Chelsea are back in the top four in the Premier League, and they’ll want to hang on to that when they travel south on Saturday evening. The Blues head to Bournemouth this weekend, a ground where they have a perfect record in Premier League matches. Having seen off an impressive Watford side at the weekend, the Blues will be hoping for another three points to keep their season on track. However, in order to do that they’ll need to improve on last weekend’s showing.
The champions need to fix their issues, with many trying to compare this season to their dismal time under Jose Mourinho in 2015. That title defence was rocky from the outset, but it’s hard to draw too many comparisons. After all, but Blues are only three points worse off this time around than they were at this stage last season. They were fourth at this stage last term too, with Manchester City leading the way at the top. Plenty changed over the following 29 matches, could the same happen this season?
Team News: Could Watford Win Lead to Formation Change?
The Blues had success after making changes against Watford, which involved getting Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard on the pitch together. The Blues could try and find a way of including those three behind Alvaro Morata here to switch things up, but that would involve a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 with Hazard playing centrally. It would be a big change from Conte from the start, but he’ll want to get the Belgian as involved in the game as possible. The Blues are going to be without N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater once again this weekend, which leaves Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko as the only two options in central midfield.
Bournemouth aren’t likely to make many changes after picking up a vital three points on Saturday. Having seen off Stoke at the Bet365 Arena, it’s hard to see Eddie Howe going out of his way to make changes for this one. He may be tempted to add a little more resilience to his side ahead of a clash with the defending champions, especially after the Blues scored four times without playing well on Saturday. Two notable names who are likely to start in this one are former Blues Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake. The pair left Stamford Bridge for the south coast in the summer, and now they’re set to face off with their former side.
The Cherries are struggling at home of late, with just one home win in their last four matches. A victory at Stoke on Saturday failed to take the Cherries out of the drop zone, and they’re left in the bottom two. There’s no pressure on Eddie Howe despite their strong start, he has even been linked with the Everton job following Ronald Koeman’s departure.
The Cherries have lost six of their nine matches overall, which would be cause for panic for most sides. Only Crystal Palace’s dismal start has prevented the Cherries from sitting bottom, so Chelsea should be able to take advantage of Howe’s side. While the club should stabilise over the coming weeks, there are serious issues for Bournemouth to deal with right now.
Bournemouth v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea have won the last three meetings between these two sides, following a shock 1-0 loss to the Cherries at Stamford Bridge in 2015. That was part of their awful title defence, which must raise alarm bells ahead of this clash. Given the rate that the Blues are conceding goals, they are likely to slip up to this Bournemouth attack once again.
- Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea, Apr 2017
- Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth, Dec 2016
- Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea, Apr 2016
- Chelsea 0-1 Bournemouth, Dec 2015
- Over 2.5 goals – 7/10 with BetVictor
- Eden Hazard to score anytime – 17/10 with Betfair
Chelsea come in to this game at 4/7 with Bet365 to take all three points and they are worthy favourites. That said, they should be slightly longer given their recent struggles, which could affect them in this trip. The draw here can be backed at 3/1 with Ladbrokes, while Bournemouth are out at 9/2 with Betfred for the points. Can the Cherries cause an upset at the Vitality, or will the Blues build on their win over Watford? Conte can’t really afford another slip up here, which would mean they’ve lost to both of the current bottom two. That would be a real blow to their title defence.
Chelsea’s recent defensive issues could give Bournemouth a chance here, and that’s exactly why we’re avoiding siding with the Blues in the match betting. The champions have made too many sloppy errors at the back, which should see Bournemouth get a goal here. The Cherries have scored in three of their four meetings with Chelsea, including both their clashes at the Vitality. However, the Blues have won 7-2 here on aggregate in their two trips, so we expect to see plenty of goals in this game. We’re backing over 2.5 goals in this clash, which has landed in every Chelsea away game this season. It looks like great value at 7/10 with BetVictor.
While the late fightback against Watford saw plenty of Chelsea players come out with credit, one man who didn’t was Hazard. The Belgian did get an early assist, but he was left out of the late fightback for the most part. He should get a chance to make up for that this weekend, given that he tends to enjoy playing against Bournemouth. The Cherries haven’t got the best record against the Belgian winger, conceding four goals in their last three meetings with him. With the possibility of Hazard moving into a central role, we are backing him to score any time at 17/10 with Betfair.