Chelsea have righted the ship to a certain extent after the brief winless stretch with back to back wins over Watford and Everton, but now the Blues hit the road for the next five out of six games on either side of the November international break and into Thanksgiving. And the one home game during that time is against Manchester United, in a week’s time, so Conte certainly has his work cut out for him to keep the squad healthy, fresh, committed and properly motivated.
On paper, Bournemouth away is perhaps the easiest of the upcoming six. But as we saw with the trip to Crystal Palace not that long ago, easy on paper doesn’t guarantee any real points. Real effort and real commitment and real attention is required.
Let’s get to work!
Date / Time: Saturday, October 28, 17:30 BST; 12:30 pm EST; 10pm IST
Venue: Dean Court, Bournemouth, England
Referee: Craig Pawson — we’ll be hoping this game turns out better than the last time Pawson was in charge, when he sent off Gary Cahill and Chelsea slumped to a shock opening day defeat against Burnley.
Forecast: Misty, cloudy
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India)
AFC Bournemouth team news: Eddie Howe’s search for a relegation zone escape won’t be helped by the doubts over the fitness of Joshua King and Ryan Fraser, though veteran striker Jermain Defoe should be fit to play. Long-term absentees include defenders Tyrone Mings and Brad Smith, as well as backup goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Speaking of defenders and goalkeepers, Chelsea title-winners Nathan Aké and Asmir Begović have both played key roles for Bournemouth after joining in the summer for a combined fee of north of £30m. But they haven’t been able to prevent the Cherries from getting off to their worst start since gaining promotion three years ago. With just two wins from their first nine games in the league, plus another couple in the League Cup, they will need rapid improvement to survive what’s looking like a very congested relegation scuffle.
Chelsea team news: All other players are available, said Conte in his pre-match press conference after detailing the negative prognoses for Victor Moses (out until mid-November), N’Golo Kanté (out until midweek, probably), and Danny Drinkwater (ready-ish, but not match fit). That leaves Chelsea a bit light in midfield once again.
Chelsea have followed up the opening-day shock loss against Burnley with eight in a row unbeatean (seven wins), which then turned into three in a row without a win (two losses), which now is looking like the start of another winning streak (two in a row so far). Hopefully.
Conte brought the heat in the pre-match presser; if the players match that intensity, we should be fine.
Previously: This fixture last season happening during the title run-in, with the Blues walking away with an easy 3-1 victory. More of the same please!