By, Ayodeji Itasanmi (Twitter: @aryhorblueblood)
Vitality Stadium/October 28, 2017
We’re beginning to rack up the wins that our players’ confidence needed but more importantly than that we need to continue pile the pressure on the league leaders with two on the trot. Like us, AFC Bournemouth hasn’t had it easy in the league with them in lowly 19th position in the league but they have also recorded two wins on the spin 1-2 away to Stoke City in the league last Saturday and 3-1 against Middlesbrough at the Vitality Stadium in the Carabao Cup in midweek. Three points on Saturday will be keenly contested as these two teams need the lift that the points will bring for different reasons of course.
These two sides have only met 9 times in all competitions with Chelsea having 7 victories to Bournemouth’s 2 with no draws in between. This match will be the fifth time Chelsea is facing Bournemouth in the Premier League (W3 L1) with them failing to score just once in December 2015 when we lost the match to a contentious and controversial Glenn Murray goal. One stat Antonio Conte and his charges must be aware of is the fact that on the two occasions we’ve lost to Bournemouth we’ve failed to score so the earlier we get on the score board on Saturday the better it’s going to be for us. We have one the last three matches against The Cherries home and away scoring 10 goals and conceding just two. The key win this match, as with any football match, is scoring goals aplenty so here is to hoping our strikers find the mark on Saturday evening.
It was a welcomed relief when the team to face Everton was released and Danny Drinkwater was in it for the first time this season with him playing alongside youngster Ethan Ampadu in central midfield which meant both Fabregas and Bakayoko were rested, albeit the Spaniard was introduced in place of Drinkwater after an hour. With N’Golo Kante was also touted to return for the trip to Rome in midweek so our health is getting back on track slowly but surely. Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Eden Hazard, Marcos Alonso, Tiemoue Bakayoko and David Luiz all got the night off on Wednesday night for the Everton game while the trio of Fabregas, Pedro and Morata should be fresh having been introduced off the bench on Wednesday night for cameos. Antonio Rudiger continues to churn out impressive performances whenever he’s called upon and it wouldn’t such a surprise if he gets the nod to continue as the LCB with Azpilicueta moving to RWB just like against Watford last Saturday with Davide Zappacosta the one to miss out. Conte has used Fabregas and Bakayoko, and David Luiz for the Roma game, in central midfield but with Danny Drinkwater back fit after his bout with injury he has another option whether in his preferred 3-4-3 formation or the 3-5-2. Eden Hazard is getting to his best gradually and should be ready to go again after being rested for the midweek win over Everton in support of Alvaro Morata with whom he’s beginning to have a telepathic understanding and link up play. This game will likely come too soon for Victor Moses. Marcos Alonso should also be well rested to take his position at LWB on Saturday having been showing signs of fatigue in our most recent games. Pedro should also come back into the starting XI having been relegated to the bench on Wednesday if Antonio Conte chooses to line his up in the 3-4-3 formation. Alvaro Morata will be looking to add to his six Premier League goals when he comes up against former Blues Nathan Ake and Asmir Begovic on Saturday.
Courtois; Rudiger, Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso; Hazard, Pedro; Morata
Last Five Matches: WWDLL
Injuries: Victor Moses (Hamstring)-Out; N’Golo Kante (Hamstring)-Out
Eddie Howe and his team have endured a trying start to the season but they are now starting to string some results together after winning two in a row for the first time this season, and they will certainly be hoping to make it three wins on the bounce when the Blues come to town on Saturday tea time. Callum Wilson made a scoring return to the Bournemouth fold in midweek, after rupturing his knee ligament in January, scoring from the penalty spot in their 3-1 win over Championship side, Middlesbrough. The news of Wilson’s return will surely be welcomed among the Cherries’ fans with Jermaine Defoe out of this weekend’s fixture due to injury and Josh King a doubt due to illness. Eddie Howe has ringed the changes many times this season without getting the desired result even at a point he tried a three at the back formation but he’s since settled into a straight 4-4-2 formation and his team seem to have responded well with two wins in a row. Asmir Begovic is set to continue in goal following his rest in midweek shielded by the duo of Simon Francis and former Chelsea academy graduate Nathan Ake with Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels completing the back four. Andrew Surman and Lewis Cook anchors the midfield flanked by Jordon Ibe and Junior Stanislas but all action Irishman Harry Arter is another option in central midfield with Lys Mousset likely to be playing just behind Benik Afobe in attack. Even though Callum Wilson is back as an option in attack, Howe might want to ease him into the team gradually in order to avoid a recurrence of the injury. Josh King might walk straight back into the team if he’s recovered enough from the illness that has kept him out of their last three matches against Spurs, Stoke City and Middlesbrough in midweek with either Mousset or Afobe making way for the lanky Norwegian.
Begovic; Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels; Surman, Cook, Ibe, Stanislas; King, Afobe.
Last 5 matches: WWLDL
Injuries: Adam Federici (Knee) – Out; Tyrone Mings (Back)- Out; Brad Smith (Hip) –Out; Josh King (Illness) –Doubt; Jermaine Defoe (Hamstring) –Out.
Alvaro Morata vs. Nathan Ake
Alvaro Morata will be hoping to add to his tally for the season when he goes up against Ake on Saturday. The Dutchman is growing into an important player for the Cherries after his £20m move during the summer transfer window and will be looking to improve his reputation further by preventing the Spaniard from finding the net.
Marcos Alonso vs. Jordon Ibe
Jordon Ibe began this season on the fringes of the Bournemouth after having such dismal outing last season but has played his way back into the team after his match-winning performance in their first win of the season against Brighton at the Vitality Stadium. Alonso hasn’t been at his best in recent times but after his rest in midweek he should prove more than a handful for Ibe.
Eden Hazard vs. Adam Smith
Eden Hazard’s performances have been improving game by game and this match is another opportunity for the mercurial Belgian. He’ll be looking to add to his two goals against Roma when he comes up against Smith on Saturday. It’s going to be a busy day at the office for the Bournemouth defender I’m sure.
With an important game away to Roma on the horizon Antonio Conte may want to win this as early as possible to allow his key men time to relax before embarking on the trip to Rome but it’s not going to be that straight forward with the Cherries in need of the victory themselves to move out of the relegation zone going into the last international break of the year. The earlier we’re able to put this game to bed the better preparation we’re likely to get for the battle in Rome in midweek. Until then, hopefully with three points in hand, Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!
Thumbnail image courtesy of: Telegraph UK
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