Chelsea got their title challenge back on track following a 2-1 win over Manchester City in midweek. Can the Premier League leaders build on that when they travel to Bournemouth? Antonio Conte has demanded that his team hit the 90 point mark this season, which would mathematically seal the title for them. Tottenham are showing no signs of choking as yet, so the Blues need to take their challenge seriously for now. However, Spurs have a history of bottling things and a much tougher run in, so they’re likely to ultimately fall short of glory once again.
The Blues will be counting on all their experience in the final eight games of the campaign, starting at the Vitality Stadium. While it seems like a straightforward affair, it’s a potentially tricky one. Bournemouth are just coming back in to form after a poor run of results, and they’re likely to trouble the Blues defence here, given their strong scoring record at home. This is another potential banana skin for Conte and his team, and they’ll all be out to avoid another slip up this weekend.
Team News: Conte needs right-wing reshuffle
Chelsea haven’t had to deal with many injury problems all season, but something was always going to hit their stability eventually. Who’d have thought that the absence of Victor Moses would prove to be a huge issue? The right wing-back has no real replacement, with Pedro struggling there against Palace. Cesar Azpilicueta played there for 45 minutes against City, but he was moved centrally once Kurt Zouma came off. Conte is hoping that the Nigerian can recover in time for this trip, but if he doesn’t it’s likely that Azpilicueta will be moved once again. Pedro’s struggles from the start against Palace should keep him further up the pitch.
Bournemouth are without the suspended Tyrone Mings, while forward Callum Wilson is injured ahead of this game. Aside from that, the hosts are set to have their strongest side out, as they look to push into the top half of the table. The Cherries have been lining up in a 4-4-2 of late, which they occasionally switch to a 4-4-1-1. The Blues’ back three should have enough to deal with that attack, and it leaves the two sides evenly matched in midfield.
Bournemouth come into this game on the back of a 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Wednesday night, claiming their fourth point against the Reds this season. They’ve drawn three of their last five matches, but that’s an improvement on their early 2017 run of form. Having recorded one draw and six defeats in seven, their recent unbeaten run has been a huge relief for manager Eddie Howe, moving the Cherries away from the drop zone.
Bournemouth have claimed wins over West Ham and Swansea in recent home games, which has helped them push up the table and move towards the top half. They troubled Arsenal in a home game late last year, going 3-0 up before slipping to a 3-3 draw. However, a 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester City shows that the Cherries can’t quite mix it with the best in current form. They’re mostly picking off sides below them as they push for survival.
Bournemouth v Chelsea Head to Head
There have been just three recent meetings between these two sides, and they didn’t get off to the best of starts for the Blues. A 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge was part of Jose Mourinho’s tough third season here. Guus Hiddink avenged that defeat by winning 4-1 in their only trip to the Vitality, before a 3-0 win earlier this season kept up the Blues’ brilliant winning run after their tactical switch. Can they record a third straight victory when they travel to the south coast this weekend?
- Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth, Dec 2016
- Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea, Apr 2016
- Chelsea 0-1 Bournemouth, Dec 2015
- Both teams to score – 10/11 with Betfred
- Chelsea to win & BTTS – 12/5 with Coral
Chelsea can be backed at 3/5 with Sky Bet ahead of the late game on Saturday. The hosts are 6/1 outsiders with Betfair, while BetVictor price the draw at 16/5. The league leaders are clearly expected to avoid a slip-up in consecutive weekends, but will they get over the line against the Cherries? Having conceded in both meetings last term, it’s easy to see Thibaut Courtois being troubling in the Blues net once again, given how exposed he has been in recent weeks. All of a sudden, the defenders in front of him are looking a little unreliable.
Obviously there’s a possible selection worry at the back for Antonio Conte, but the problems date back much further than Moses’ injury. It’s now eight straight league games without a clean sheet for the leaders, which is a worrying run of form. They take on a Bournemouth side who scored twice at Anfield on Wednesday, one who score 1.73 goals per game at home this season. They’ve found the net in 80% of their home league outings, and we expect another goal for the Cherries. We’re backing both teams to score for the ninth straight occasion for the Blues in the Premier League, and that’s priced at 10/11 with Betfred.
While the Blues are likely to concede again, we can’t see that stopping them from taking maximum points. They can’t afford to slip up with Tottenham in hot pursuit of top spot, and their manager has demanded six wins from the final eight games of the season. We’re backing the visitors to win and concede in this game, something they’ve made a habit of after their recent poor showings at the back. The Blues haven’t won a league game to nil since January, so we’re backing Chelsea to win and both teams to score, which is 12/5 with Coral.