The run-in is quickly approaching in the Premier League season, with Bournemouth and Chelsea competing at different ends of the table. The home side are fighting for their lives, with their Premier League status being under threat seriously for the first time since their promotion. Meanwhile, the Blues are being hunted down in 4th position, with Tottenham and Manchester United vying to displace them. In the previous meeting between these two sides, the Cherries ran out surprising winners at Stamford Bridge. If they managed to do the double over the Blues, it would be a huge boost for their survival hopes.
Bournemouth are only two points and two places above the bottom three. It is a worrying position, but few of the teams below them look capable of putting a run together to move up the table. This season, it is likely that the relegation battle will go on until the very end, therefore every point will be valuable. The recent form shown by Eddie Howe’s men is worrying, as they have won three of their last 16 Premier League matches. They have often been praised for their brave style since promotion, but they will need to show battling qualities that we haven’t previously seen to steer clear of danger.
A lot has been written about Chelsea’s 3-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich. However, it shouldn’t encourage the club to move away from the current rebuild under Frank Lampard. The team is in transition and came up against an established European giant. The manner of the defeat wasn’t at all surprising, but it will provide the players with a learning experience. The focus must be to secure their position in the top four and take the rebuild to the next stage over the summer. Their upcoming league fixtures will provide an opportunity for the Blues to finish their campaign with momentum. A win this weekend is crucial to reinstating the positive feeling around the club.
- Bournemouth have won their last two Premier League matches at home, underlining the threat they pose.
- Despite good away form at the start of the season, Chelsea have only won two of their last six on the road.
Ryan Fraser was only used from the bench last weekend, but it is considered that his performances will be key over the rest of the season. The Scottish international is in the final months of his contract and he will be determined to play well ahead of the summer transfer window. There has been a feeling that Eddie Howe has been reluctant to use the winger due to his contractual situation. However, that is secondary to Bournemouth’s battle for survival. Fraser may have shown inconsistency when played this season, but he is arguably the most creative player in the squad. This can be shown by his attacking performances last season. During the 2018/19 campaign, he contributed seven goals and 14 assists. This season, there has been a regression to one goal and three assists. It is clear that off the pitch matters have become a distraction. Despite this, he is the player that can cause problems for opposition sides. His performance level has increased over the past few weeks and he can have success against a ropey Chelsea defence.
Mateo Kovacic was the only Chelsea player to emerge from the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich with praise. Frank Lampard suggested that he looked at home at that level and he is a player that the club will want to build around. Last summer, his permanent transfer went under the radar with many believing that the club only activated the clause due to their ban. However, it is looking to be a great decision as he has been performing at a high level since the start of the season and showing a consistency that he previously didn’t have. During the midweek match, the Croatian made two key passes, completed eight of nine attempted dribbles and seven ball recoveries. The Blues will need him to deliver a similar performance on Saturday, allowing them to dominate the central areas and control proceedings.
It is hoped that Nathan Ake should be passed fit to start against his former club. Jefferson Lerma is a doubt following a knock suffered last weekend.
Chelsea could opt to change back to a four man defence. Marcos Alonso would be one of the players to miss out if that was the case. Tammy Abraham is a doubt, but Callum Hudson-Odoi could return to the squad.
This won’t be an easy match for Chelsea. Bournemouth will place importance on their home form, as it could be the key to staying in the division. They will know that the visitors are at a low point, due to the loss to Bayern Munich and they will take confidence from the earlier meeting this season. That said, the Blues have been better away from home under Lampard and they will be desperate to get back to winning ways. They should have the quality to score goals on the counter attack, as the home side are likely to be positive in their approach. A narrow away win looks the most likely result.
Bournemouth 1-2 Chelsea