gap on the sides above them. Manchester City are already nine points clear of the champions and playing some incredible football. It looks difficult for Antonio Conte’s team to retain their trophy at this stage, but they have a lot of quality and they remain a force at the top of the division. There would have been greater concerns if they had lost to Watford last weekend, but they turned it around thanks to a cameo from Michy Batshuayi. Chelsea then followed this up with a narrow victory over Everton in the Carabao Cup. It is important to retain that momentum with another win this weekend.
Jermain Defoe is a major doubt for this weekend, but Callum Wilson could make his first Premier League appearance of the season after making his comeback during the week. Brad Smith, Tyrone Mings and Adam Federici remain on the sidelines for the Cherries.
Victor Moses continues to struggle with a hamstring injury and his return date is unknown at the time of writing. N’Golo Kane will be back for the beginning of November, but the trip to the Vitality Stadium will come too soon for him.
- Callum Wilson scored his first goal since January as he returned earlier this week against Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup.
- Cesar Azpilicueta has been involved in five goals this Premier League season, which is more than any other defender.
Andrew Surman has been one of the standout players for Bournemouth this season and played a key role in their victory over Stoke City with an assured finish from the edge of the area. He is comfortable in possession, as shown by his pass success rate of 82.2% and it will be important that he is intelligent with the ball this weekend to give his side a chance of success on Saturday. In addition to being good on the ball, Surman can dig in and win possession back as displayed by his 1.9 ball recoveries per game. Against Chelsea, it will be crucial that he gets forward to support the attacks as Bournemouth’s strikers will be outnumbered by the visitor’s back three. The 31-year-old has scored in both of the Cherries’ victories this season and they will need him to be at his best this weekend if the home side are to win.
The Chelsea attack is often focused on Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata being the stars, but Pedro has been consistent in his productivity during the last 12 months. Antonio Conte is a huge fan of the Spaniard and he will be a regular first-team starter again this season. He showed his ability last weekend with an excellent finish to give the Blues an early lead. The match wasn’t as simple as the opening stages suggested, but Pedro will be pleased with his individual contribution. The former Barcelona man is currently averaging 1.58 chances created and 3.16 shots per ninety minutes. He is a constant threat in the final third and it is his movement that makes him so dangerous. As would be expected from a player with his CV, he is intelligent and takes up good positions to cause most damage. Bournemouth don’t have a reliable defence and their focus will likely be on Hazard and Morata. This will open space to Pedro and the Spanish international has the quality to make them pay.
This is going to be a good test of Chelsea and their title credentials as Bournemouth are in a good run of form. The home side go into this weekend with nothing to lose and all the pressure will be on the champions. Although Antonio Conte’s men have been winning matches, they haven’t been delivering dominant performances and their defence remains an issue. They haven’t kept a clean sheet for over a month and that is very unusual for a team coached by Conte. He will be frustrated with that, but the absence of Kante is partly to blame. No other midfielder in the squad can carry out the role that he has made his own since moving to England. The Blues should have enough in attack to win the game, but the home side should get on the score-sheet.
Bournemouth 1-2 Chelsea