This weekend is a big game for Chelsea as they host out-of-form Bournemouth. The Blues have started the season well, with a five point lead over Manchester United in fifth position. They pre-season ambitions of finishing in the top four look to be secure at this stage. However, three defeats in four Premier League matches have caused doubt among supporters. They can’t afford to drop any more points this weekend with a need to consolidate their own position.
The recent weeks have brought news that Chelsea will be able to buy players next month. Frank Lampard was expecting to go through to the end of the season with the current squad, but there is now a temptation to strengthen. The rumours suggest that they may look to bring a creative attacking player into the squad. It may be that the transfer ban being uplifted is a positive for the coming matches, as current players have more incentive to perform and secure their own place. Christian Pulisic, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi will be three that need to show a consistent level of performance. Rotation should be expected over the coming weeks, with a number of players desperate to play their part.
Bournemouth are heading towards a relegation battle for the first time in their Premier League history. The Cherries are normally very efficient at steering clear of the dog fight at the bottom of the table, but that seems unlikely this year. They are only one point above the bottom three, with injuries to contend with over the festive period. Eddie Howe is a highly-respected coach, but this is a big test of his ability, as he needs to work under the pressure of a losing run and precarious league position. They have lost their last five Premier League matches and failed to score in their last two.
Chelsea have lost three of their last four Premier League matches. They only lost that many in their previous 20 in the competition.
Bournemouth are currently on their worst run in Premier League history with five successive defeats.
The end of the year is approaching and it has been a memorable one for Tammy Abraham. The young striker has managed to break into the first team at Chelsea. He is now a key member of the starting eleven, with many considering him as one of the best strikers in the Premier League. The stats certainly back that up, as he has scored 11 goals and averages an expected goals of 0.69 per ninety minutes. This underlines his consistency and goal threat, which has been a welcome addition to the Chelsea squad. Last season, Olivier Giroud, Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain all showed some flashes of ability, but none managed to supply the consistent goals required by a top four team. Abraham is on course to score more than 20 goals. Few would bet against him reaching that landmark in his first full season as a Blues’ first team regular. This weekend offers a good opportunity for the forward to get among the goals against a struggling Bournemouth team with defensive injuries.
Harry Wilson has been an excellent signing by Bournemouth and the Cherries will be hoping to make the deal permanent in 2020. Liverpool may have some resistance to that, as the Welsh international is proving his ability in the Premier League. This weekend offers him an opportunity to show his ability against a top-six team. It is in these matches that he needs to shine in order to convince Jurgen Klopp that he is a viable squad option for the Reds. During his loan spell, he has scored six Premier League goals, including a couple of memorable strikes. However, there has been some doubt cast regarding his overall contribution and there are other areas of his game that need to improve over the coming months. As a midfielder, he will be hoping to add creativity and assists to his game. Wilson sat out of the game against parent club Liverpool, therefore it is likely he will be brought back in this weekend. His individual brilliance to create a chance from nothing makes him a big threat to Chelsea.
Fikayo Tomori is a doubt for the home side, but Antonio Rudiger could make his Premier League return. Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains on the sidelines.
Bournemouth are in the midst of a big injury crisis, with Nathan Ake, Adam Smith and Callum Wilson all joining those on the sidelines. Josh King could return, but the Cherries remain with a limited squad available.
Chelsea should have enough to take three points, despite their recent blip in the Premier League. The players will be boosted by their progression in the Champions League and they are coming up against a poor team on Saturday. Bournemouth look a shadow of their former selves and it would be difficult to see them taking anything from Stamford Bridge. It could be a rare convincing home victory for the Blues.
Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth