Can Chelsea make it 12 straight league wins with a victory at home to Bournemouth on Boxing Day? They’re out to extend their six point lead at the summit and keep their fantastic run going. If they can carry their excellent form in to 2017, then it’s hard to see how the rest of the title hopefuls can catch them. However, they need to watch out against a useful Cherries side.
Bournemouth sit in the top half of the table, they’ve been pretty solid in their second season in the top flight. They’ve got a couple of dangerous players, and they recently beat Liverpool 4-3 after a fantastic comeback. This is another new challenge for Antonio Conte, can he inspire his side to another victory? The Blues come in to this one as heavy favourites for the points.
Team News: Suspensions leave Conte without key men
Chelsea have built their excellent form on the back of little rotation, keeping much of the same side across this run. However, that isn’t going to be the case on Monday, as they face a couple of big suspensions ahead of this clash. Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante are both out here, after picking up yellow cards at Crystal Palace last weekend. Those two have been key parts of the title push so far, so just how will the Blues fare with two big absentees from the spine of their team?
Luckily, there are a couple of easy solutions for Conte ahead of this game. Cesc Fabregas has been pushing for a place in the team, so he can step in for Kante. While the Frenchman will be missed, Nemanja Matic will have to pick up the defensive slack. Between him and Fabregas, they should be able to make up for it. Meanwhile, Michy Batshuayi can finally get a league start with Costa out. The Belgian can at last start to show why he cost so much in the summer. He’s been limited to substitute appearances so far.
Bournemouth are missing some players ahead of this trip too, with Lewis Cook, Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas all set to miss out for the Cherries here. Eddie Howe should be able to cope with those absences, although they’re going to miss a key man at the back. Nathan Ake has established himself in their defence, while he’s also been in strong scoring form of late. However, the Chelsea loanee is unavailable for this clash against his parent club.
Bournemouth took a couple of big wins recently, seeing off Leicester 1-0 at the King Power. That came off the back of their win over Liverpool, so clearly the south coast side are not to be taken lightly. However, they’ve not got the greatest record on their travels. Will they be able to cause a massive shock at Stamford Bridge?
They’ve managed just one victory in seven away matches this season, which isn’t the kind of form they want to take into a tough match like this. Even that win at Stoke was surprising, and they followed it up with back to back defeats at Arsenal and Burnley. When you compare that to the Blues’ form going into this clash, it’s hard to see how the visitors can cause a shock on Boxing Day.
Chelsea v Bournemouth Head to Head
These two sides have only met twice before, and both of those came last season. The first meeting, their only encounter at Stamford Bridge, was one of the lowest points of Jose Mourinho’s tenure. They lost 1-0 to the newly promoted Cherries in December last year, before turning that around for the second meeting. Guus Hiddink led them to a 4-0 win at the Vitality in April. Hopefully Conte can produce something closer to Hiddnk’s result, rather than another home collapse.
- Bournemouth 0-4 Chelsea, Apr 2016
- Chelsea 0-1 Bournemouth, Dec 2016
- Michy Batshuayi to score any time – 5/6 with Coral
- Chelsea to win to nil – 29/20 with BetVictor
This game will represent a huge moment for Conte and his team. The lack of European football has given them plenty of time to prepare for each game, while it has also allowed them to keep basically the same side across their winning run. There’s been a core of nine players, plus four others who have made starts. That all changes this week, with a couple of suspensions forcing Conte’s hand. On top of that, he might want to rest a couple of players, with a busy Christmas period coming up for the Blues. Could that lead to a new look side taking the field on Boxing Day?
We know that striker Costa is going to miss out and without the forward in the team the Blues will look a little short on goals. The Spaniard has hit 13 goals in 17 appearances, so obviously he’s a huge player to have to do without. This is the perfect chance for Batshuayi to step in. The forward cost £33million last summer, but he’s spent most of the season on the bench. He’s been Conte’s most used substitute so far, and he’s managed a few goals off the bench. We see him finding the net in his first league start, so we’re backing him to score any time at 5/6 with Coral.
We’re also backing another win to nil for the Blues. They’ve kept a clean sheet in nine of their last 11 games, which has been a huge help to their winning run. While Kante misses out, the usual back five will start. They should be good enough to keep out the Cherries, so we’re backing a clean sheet here for the Premier League leaders. We’re also backing their excellent winning run to continue, as we’re going with Chelsea to win to nil at 29/20 with BetVictor.