Chelsea host Bournemouth on Saturday knowing that they need to take all three points against the struggling south coast side. The Cherries are stuck in the bottom three, having slid down the table after picking up some costly injuries. Can Jose Mourinho’s men win consecutive homes games for the first time this season?
The Blues sit 14th after picking up a point at White Hart Lane last Sunday, and they know this month is their chance to pick up points and move up the table. They face a couple of big away ties, plus matches against some of the struggling sides. They can’t afford to start the New Year miles off the pace and in the bottom half, so a turnaround has to happen pretty quickly if they are to have any chance of making the top four.
They should be able to do that against a team who haven’t won in close to two and a half months. The Cherries have just one away win all season, and that should make them the perfect opponents for Chelsea right now. They need a few confidence boosting results, especially with some big games to come. This could end up being a make or break week for Mourinho.
After the Bournemouth game, the Blues are back in action in midweek, as they host Porto in the Champions League. Avoiding defeat puts them through to the next round, but a loss would see them fall in to the Europa League. That would probably be enough to cost Mourinho his job. Right now, he needs two wins from the next two, or else things could start to go wrong.
Diego Costa is likely to make a return in this game, after he was dropped against Tottenham. While the striker has been far from his best this season, he’s still capable of influencing a game up top, so fans want to see him in the team. Given how Eden Hazard has returned to form, plus Willian’s great season so far, the Spaniard should have plenty of ammunition to get himself a few goals. If he does that, he’ll be straight back into Mourinho’s good books.
This game comes too early for Thibaut Courtois, although the Belgian stopper is expected to make a return sometime this month. John Terry and Ramires both picked up knocks over the past week, and they are doubts for this game. Falcao is back from injury, but it’s unlikely that he’ll get a game here.
Expect to see a more attacking team than the one which frustrated Tottenham, as Jose knows he has to go all out for the win. Don’t expect to see anyone rested for the Porto game, but there will be some changes, as the boss is no longer keeping a settled team after the players’ recent struggles. Whichever side he picks here, he knows they need to go out and win, or else he could be running out of time.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-1