Whose idea was it to schedule a round of matches for Transfer Deadline Day? What sort of nonsense is this?
“It’s not right to have a match when there is the deadline passing on the market... this is not right. You can have this type of situation. To have players who stay half and half [in their focus]. In the future, whoever decides the fixtures should reflect a bit before deciding to prepare this type of situation.”
”Now I have to face this situation. There are many coaches who don’t like to have a game when there is the deadline of the transfer market.”
-Antonio Conte; Source: ESPN FC
Date / Time: Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Lee Probert — now there is a name we haven’t for a while; almost four years in fact. Probert last refereed a Chelsea match back in April of 2014, which, incidentally, was pretty much the only good game Mo Salah every played for us (3-0 over Stoke, with Salah getting a goal, an assist, and winning a penalty).
Forecast: Cold, rainy day followed by a drier but colder evening.
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select 2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: NBC Sports Gold (USA); Hotstar (India); Chelsea TV (radio, int’l)
Chelsea team news: Morata (back), Willian (hamstring), David Luiz (ankle) are out. Courtois and Fàbregas are expected to be back and probably starting. New left back Emerson is probably not eligible yet, having signed late in the day on Tuesday.
The big question is who will play center forward. Batshuayi has been deputizing well enough for Morata in recent games, but he’s probably on his way out on loan for the second-half of the season and it’s logistically impossible for him to both play in this game and complete a move, especially to BVB since the Bundesliga’s registration deadline is 6 hours before the 11pm GMT window-slamming of the Premier League.
Even if Chelsea were to complete the signing of Olivier Giroud (or some other replacement) before kick-off, he would be ineligible since players have to be registered with the Premier League by midday of the day previous to be eligible to play. And Conte doesn’t like throwing in players immediately either — see Ross Barkley’s situation, who’s more or less fit physically but is still lacking in the “tactical aspect”.
(Eden Hazard it probably is then.)
AFC Bournemouth team news: The Cherries are facing fewer issues, with only veteran striker Jermain Defoe (fractured ankle, thanks to an Ethan Ampadu tackle) and defender Tyrone Mings (plauged by back issues all season) missing in action.
Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last five in the Premier League (2 wins, 3 draws), but those two wins are their only two in the dozen league games since Thanksgiving. They may be 13th at the moment, but that’s only good for a two-point cushion above the bottom three. Basically, everybody in the lower half of the table is battling relegation danger this season. Hurray for parity!
Bournemouth have lost twice already to Chelsea this season, once at home in the league and then on a 90th-minute goal in the League Cup at the Bridge. Another close contest would not be surprising, especially with the visitors’ newfound penchant for scoring goals.
Previously: Carabao caribou