Chelsea have had a cup double header over the past week, but they refocus on the Premier League on Wednesday night as they host Bournemouth. While there could be a few behind the scenes who are busy trying to get last minute deals over the line, the players won’t have too much time for that as they’re in action almost up until the window slams shut at 11pm. However, Antonio Conte needs to keep his focus away from the transfer business here, although according to him that won’t be too hard.
Conte needs to make sure the Blues’ return to Premier League action brings another three points, as they are still chasing Champions League football. The fight for the top four isn’t going to be easy, with Tottenham in fifth and Liverpool in fourth looking to overhaul the Blues. While Conte’s side may have their eye on a second place finish, the main objective is simply bettering fifth. That might not be the ideal campaign for some, but the Blues can ill-afford another season outside of Europe’s biggest competition.
Team News: Can Blues Return to High of Brighton Display?
With Alvaro Morata set to start up front, the Blues shouldn’t have too much to worry about in terms of attacking selections here. They come into this trip with few injury concerns, although Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill aren’t expected to feature. Having made changes across the recent cup games, Conte should revert to his strongest available side for this clash. The Blues are expected to start in their usual 3-4-3 system here, with Thibaut Courtois looking as though he will return in goal. It would seem that Willian is leading the race to start alongside Hazard and Morata up top, with Pedro struggling for form of late.
The visitors make this trip without Jermain Defoe, but he’s their only real concern ahead of this clash. They tried a three at the back approach for clashes with Man City and Arsenal, but that formation usually backfires when used against the Blues, who are masters at matching sides man for man in their now favoured set up. Should Eddie Howe go with that approach, it could cost them.
Bournemouth have done well in recent weeks to drag themselves away from the drop zone, but they could have done much more early on in the campaign. The Cherries were in the bottom three early on, but they kept faith with Eddie Howe and he has guided them into the relative safety of mid-table. However, that doesn’t mean their form has been great of late. While they have kicked off an unbeaten run in the league, there are signs they could struggle here.
Bournemouth haven’t lost in any of their last five matches, but they’ve only managed two wins across their last 12. They’re without a win in six on the road, while they’ve lost half of their away trips so far this season. With 11 defeats to their name already this term, the South-coast side have struggled at times, and they’ve mostly done that against the top sides, having claimed just seven points from a possible 39 against the top 10 teams this season.
Chelsea v Bournemouth Head to Head
While Chelsea’s first meeting with Bournemouth resulted in an embarrassing 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, the Blues have enjoyed better form against the Cherries of late. They’ve won all of their previous five meetings with Howe and his men, including two clashes already this season.
- Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth, Dec 2017
- Bournemouth 0-1 Chelsea, Oct 2017
- Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea, Apr 2017
- Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth, Dec 2016
- Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea, Apr 2016
- Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – 8/11 with Betfred
- Chelsea to win to nil – 15/13 with Ladbrokes
The Blues are heavy favourites coming into this one, as they’re priced up at just 1/4 with BetVictor to take the three points from this game. The Cherries are 11/1 with Betfair to secure another shock win away to the champions – as they did in 2015. You can back the draw at 9/2 with Coral here, which isn’t a result Conte and co can really afford right now. Having put together an impressive run of form against Bournemouth, we can’t see Chelsea surrendering the points at home in this one. However, they’re obviously too short to go backing on the outright market.
We are backing a Chelsea win, but we do feel like there are opportunities to get a little more value out of it. For instance, the visitors have shipped four goals to Man City and Liverpool in a couple of recent big games, which could worry them going in to this trip. Another issue for the visitors is that they’re one of the sides Eden Hazard tends to enjoy playing against, as he has recorded five wins, five goals and an assist in six meetings with them. Recently the Blues have only really played well going forward when the Belgian has been on good form, so we could see a few goals from the champions. With that in mind, we’re tempted by Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals in this one.
On top of that, the visitors do have a problem in terms of their attack against top sides. Having made four trips to the top six this season – failing to score in any of them. On top of that, the two sides they have yet to travel to – Chelsea and Liverpool – both beat them to nil at the Vitality Stadium. The Cherries tend to have a poor attacking record against top sides, and that won’t bode well against a side who have kept six clean sheets in their last seven in the league. As such, we’re backing a home win to nil as our second tip at odds of 15/13 with Ladbrokes.